Fat Loss for
Tom Venuto - author of
Burn The Fat, Feed The
Stepping up to the Next Level
If you've been training for at least three
months and now you're ready to kick it into high gear and start learning more
about training and nutrition so you can get better and faster results, then
this article is for you. If you're currently not working out at all and you'd
like to know the best way to get started, refer to part one in this series:
Fat Loss For Beginners - 8 Tips to Get Started. If
you've been training for years and consider yourself "advanced," then the third
installment in this series will be for you. But don't skip this one - you might
learn something new you missed along the way.
THE SECRET TO INCREASED FAT LOSS
Ok, so you just got started on a program of
walking or light cardio and some basic lifting, maybe some dumbbell work,
nothing fancy. You feel better, you've lost a few pounds, you have more energy
and you're confident that you're getting healthier.
But you want more:
You want the results to come faster. You
want to look in the mirror and really SEE the difference. You want other people
to see the difference too. You want more than "a little tone." Maybe you want a
nice hard chiseled six-pack with a small waist, or maybe streamlined, muscular
thighs. Arms like Linda Hamilton perhaps? Shoulders like Carl "Apollo Creed"
Weathers? A Brad Pitt "Fight Club" body maybe? Nothing too crazy - not a miss
fitness Olympia body or the massive bulk of a Mr. Universe - but definitely
better than average.
Well, if you're prepared to STEP UP to the
next level and pay the price necessary to reach the next rung on the ladder,
here's how you do it
The answer is very, very simple. As you
leave the novice stage behind, it's time to start WORKING HARDER. That's it!
Were you expecting something more esoteric? Some secret Bulgarian periodization
program and thermogenic - anabolic supplement stack? Sorry, but the secret is
that there is no secret. A great body all boils down to outright effort and
hard work. Not counting the genetic freaks who seem to have been born with
muscles and zero fat, there's one thing that all people with great bodies have
in common: they all work HARD, HARD, HARD!
If you want to ascend beyond the lowly
beginner level you simply have to push yourself harder. And that means
DIS-COMFORT. When you're pushing yourself out of the comfort zone, it hurts.
Frankly, sometimes it sucks! But outside the comfort zone is where you grow.
Staying inside the comfort zone will only maintain you at best but usually it
sends you plummeting into a downward spiral. Most people retreat back into the
confines of their comfort zone the minute the effort gets difficult. The
comfort zone is a very dangerous place because if you slide back into the
comfort zone even once, then it starts becoming a habit.
First, it's stopping just a few minutes
short on your cardio or coasting on level 5 when you could be doing level 7.
Then you start blowing off workouts completely. Pretty soon, you're sliding
back in other areas of your life; you slide back from making those sales calls;
you slide back from spending quality time with your family, you slide back from
saving money and watching your finances. You become.... A BACKSLIDER!
You can either be a backslider or you can be
an ACHIEVER but you can't be both and you can't "hang out" in between - it's
one or the other. Although you might think you're safe just "maintaining" in
the comfort zone, unbeknownst to you, you are always in motion in either a
forward or a backward direction. There's no such thing as standing still; ask
any physicist - everything in the universe is always in motion...vibrating...
pulsating... growing or dying.
The ACHIEVER is the person who is aware that
to "stand still inside the comfort zone" is akin to dying, so he or she is
ALWAYS MOVING FORWARD. The only way to move forward is with hard work and
effort in the direction of a specific goal.
AVOID THE TEMPTATION TO SPEND (WASTE)
YOUR MONEY ON GIMMICKS
AND LEARN TO RECOGNIZE A GIMMICK WHEN YOU SEE
Once you begin getting a taste of what real
hard training is like, it often becomes tempting to succumb to the error of
looking for the "easy way." An electrode on your abs, a "fat-melting" cream, a
pill, a drink mix, a drug - anything and everything except sweat and hard work.
But shortcuts will always fail you in the long run.
You are setting yourself up for so much
trouble if you give in to the lure of the quick fix. You see, it's all about
the Law of Sowing and Reaping. This great law of life states that your rewards
can only come back to you in direct proportion to what you put in. Everything
has its price and that price must be paid in advance.
If you were a farmer, how ridiculous would
it be for you to skip the planting of the seeds in the spring and then go out
in the fields looking for a harvest in the fall? How ridiculous would it be to
stand in front of a wood burning stove and say, Okay stove, give me some heat
and then I'll put in some wood?
But isn't it the same thing when you take a
pill or attach some electrodes to your stomach, or smear some cream on your
thighs and expect to lose the flab without exercise or eating right? Even if
you've made the decision to avoid gimmicks, in today's marketplace, how do you
know what's a gimmick and what's legit? After all, these marketing people are
smart - they know how to play on your emotions and make gimmicks sound
scientific. Don't feel bad; judging by the e-mails I get every day, most other
people don't know the difference either. Nearly all of these e-mails include
this sentence: Does "IT" work?
Here's how to tell if "IT" is a gimmick or
not: If it makes getting in phenomenal shape sound easy and effortless, then
it's a gimmick. If it addresses the symptom but not the cause - it's a gimmick.
If your gut feeling says it sounds too good to be true - it's a gimmick. If it
looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.... it's a duck! Do
yourself a favor and stop looking for a quick ride to the top. The elevator to
success is out of order - you're going to have to take the stairs.
HOW TO DOUBLE YOUR RATE OF FAT LOSS IN
THE NEXT 7 DAYS:
How would you like to learn a way to DOUBLE
YOUR FAT LOSS in the next seven days? I know, I know - sounds like a gimmick,
right? Well, it's not! It's really quite simple. To burn more fat you have to
burn more calories. Most beginners start off with three days a week of cardio
training. Usually they see some results initially because their bodies aren't
accustomed to exercise and any increase in activity above no activity will
always produce some results.
More often than not, the results begin to
slow down a bit within a few months of training. Then they scratch their heads
and wonder why it's not working anymore. This is why: Because three days a week
is for beginners, and you're no longer a beginner. If you want twice as much
fat loss and you want it twice as fast, double your cardio.
Suppose you burn 400 calories per workout
for three workouts per week. That's a total of 1200 calories per week burned.
If you doubled that to six days per week at 400 calories per workout, you would
burn 2400 calories. YOU JUST DOUBLED YOUR FAT LOSS EVERY WEEK! That was a real
no-brainer, wasn't it?
HOW TO TRIPLE YOUR RATE OF FAT LOSS IN
THE NEXT 7 DAYS:
While we're on the subject of burning more
calories, what would happen if, in addition to increasing your cardio from
three to six days per week, you increased the intensity so that you are burning
600 calories per workout? With six workouts at 600 calories per workout you're
up to 3600 calories per week. HOLY ABDOMINALS BATMAN, YOU JUST TRIPLED YOUR FAT
LOSS! Yes it's that simple and the solution was right there in front of you all
along. By the way, this kind of frequent cardio is how I reach 3 - 4% body fat
for competitions: MINIMIUM six days per week of HARD cardio, 45 minutes per
ALWAYS BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR SOMETHING TO
MOTIVATE AND INSPIRE YOU:
After the initial novelty of starting a
workout program wears off, one problem nearly everyone runs into is lack of
motivation. I can personally confirm this just by the membership attrition
(drop out) statistics in my health club. 50% of all people who join a health
club quit in the first three months. Here's how you can prevent becoming a
Always be on the lookout for something to
motivate and inspire you - anything! Go see a movie, watch a video, read a book
or article. Hire a coach or personal trainer. Get a training partner. Think
about your goals and write them out repeatedly. Pick a role model of someone
you want to look like. Attend a competition. Enter a competition. Hang out with
people who motivate you. Ditch the people who don't support you (I'm not
kidding - get out of unsupportive relationships fast!) The list of motivational
methods is endless.
Some people ask me, "why bother" with all
that positive thinking, goal setting and motivational stuff? They insist that
"motivation" doesn't last. I always tell them they're right! Motivation doesn't
last - but neither does bathing and you do that every day, don't you? Every day
you must ask yourself, "What can I do, find, listen to or watch to get inspired
today?" Then follow through.
I recently watched a movie called Without
Limits, which is the story of Steven Prefontaine, the runner. Even though I'm a
bodybuilder and not a runner, that movie got me so motivated I ran to the gym
and blasted out a leg workout like never before, smashing through several PR's
(personal records). I also have the videos of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics
narrated by Bud Greenspan. If watching Michael Johnson win his races and accept
his gold medals doesn't motivate you, then nothing will.
For the bodybuilders, here's an old
motivational stand-by. Watch (or re-watch) Pumping Iron. One of the absolute
best ways to get motivated is to spend time in serious thought about what you
want to accomplish and then write it down, which leads us to the next
SET NEW (AND BIGGER) GOALS:
If you ever feel unmotivated and you want to
get over it, just take a look at your goal list. What? You don't carry a
frequently updated, written goal list around with you? Well, I guess we know
why you're not motivated don't we?
Goal setting is not an event - it is an
ongoing process. When you move up the ladder to intermediate status, the modest
goals of a beginner are a thing of the past. "I am walking for 30 minutes three
days every week" is a great beginning, but now it's time to move out of the
Goals are the fuel in the fire of
motivation. Goals get you out of bed early and into the gym in the morning.
Goals keep you on the treadmill for forty-five minutes when you feel like
stopping at thirty. In a set of ten reps, goals are what make you push for that
eleventh and twelfth rep.
Goals are so much more powerful than you can
imagine. Read any book on the subconscious mind, such as "Psycho Cybernetics"
by Maxwell Maltz or "The Power of Your Subconscious Mind" by Dr. Joseph Murphy
and you'll begin to understand why goals are so important. If you don't have
goals...and if you don't have a new set of them every few months, then you're
not ready to move up to the next level. And one last thing - a goal is not a
goal if it's not in writing - its only a wish (as in wishy-washy).
MOVE UP TO A 2 DAY SPLIT ROUTINE:
A full body routine performed three days per
week is probably the best way for a beginner to start weight training. However,
this routine gets old fast. Within months or even weeks, you will outgrow it
and you'll need to add exercises.
The problem is, the more exercises you add,
the longer your workouts will become. If your workouts are too long, you begin
to reach a point of diminishing returns, and ultimately, the excessive duration
has a negative effect. The solution is a split routine. A split routine means
that instead of doing all your exercises in one session, you "SPLIT" your body
in half and train one half on DAY ONE and the second half on DAY TWO
Adding more exercises allows you to:
1) Work each muscle more thoroughly and more
deeply into the fibers
2) Work the entire muscle group; for
example, front deltoid, side deltoid AND rear deltoid
3) Concentrate on each muscle more instead
of spreading your attention out
4) Apply more energy and effort to each body
part instead of holding back and conserving energy for the last few muscles
Here's a sample 2 day split:
Day one: Chest, shoulders, triceps,
Day two: Thighs, Back, Biceps, calves,
And here's how it would fit into the week if
you're training four days per week and hitting each muscle twice per week:
Mon: Chest, Shoulder, Triceps, Abs
Tues: Thighs, Back, Biceps, calves
Wed: Off (or just cardio)
Thu: Chest, Shoulder, Triceps, Abs
Fri: Thighs, Back, Biceps, calves
Sat: Off (or just cardio)
Sun: Off: Total rest day
Here's one important tip when you're
designing your own split routines: CHANGE YOUR EXERCISES FREQUENTLY! This will
help alleviate boredom and prevent your muscles from "adapting" to the routine
(Changing routines every 4 to 12 weeks is called the "muscle confusion"
JOIN A HEALTH CLUB OR INVEST IN SOME NEW
EQUIPMENT FOR YOUR HOME GYM
Does your workout still consist of walking
around the block, and/or doing the Billy blanks Tae Bo video or the Richard
Simmons Sweating to the Oldies video in your living room in front of the TV?
If so, then don't worry, I'm not going to
make fun of you - actually I want to congratulate you for doing more than 95%
of the lazy world population - you got started! However, if you're reading
this, you've expressed interest in moving up to the next level, so it's time to
put those 2nd grade workouts back on the shelf and move up to something with a
little more "punch" (pardon the pun).
First, I'm going to repeat my advice from
part one of this series: Join a health club! Since you'll be adding new
exercises, a good health club will put an almost infinite number of exercise
choices at your fingertips. Many people are scared to join a gym "until they
get in shape." Now that's really putting the cart before the horse isn't it? If
you're in this category, let me put you at ease
You'd be amazed how supportive the
environment is in a good health club. I've been in the health club industry for
14 years and I've never heard a member or employee of any club I've worked in
make fun of a beginner or someone out of shape. (Personally, I NEVER make fun
of the beginners or intermediates. I like to make fun of the blunders made by
the "big-ego, know it all experts," but "gym blunders" will have to be the
subject of another article.)
I've seen people who were very overweight in
our club and the attitude of the staff and members is usually one of "Good for
you! Is there any way I can help?" In fact, you're more likely to get a
derogatory comment from someone on the street than you are in a health club.
You owe it to yourself to put yourself in a positive, supportive, caring
environment and there's no better place than a health club.
It also helps to realize that everyone has
to start somewhere, and everyone was "out of shape" when they started. We're
all in the same boat in the beginning and intermediate learning stages. If you
choose not to join a club, that's fine too, but you'd be well advised to invest
in a few additional pieces of equipment beyond the bare basics.
Let's assume you own a bench and a set of
dumbbells. The next additions to your home gym should be a barbell set, a set
of squat racks and a cable-pulley apparatus with a high and a low pulley. By
owning these pieces equipment, you've just opened up a whole new world of
exercise options for yourself such as:
Barbell squats, barbell lunges, barbell
rows, barbell bench press, barbell shoulder press, barbell curls, barbell
tricep extensions, wide grip lat pulldowns, close grip lat pulldowns, low cable
rows, triceps pushdowns and cable curls.
By the way, why so much talk about weights?
Isn't fat loss mostly nutrition and cardio? Yep, that's true. However, I'm
emphasizing weight training because it plays a bigger role in fat loss than
most people realize. If you're busy aerobicizing and dieting without hitting
the weights, you're much more likely to lose muscle along with the fat. And
when the muscle goes, your metabolism begins to go down the tubes too.
READ, STUDY AND LEARN:
I know you're just a budding "intermediate"
now, but would you like to know how to rapidly blast through the intermediate
stage, into the advanced stage and then ultimately go even beyond the advanced
stage and become an expert? If so, here's how: Read one hour a day, five days a
week, about training, nutrition, and personal achievement. In three years you
will be an expert.
Suppose you only read 30 minutes a day, but
you do it every day as a discipline. That's one book per week, 52 books per
year, 520 books in ten years. Think about the level of knowledge you'll
achieve. I personally read two or three hours a day, I have 1700 books in my
library and several hundred audio and video programs. I'll miss an hour of
sleep before I'll miss an hour of reading. People always ask me how I learned
so much about bodybuilding and nutrition. Now you know.
Here are some good places to start: Get a
good book about motivation and psychology. Here's one of the best: "Maximum
Achievement" By Brian Tracy. Also, get a good cassette program about motivation
so you can listen in your car and while you do your cardio. What? You listen to
music? Thought so. Most beginners do. Highly effective people and achievers
always double up and do two things at once whenever possible. Why not kill two
birds with one stone? Learn while you get lean! Here's a suggestion: pick up
Jim Rohn's audio program "The Art of Exceptional Living."
Next month, the conclusion to the Fat Loss
From Beginner to Advanced Success Series. I'm going to reveal a few of my
competition-level training and nutrition secrets that I usually only share with
my protégés so stay tuned.
This article originally appeared in the
March 2002 issue of Tom Venuto's Bodybuilding and Fitness Secrets (BFS)
Newsletter. If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive others like
it for free every month, you can subscribe to BFS here:
Tom Venuto is a bodybuilder, gym
owner, freelance writer, success coach and author of "Burn the Fat, Feed The
Muscle" (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World's Best Bodybuilders and
Fitness Models. Tom has written over 150 articles and has been featured in
IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine,
Exercise for Men and Mens Exercise. Tom's inspiring and informative
articles on bodybuilding, weight loss and motivation are featured regularly on
dozens of websites worldwide. For information on Tom's "Burn The Fat" e-book,