We are all prone to these psychological games brother, believe me. I dont know how old you are, but as your mature IN THE GYM you will realize that its all about YOU against the OLD YOU, and improving yourself. I used to be quite "embarrassed" by how small I was and how weak I was compared to other lifters in my gym. Granted I've fixed that problem But now I dont compare myself as much, and I just focus on beating MY old numbers and making sure than I am progressing.
The mental aspects of the iron game can't be ignored though. Learn to harness them to make you better and you will exceed your expectations.
The fitness industry, unfortunately, thrives on keeping people confused... So its entirely understandable that you have many questions. When in doubt, focus on the basics and avoid anything that sounds like marketing.
Here is my take on it... I did use a "fat burner" when I dieted, but it was mainly because I wanted/needed the energy boost the supplement provided. I honestly don't think they do damn near anything in terms of actually "burning fat" - maybe 3-5% increase in metabolism or something. I would NOT use one until you have proven for several months that you can consistently alter your diet and cardio to produce the desired results in your body weight. THEN add that on top as a small, small "bonus."
I did a 16 week diet and only employed the "fat burner" the final 4 weeks because my energy levels were severely low on some days. Again, I had my diet and cardio IN CHECK and had consistently produced 1-3 pounds a week of fat loss up until that point.
I implemented both when I dieted down. Make no mistake about hit, HIIT is the most effective form of cardio there is in terms of elevating metabolism... But it comes at a cost, which is it dips into your ability to recover.
If you are training your legs brutally hard, not sleeping well, eating a minimal amount of calories (as I was towards the end of my diet) you just can't sustain 4-6 sessions of HIIT a week. Something has to give, and if anything was going to give I was going to make DAMN sure it wasn't my squatting and weight lifting performance.
So, I kept the same number of cardio sessions (or added some towards the end), but some of them were longer duration, moderate intensity instead of the absolutely killer HIIT sessions I was doing.
This is probably different if you are training 3 days a week and are eating plenty of food. You may be able to do 3 days of weights and 2-3 days of HIIT to burn some fat.
The unsatisfying answer is that you have to try both, see what you like, see what works, and go from there. This is where a log book comes in handy. Also, be prepared to make mistakes - Dont get down on yourself, learn from them and and make the right choice the next time out.
Alright, this is where it gets tough... Again, the idea of "muscle gain" AND "fat loss" happening at the same time is really a home run scenario. It probably is not going to happen to any significant degree honestly. They are two separate goals, and unless you have a significant amount of time to devote to training and get your diet in perfect order and maintain it for the next 9 weeks, you really do have to pick one or the other.
So, that leaves us with 2 choices:
1 - Focus on the LONG TERM, don't miss out on our newbie gains, and start laying down some muscle mass while focusing on not gaining too much fat by doing some cardio and eating well. This approach WILL net some fat gain most likely, but the muscle gains that come with it will set us up for success in the future. This will allow you to diet down in the future (2-3 years maybe) and look like Gregg Avedon when you do.
2 - Focus on the short term, gear our diet and training towards fat loss, lose 18-25 pounds of blubber and be ready to look good at school. This approach will most definitely leave you LEANER than option number one... But you will be smaller, weaker, and would have missed out on some of the muscle gains that are available as a new trainer. you will NOT look like Gregg Avedon if you diet down now. Might even lose some muscle because your diet is not conducive to growth.
The choice is yours (although I would recommend number one) - I tend to think that women like a guy who is a little bigger, more muscular, and stronger, and looks like he could do some real work when he is wearing street clothes. Guys under 170 pounds, even super ripped guys, dont look very impressive in a t-shirt.
Straight up, I chose option number 2 when I first started out at 20 years old. The end result was NOT a lean, ripped physique, I was simply small:
Over the next several YEARS I found out more about training, diet, and focused on getting big and strong, and when I dieted the next time, since there was actually (some)muscle to diet down to, it was slightly more impressive - Although I did NOT keep my diet in check and got fatter than I should have, this made dieting less productive, harder, and longer than it needed it to be, but the results were there:
Once Again, taking several more YEARS to focus on getting bigger and stronger, I dieted down again this year: More muscle, less fat = better physique (I dont have the same pose right now, but you can see the growth)
Knowing what I know now, I could have made this transition in half the time and be 3-4 years ahead of current progress, no doubt about it...But that still would have been YEARS of work, not 9 weeks. Ahhh, to be young again
Again, I can't make the choice for you. I know VERY well the allure of being in shape around girls. What I can tell you is that I wish I would have focused on the long term goal from the beginning instead of trying to remain lean for the ladies. Thats just me though, it might be worth it to you when you get out of school to have looked a certain way during that time.
I'm out until a little later. Hopefully I'm not losing you with these long posts, but you are asking some pretty "big" questions, which is good, and I don't want to short change you here.