The Key To Fat Loss: Lift Heavy Things (There I Said It)

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I just don’t get it. Why is it that you rarely (if ever) see books geared towards fat loss advocating people to lift heavy things off the ground? I was at the bookstore Friday night, and out of habit, I was photo copying the Kama Sutra I was perusing books in the health/fitness section, and couldn’t help but shake my head in amazement at just how atrocious many of them are. It’s almost like there’s a set formula they all use:

1. The book cover consists of some man or woman that probably has never lifted a weight over 30 lbs in their life, standing there with their arms crossed in front of them, possibly wearing a suit, with some smug look on their face as if to say “I totally deserve to be punched in the kidney today.”

2. The first few chapters will have some diatribe on why it’s not the reader’s fault that they’re fat and out of shape. Cause you know, we wouldn’t want people to take responsibility for their own actions.

3. This will be followed by roughly 75-100 pages of recipes that will inevitably taste like sandpaper dipped in herpes.

4. Then they’ll provide some cookie-cutter “strength training” program consisting of exercises in the 15-20 rep range (if they include resistance training at all), along with copious amounts of cardio/aerobic training because clearly, this is the most advantageous way to lose fat (Note the HEAVY sarcasm.)

5. They go off to make millions of dollars; bathing themselves in gold plated bathtubs, and I hate myself because I’m not them. Dammit, I need to write a book!

I bring all of this up because the vast majority of these books, while having good intentions, tend to advocate exactly what not to do when trying “firm up” (I can’t believe I just wrote that) and shed fat. Specifically, the whole notion that one must focus on lifting with high(er) reps while dieting; to which I say………….Bull to the shiznit.

It’s no secret that I feel people should spend more time in the gym lifting heavy things. Even moreso in the context of dieting, where the main objective should be to preserve as much lean body mass (LBM) as possible.

Numerous studies have shown (J Am Coll Nutr. 1999 Apr;18(2):115-21, being the most well renowned) the advantages of including resistance training as part of a fat-loss program. Even in the study referenced above (when calories were kept to a staggering 800 kcals/day for twelve weeks), it was shown that those who included resistance training into their programming were able to preserve more LBM compared to those that just focused on diet + cardio.

Of course, I’m not implying that people should follow a 800 kcal/day diet. That would just be absurd and downright counterproductive. However, what I am trying to say is that you need to be lifting heavy shit when you’re dieting. Especially when you consider that most people tend to dip calories too low (for too long), and end up losing a lot of lean body mass in the process.

This is exactly what I’ve been doing the past five weeks during Project: Tony Gets Sexified. While my overall caloric intake has been low(er) than normal, I’ve been able to maintain my strength and preserve lean body mass by making sure that I get my heavy lifts in. Many trainees will try to increase their volume while dieting, thinking that by doing so, they’ll burn more calories. I’ve done the exact opposite, and just focused on maintaining my strength by making sure that I include some heavy lifts (1-5 rep range) on the days that I train.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t done any extra energy-system training (intervals) or cardio (brisk walking on the treadmill) during the past five weeks; I have. But I certainly haven’t overemphasized it like many people mistakenly do. Let the diet take care of the fat loss, not the training. Just repeat after me, “what makes muscle, KEEPS muscle.” Go lift heavy stuff, it will be good for you.

EDIT: I mean, just the other day I deadlifted 500 lbs for five sets of four repetitions and celebrated by ordering some food from The Tavern, and watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

That’s right. I’m not scared to admit that I watched a chick flick on a Saturday night, alone. Jesus, I’m surprised I also didn’t get in a tickle fight with myself, watched John Mayer videos on Youtube, or read a Jodi Picoult novel. Goddammit. I feel my sperm dying one by one as I type this. That’s it, I’m going to the strip club to eat some marinated dead animal flesh and get in a nunchuck fight with a bouncer.

UPDATE: I won

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