Morning Musings #8 – Fat Loss, Density Training, and Alcohol

With the heat wave here in South Jersey, and the 4th of July just passing this weekend, it is undoubtedly beach season. In my head, it is automatically summertime the first day it hits 80° degrees in the spring, so I’ve been saying, “suns out, guns out,” since then.

So if you’re still getting in the swing of fat loss mode, it is definitely possible to lose fat and show off for the opposite gender (or for your own health of course!). With this in mind, it is relatively easy to get caught up in the newest fad or diet, but I’m a sucker for hardwork and sticking to the basics.

Fat Loss: Statistics

Even if my intentions are straying slightly away from fat loss, it is such an imperative topic to talk about for several reasons:

  • According to WHO: 35% of adults aged 20 and over were overweight in 2008, and 11% were obese.
  • According to the CDC: More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese.
  • The American Medical Association has recognized obesity as a disease, causing several questions and policies into affect in regards to the workplace, insurance, among others.

What Can You Do…?

Despite this information, you can still look attack the obesity/overweight issue with a little elbow grease and a #getafterit attitude. With everything, I respect that there are varying levels of “problems”, but I always ask if you have pursued various options in regards to changing your lifestyle. This is because if you are lacking in sleep, basic nutrition, or if you have high stress levels, you’ll find that if you can alter those before seeking out to add more stress (exercise) to your system (your body) that those big rocks will cause everything else to fall in place.

Enough philosophical discussion aside, here are a few personal and practical items that I’ve been practicing to become more efficient with my time and energy, both non-renewable resources!

1. Cut the alcohol out.
Partially because I fully intend on participating in a powerlifting meet, and partially because of a self-experiment, I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve consumed alcohol in the past 6 months. I’ve had my fair share of fun nights with alcohol in my past, but my priorities shifted. Call it getting older or wiser, but I recognize that the consumption of alcohol has some affects, both beneficial and deleterious in terms of performance, not even from a caloric point of view. Simply Googling the “Benefits of Alcohol” brings up search results in the 100 millions. For specifics check this article out from Greatist (11 WAYS ALCOHOL IS ACTUALLY, LEGITIMATELY HEALTHY).

However, before you go patting yourself on the back for being “healthy” realize that there are also negative affects of alcohol…

From the University of Georgia,

Drinking on the day or night before athletic activity hinders physical conditioning progress, and exercising with a hangover has been shown to significantly decrease aerobic performance capacity – by as much as 11%. Regardless of the type of activity, conditioning progress will be impeded.

(Side Note: They also cited performance decreases with various levels of Blood Alcohol Content – my real question is how come I wasn’t notified of this study?? Drinking and lifting sounds like so much fun.)

While this topic can be a whole book alone, the end idea is that there are pros and cons in the consumption of alcohol.

If you’re trying to lose fat, alcohol more than likely will not help you, especially from a caloric point of view.

2. Make a super shake.

Precision Nutrition has several resources on how to make tasty shakes, even making a whole resource available for what they call super shakes. I’ve talked about how I can put together a hodgepodge of ingredients despite how bad it will taste and still down it (let’s try chocolate protein, milk, cauliflower, and ice). Some call it disgusting, I call it a super power.

If you don’t have a super stomach, try these tasty Super Shakes from Precision Nutrition.

Super Shake
Super Shake

3. Lift heavier weights.

To attack this point from both a anecdotal and evidence based point of view, it will be to your benefit to lift something relatively heavy from time to time.

Anecdotally, whenever I have a new client or athlete come into lift for the first time, often there is some timidness about lifting something so relatively heavy – it might even feel like they are going from zero to 60 in 3 seconds flat. So from a more personal point of view, there is something to be said about effort and realizing your strength levels as opposed to fearing becoming a”meathead” mentality, or the fear of getting bulky, or fear of damaging yourself. Approach the specific lift with sound technique, and attack the lift with some tenacity, and then you can #getafterit.

From an evidence based point of view:

4. Perform bodyweight density circuits.

Before pursuing the rest of this let’s get some definitions clear.

Density Training: complete hybrid of both metabolic training and strength training.

And more specifically…

Escalated Density Training: the amount of work (W) you do is pushed [to the limit] based on time constraints.

To extrapolate this information, and to bring this good ol’ equation back into effect, (W)=Force x Distance.

My end goal is to increase (W) – so I will manipulate Force to do so. For example, if I wanted to perform a maximal back squat at approximately 385lbs, it might take me 1-1.5 seconds to complete the lift, and a little longer to recover from the movement (a long time indeed!).

But I can decrease the actual Force (or weight used – so say a Back Squat at 135lbs), but increase the amount of times I do an exercise (say 10 repetitions) produced within a block of time (so, let’s arbritarily say within 30 seconds), then (W) is increased.

(135lbs x 10 repetitions = 1350lbs of Force is produced – SIGNIFICANTLY more than 385lbs.)

While our purpose here is to increase force output, you can obviously see that 1350lbs > 385lbs, despite the difference in purpose of movement (maximal strength vs power endurance).

On top of this, some obvious and not so obvious implications:

  • Higher heart rate in the 30second protocol,
  • Possibly more fatiguing from a local point of view in that there is more blood occlusion, as opposed to a CNS fatiguing maximal repetition attempt
  • Blood pumping into the muscles being used (in the case of a back squat, the posterior chain along with the upper thorax which would be holding the weight)
  • And as a result of more (W) performed, more calorie expenditure.
  • Oxygen debt is increased due to more fatiguing work being performed (EPOC).

So barring the super nerd inside of me, the idea I’m espousing is that density training works if approached appropriately. Now select 3 to 5 exercises, and perform them within a certain time frame, and increase the overall amount of work you are performing!


Did you enjoy this post? If so, please share it amongst your friends, family, and pets, and #getafterit.

Keep it funky.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *