Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Limiting Factor Theory of Fat Loss

The Theory of Fat Loss is comprised of two separate constructs, the theory of absolute intensity and the limiting factor theory. The limiting factor theory states- within any fat loss program exist multiple potential limits that can inhibit one's ability to achieve success, and a limit is defined as anything that negatively impacts one's ability to achieve or maintain a great(er) absolute intensity.

You know from reading previous entries on this blog that strength is one of the most important intensity factors that determines how easy it will be for one to burn fat. In fact, increasing strength is probably the best way to improve your intensity capacity. Not only that, but it is even more important for women. So, it should come as no surprise to you that one of the limits to fat loss is a lack of strength. In The Theory of Fat Loss book, strength is just one of several capacity limits. However, capacity limits are not the only limits you will encounter. There are functional limits such as posture and injury, and there are also time limits, to name a few.

The key to fat loss is the effective management of these limits. One way to manage these limits is to avoid them (the other way is to break through them). Let's say you are severely limited by strength. You can avoid a strength limit by modifying your workout to make it more intense in other ways. For example, you can choose to perform supersets, combination exercises, and complexes so you get more work in a short period of time. You can also increase the volume of your workout by adding in more exercises. The list is endless. It just depends on what your own personal limits are.

Homer doesn't manage his limits.

What are your fat loss limits, and what are you doing to avoid them? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. My limit is that I am in terrible shape. I'm pretty strong, but I can't workout very hard without losing my breath! How do I avoid that limit?

  2. One way to avoid that limit is to perform strength sets. Instead of performing circuits, just perform several sets of strength work and take plenty of rest time. Of course... you might find yourself in the gym for a while. So, what you might want to do is take a month working improving your conditioning. Then your strength can be extremely well utilized for fat loss!

  3. I'd have to say I'm limited by my shoulder strength. Whenever I was circuit training, throwing in a set of shoulders was bound to wear me out and throw off the rest of my circuit just enough that I could notice. I know you typically endorse compound lifts and total body training, but what do you think of me adding a shoulders-only day that focuses more on isolation?

  4. Timothy
    My roomate and I have concluded that school is our limiting factor in gaining strength and increasing fat loss. We sit for 8 hours a day at school and when we get home we sit yet again. The only thing our lazy butts like to do is eat and sleep (when we have time that is). How do you propose to fix those limiting factors?
    The Nanny Junkies

  5. @SwingKidPhys: Yes, that is perfectly fine provided you have the time to do it AND the time to recover from doing it.

    @Lauren: Time is one of the limits specifically addressed in The Theory of Fat Loss. There are global time limits and daily time limits. Global time limits are when you only have a certain number of days/weeks/months to reach a goal. Daily time limits are when you only have a limited amount of time per day to train. You have a couple of options for this. Your workouts should be short and fast, and you should be constantly moving or under tension the entire time. Pick exercises that require your intense focus and your entire body (complexes are one example, Turkish get-ups are another example). If you can find 20 minutes to do a workout like this, that's a good start!


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