Friday, October 15, 2010

Is it Simpler for Men to Cut Fat?

I recently addressed the topic "Is it harder for women to burn fat?" The conclusion was that, yes, it is more difficult because women are simply not as strong as men in an untrained state. So, if it is harder for women to burn fat, that should make it "easier" for men, right? That is true... at least to an extent. What types of limits do men have that they need to work on to look like the guys from Jersey Shore? (Just kidding).

The first thing men need to do, if they haven't done so already, is strength training. Just because they are naturally stronger than women doesn't mean they are strong enough to complete an effective fat loss program... and by strength training, I do not mean bodypart isolation training! I mean full body strength training! Squats, deadlifts, lunges, rows, pullups, military presses, bench presses, and their many variations are some of the most basic multijoint exercises that should comprise a starting strength program. Curls, triceps extensions, shrugs, etc. are not very useful for fat loss.

Of course, legs are far more important than arms. The problem with most dudes is that they don't train their legs at all (and if they do, they use those horrendous contraptions like the knee extension machine and the back breaker leg press machine). Lower body training should be the foundation in anybody's training program, no matter what the goal is (unless that goal is to have legs the size of a 10 year old girl).

Anyway, the point is that strength is still important, for guys and for girls.

What I want to talk about now, however, is a problem that a lot of guys, including myself, run into. One of the limiting factors discussed at length in The Theory of Fat Loss is the cardiorespiratory limit. I define the cardiorespiratory limit very broadly- how long the entire body can sustain training at a given intensity. The point of the last part of it (at a given intensity) is to qualify the training level. A guy may be in fine shape to run a mile in 6 minutes because that isn't necessarily all that intense. Is this person in shape to complete a training circuit consisting of 3 sets of 10 each of deadlifts at 225 pounds, bench press at 185 pounds, split squats at 135 pounds, and bent-over rows at 135 pounds in 6 minutes? He may be able to do one set of each of those lifts for 10 reps no problem, but when put into a circuit and given a time limit, can his body handle it?

So, the problem that most guys run into is that they are much stronger than their bodies can keep up with. What good is it for fat loss if a man is really strong but cannot string together all that strength to keep up the total intensity of the workout? What is the solution? As always, the solution is to train the weakness!

Guys hate this type of training, and that's why they don't do it. Lifting heavy weights is hard by itself. Lifting heavy weights while breathing really hard is about 10 times worse. Performing 3 repetitions at a 5 rep maximum isn't all that difficult mentally... but stringing together a circuit a 5-6 exercises for 5 sets of 3 repetitions at a 5 RM with 0 rest time between exercises is tough in every way. It tends to make people vomit. It makes for wonderful fat loss programs, however.

So, for men, the key is building strength first, then getting their bodies to handle all that strength. It's simple in concept, but it isn't easy!

If you are a strong guy and want to utilize a strength circuit as part of your program, start slow. By the end of a month, you'll probably be very fit! Pick a rep maximum that you want to use, and put a circuit together and perform a few reps less than the rep maximum. Perform multiple sets. Gradually decrease the rest time between exercises as you get in better shape. A stopwatch might be your best friend so something keeps you on schedule!

What do you think? Do you think it is simpler for men to cut fat? Share you opinion in the comments below!

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