T Nation

Opinions on a Fat Loss Program...

Just want to get some feedback from everybody. I’ve been gradually working off some bodyfat (a lot, actually) and I’ve been through a few different training styles.

Currently I’m using the shotgun method that was outlined a few months back, primarily because it fits my schedule, and I’ve been seeing some good results.

My question is…do you think a workout focusing on compound movements (squats, Dlifts, and such), or one with more isolation work and higher rep ranges (as high as 12-15) would be more effective for fat burning and muscle preservation?

Before I get asked…my diet is in check. Following something similar to what Bartl used during his Physique Clinic. About 240g protein, 90g fat and ~35g carbs on non workout days, and 270/100/50 on workout days. It’s a keto diet, and I’ve found that the ~1800-2200 calorie range works well for me.

For weight loss, I’ve found compound movements used in complexes or supersets to be very effective. Although, I’ve never tried isolation movements during fat loss, so I can’t answer as to which is better.

Like the above poster, I haven’t done an exclusive isolation exercise program while cutting, but have seen great results with compound movements.

Compound lifts burn more total calories, because of the greater load and amount of muscles it recruits. When trying to lose fat, burning calories is key, so I would argue it is more effective.

The point of lifting during a fat loss phase is to preserve (and if you’re very lucky even add a little) muscle. It’s aim should not be to primarily burn fat–at least not DURING the workout.

Yes, more moderate weight lifting with higher reps may burn a little more fat during the session, but will do little to nothing to either preserve muscle mass or stimulate your metabolism; in fact, it could overly stress a system in a hypo-caloric state, leading to muscle loss.

Your body needs a “reason” to hold onto muscle during calorically deprived states, as muscle is a metabolically expensive tissue to maintain. The best way to do this is through low rep heavy training.

If you combine this with short rest intervals, e.g., by arranging your compound movements into circuits with 60 sec. or less rest between movements, you maintain adequate recovery between subsequent sets of the same movement, while simultaneously creating a significant EPOC (excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption).

This allows you to keep the weights heavy while using compound movements which involve more muscle mass. The more muscle stimulated, the higher your metabolic rate will be elevated post-exercise (as well as the greater the likelihood you will retain that muscle mass).

Furthermore, compound movements are a much more effecient way to stimulate muscle–both in terms of intensity and quantity. For example, chin-ups are an excellent back exercise as well as a great biceps builder.

In this way you can keep your workouts short and intense–which is essential when in a calorie deprived state. Dieting is enough of a stress and provides your body with fewer substrates for recovery, thus your workouts must stimulate the maximum amount of muscle in the least amount of time.

Here’s a recent circuit I did (yesterday in fact):

A1) Deadlifts: 4X6

345 X 6  355 X 6  355 X 6  355 X 6

    REST: 60 SEC.

A2) Dumbbell Bench Press: 4X6

85's X 6  90's X 6  95's X 6  95's X 6

    REST: 60 SEC.

A3 Standing Calf Raise: 4X6

210 X6  210 X 6  210 X 6  210 X 6

    REST: 60 SEC.

A4) Supinated lat pulldown: 4 X 6

190 X 6  190 X 6  190 X 6  190 X 6

    REST: 60 SEC.

A5) Decline Crunches: 4 X 6

35lb. plate X 6  35lb. X 6  35lb. X 6  35lb. X 6

    REST: 60 SEC. 

Repeat circuit 4 times
I keep my total reps in the 24-30 rep range for each movement.

I use full body workouts(generally, 3X week)with compound movements, as they are the most effecient and work well to manage nervous system fatigue. I will sometimes do an upper/lower split and one full body workout in a week, and if I’m very pressed for time two full body workouts.

I follow up each workout with 20-30 min. of moderate intensity cardio. On off days I keep my activity level high by walking, swimming, lawn mowing, various other outdoor activities.


I managed to lose about 7% body fat by doing a mixture of compound and isolation movements but I did them in supersets to add a cardio element to it. It worked pretty well so a mixture of the two can sometimes work.

Give less rest between sets