Fat Loss 2001! Pt.II
the Battle Continues
by Arik Orosz

Hopefully if you've been following the guidelines from part 1, you're already dropping a few digits in the fat loss department. Fat loss is not as complicated as many people perceive it to be. In fact, when it comes down to it, it's really quite simple. Now don't get me wrong, it'll take some time to learn your way around the ring and master all the ins and outs of how to train, what to eat, and how your body responds to a particular protocol, but you don't need me to tell you that nothing worthwhile can be too easy.

The next segment of this article will focus on how to design an effective lifting protocol for fat loss, fat loss supplements and a few other subtleties that will make you lose weight faster than those cool little tape worm pills they sold in the late 60's... uhhhh, 'er something like that. Well, on that note.

One of the most common mistakes trainees make when trying to prioritize fat loss is not adjusting their training protocol accordingly. Men and women are both guilty of this. I can't tell you how many times I've seen guys start to diet and cut carbs down to lean out, yet their still training like their getting ready to take on Van Magnusson at the next Strongman competition. Stop, take a deep breath, and think this through carefully for a moment. If you're trying to get strong, you must train like you're trying to get strong. So if you're trying to minimize bodyfat, why would you still train like you're trying to get strong? See, doesn't make much sense does it? Many women tend to do the extreme opposite. When it's time to dump the bodyfat it becomes Cardiofest 2001, and the lifting becomes minimal or eighty-sixed altogether. This is also a big mistake.

Throughout the years, different approaches have come and gone for reducing bodyfat and maintaining muscle. The old school pre-contest methods usually consisted of increasing workout frequency (usually to a 3 on-1 off or a 4 on-1 off schedule), increasing number of reps per set, increasing length of workouts(in most cases), using two-a-day splits (lifting twice a day, usually a bigger muscle group in the morning and a small muscle group at night), and gradually increasing cardio time to anywhere from 45-90 minutes of low intensity cardio a day. There is a name for this style of training. It's called INSANE. Thank God we've come a long way since then.

Despite the extreme nature of this these venerable training methods, they were necessary to get where we are today in terms of training knowledge, and elements of the old school will always apply. I know every month some magazine hits the newsstands with the latest, greatest methods of how to do this, that and the other thing, but the fact remains, there were great bodies 20 and 30 years ago. They got there somehow and there is a lot to be learned from this. They were also doing it in an era when we didn't have endocrinology update or biochemistry 101 in any of the magazines, cutting-edge supplements that actually work, and the mass availability of ergogenic drugs. Well, unless you're talking about the 80's when most gyms practically sold 5mg D-bol tabs out of the vending machine in a cute, little Pez dispenser, but I digress.

So what then is the best way to train to get lean? Here we go again with our handy little list of rules.

Rule One- Use supersets

Supersetting is beneficial for a number of reasons. One, it is very time efficient because while one muscle group is resting, another one is still being worked. This makes it possible to accomplish a large volume of work in a fairly small time frame. The second benefit is cardiovascular. You are moving almost nonstop for the duration of the workout so it accomplishes the best of both worlds, muscle stimulation and fat loss. Charles Poliquin's German Volume Training is centered around this type of philosophy. Refer to the sample workout to see one example of how this can be done. This will be covered in greater detail in a future article.

Full body Workout A

1a Flat bench press
Split Squats
Medium reverse grip chins
(or pulldowns)
Seated dumbbell shoulder press
Stiff-legged deadlifts
Seated incline dumbbell curls
Weighted hyperextensions
(parallel to floor)
Weighted Swiss ball crunches

Rule Two- Use higher reps

Higher rep training can be beneficial for a number of reasons when it comes to fat loss. The muscle fibers (slow twitch) used during high reps hold less glycogen therefore less glycogen will be depleted from the body during a workout. This is important for keeping the muscles full and the metabolism high. There is also evidence that the increased lactate from high rep training will stimulate greater GH (Growth Hormone) output which is also a key hormone for losing fat. Slow twitch fibers also recover faster between sets than fast twitch fibers. This will make it possible to adhere to using shorter rest intervals, keeping the heart rate up throughout the workout, hence burning more bodyfat.

Rule Three- Minimize heavy training to failure

This kind of goes hand in hand with rule two. Using heavy weights requires longer rest intervals. Long rest intervals will make it difficult to keep the heart rate up and lose bodyfat. The other downside to this is that heavy training will stimulate greater cortisol production in the body. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that the body releases to reduce muscle inflammation, but it also likes to chew up muscle tissue as a little in-between meal snack. Chewing up muscle tissue is one of the first things that will trigger the thyroid to slow down ( in an attempt to prevent muscle loss). Unfortunately when the thyroid slows down you won't be losing much fat either. One way to combat cortisol is to spike insulin levels in the body by eating a large serving of high-glycemic carbs after a workout. Assuming that you're following a low carb diet to get lean you won't want to eat too many sugars, even after a workout. Therefore don't elevate cortisol by beating the muscles up with too much training to failure.

Rule Four- Use cardio as a backup, not a staple

If you embrace high-rep training and shorten the rest intervals properly, you shouldn't need much extra cardio to get lean. The best approach is to get the high rep workouts down first with little or no cardio. If the body fat still isn't shedding after using 3-4 high rep, fast paced workouts a week, then gradually add a little cardio into the mix. Start by hitting 15-20 minutes first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach 3-4 times a week. If you need to increase this, up it by 5 minutes per session and don't exceed 30-40 minutes. Most people won't ever need that much and if you do, then you need to stop the late night Dorito-fests!

The Wide, Wide World of Fat Burners

I've heard a lot of media clowns preaching that fat burning supplements don't work and that they're dangerous. Well, let me ask you a question. If they don't work, then why are so many people consistently using them? People use them because they work. Are they dangerous? Ephedra products can be dangerous when misused or taken by people who shouldn't be using them, but so can anything else. Aspirin can be dangerous. Let's take that off the market. Alcohol can be very dangerous. Don't see that one coming off the market anytime really soon. It's a matter of fact, let's all junk our cars because there is a chance that someday we may experience the misfortune of being involved in an accident. Supplements and drugs, like anything else have a risk-to-benefit ratio. Anything that works has a risk-to-benefit ratio. We must weigh all things out equally, base our decisions on sound knowledge, and use these products responsibly. On that note, lets look at a few options that will help speed up the fat loss process a bit, as well as some products to avoid like the plague.

Ma Huang (Ephedra) and Guarana (caffeine)
These are the herbal versions of ephedrine and caffeine. They work via stimulation of the beta 1, 2,and 3 receptors. These receptors play a very intimate role in fat loss, especially the beta 2's. Beta 1's are found primarily in cardiac muscle and this is what primarily stimulates elevation of the heart rate. I believe (this is a theory) that adding synephrine to this type of product will somewhat calm the effect on the heart rate to an extent (see synephrine).

This was another effective weight loss agent that has unfortunately bitten the dust. Was it banned because it was ultimately a high-risk product? Well there were a few studies indicating that women (but not men) had a higher risk of stroke when using Norephedrine products. Then on the flipside, I knew a plethora of female fitness competitors who used MD6 or Adipokinetix (both Norephedrine-based fat burners) with great success and no side effects whatsoever. In fact, the consensus was that it was less stimulatory to the CNS (central nervous system) than regular 'ol ma huang or ephedrine, i.e., no shaking like a human-jackhammer. You can still find some Adipokinetix floating around here and there. Syntrax, the company behind Adipokinetix seems to somehow do a brilliant job of staying below the FDA radar which amazes me after all the heat they caught from the original Triax (tiratricol) being banned. MD6 by Biotest is still on the market , but has since switched the formula up to comply with FDA regulations on Norephedrine.

Synephrine is nothing terribly new or exciting, but it does seem to add to the benefits of the traditional Ma Huang/Guarana combo. Synephrine is essentially ephedrine's little brother. It acts very similarly, but it' simply exerts a weaker effect. What are the benefits of combining this with ephedrine? This is just a theory (don't all profound discoveries start as a theory?) but I believe because it is chemically similar, it acts as a competitive inhibitor to the beta receptors that impact our heart rate the most (beta 1's), hence, lessening the impact of the ma Huang on the users heart rate without dulling the fat burning effects. It also seems to extend the effect of the product so that the "crash" is not so dramatic as it is with straight ephedrine/caffeine. I believe tyrosine will also contribute to this effect since it is a natural amino acid precursor to the same neurotransmitters that we are running on when we use ephedrine and caffeine.

This one had everybody excited for a minute when it first hit the market, that is, until we found out that it actually suppresses TSH more than it stimulated T3 production. In plain English, it slowed the thyroid down more than it helped to speed it up. So what does this mean to the user? You'll be packing up and moving into Rebound City, USA shortly after discontinuing use. Of course the post-use weight gain will differ depending on the individual's resilience to metabolic shutdown, the dose they were using, and how long they took Triax without a break. It was actually a prescription drug in Europe by the name of Triacana, and somehow Derek Cornelius (the owner of Syntrax) slipped it through the cracks of an FDA loophole.

T2 (diiodothyronine)
Now this one had me genuinely stoked. Actually it still does. Unfortunately it just got yanked from the market so good luck finding it once the Biotest's supplies dry up. Was T2 new when Biotest released it? No, not really. It had actually been on the market for some time before in Syntrax's Lipokinetix product. For some reason, no one payed any attention to it though. Not too mention, Lipokinetix contained usnic acid (a protein uncoupler similar to an herbal DNP, a.k.a., Dinitrophenol) as well. Probably not the healthiest stuff on the planet. So what makes T2 so special you ask? It acts similarly to T3 in terms of boosting the metabolic rate and caloric expenditure, but with little to no shutdown of TSH when used in reasonable amounts. It seems to be a dieters dream-come-true. Unfortunately like many other effective products, all good things must come to pass when the FDA has something to say about it. The bottom line- it was just too darn close to being a drug. The pharmaceutical guys don't really like that too much. Bye bye T2. We'll miss you bud.

7-keto DHEA (3-Acetyl-7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone)
Will 7-keto win the "mind-blowing, super fat-shredder of the year award?" I kinda doubt it. However there is a body of evidence and relative research indicating that this may be a product worth adding into the mix when trying to lose fat. It doesn't convert to estrogen like regular DHEA and it has been shown in studies to appreciably elevate T3 without stimulating change in TSH or T4. That's enough in and of itself to make this product worth considering, especially for you older guys who are experiencing a natural age-related decline of DHEA levels.

Gugglesterone (E and Z)
Gugglesterone, also known as gum guggul extract, gugulipid, or commiphora mukul, is an Ayurvedic herb that seems to aid in T4 to T3 conversion. This may be less significant at the start of a fat loss diet, but as calories are further reduced and carb intake is lowered the body will slow the conversion of thyroid hormones, hence slowing the metabolism. Gugglesterone (Prolab Thyrolean is a reputable source) will help prevent this from happening. As a little side bonus, it has also been shown to lower serum triglyceride levels as well as LDL and VLDL (the bad cholesterols).

Coleus Forskolii (Forskolin)
This just goes to show you never know what's gonna blow up next in this industry. I mentioned this stuff as "worth looking at" in a thyroid article I wrote years ago. In fact, it was the second article I had ever written. A few years later, lo and behold, Dan "The Guru" Duchaine is propping it in an Ironman article and as history has proven, everything he touched, for the most part, seemed to turn to supplemental gold. Next thing you know, Triax is banned and forskolin hits the market in the form of Triax 2. Now it's all over the place: EAS Beta Lean, Twinlab Extreme Ripped Fuel, Biotest T2 Pro, Next Nutrition Ultimate Orange (also by Duchaine), and several others as well. What's so good about this stuff? Well so far forskolin has been shown in studies to help fat loss in a couple of ways. The first is through a long, complicated sequence of biochemical reactions that is way beyond the scope of this article. In short, it helps to mobilize and metabolize fatty acids for fuel. The second is by stimulating T3 production and if you've been reading any of these articles then you already know how critical T3 levels are to fat loss. This, in my opinion, makes forskolin a worthy fat-shedding comrade.

So there it is, fat loss in a nutshell. Have we covered every principle about fat loss known to man? That would require a book rather than an article (which may be in the near future... hint, hint). I think we got the important stuff down though. Are you still here? What are you doing?! Get away from your brain-sucking, fat-inducing computer and go hit some high-rep supersets!