Three essential principles of weight (fat) loss – Part 1.

Ben Dearman, KDR Fitness

I’ve been doing this a long time.  I got a bunch of certifications after my name.  In addition to an Exercise Science degree AND pursuing my Masters in Nutrition.

I can come up with at least 20 points to weight loss in 10 minutes.  That’s actually how this article started.  But, those are just my ideas and since…

Ideas are many,

Principles are few.

Ideas will change.

Principles never do.

I figured I would hit you with the principles of weight loss.  There are just three, but if you are not seeing the results you want to see, then you’re most likely screwing up one of these principles (at least).

  1. You must do more then you did last time – “Do More Work.” – principle of progressive overload.
  2. You must be in a caloric deficit – “Don’t be a dumb ass.” – principle of don’t be a dumb ass.
  3. You must allow your body to adapt and rest – “Rest and respond.” – principle of specific adaptations to imposed demands.

Let’s explore.  Without fail, when I sit down to troubleshoot some one’s results (or lack thereof) they are usually screwing up one of those points.

You must do more then you did last time – principle of progressive overload

The principle of progressive over load is just a fancy way of saying that your body will respond to new physical stress placed on it by getting stronger, losing weight, adding muscle mass, etc.

The key word there is “new”.  The first time you do a back squat, for instance, your body has no idea what’s going on.  It thinks, “Well this is new!  This is something I MUST adapt too!”

That adaptation requires energy.  Whether it’s energy to build muscle or energy for the activity, your body has two places to get that energy – stored and through the diet.

That adaptation is exactly what we want for weight loss, because building tissue is calorically more expensive then losing tissue.

Takes more cash to build a home then it does to tear it down.

More energy spent adapting to something the more calories you burn and consequently the more weight you lose.

There are basically only three ways to make an exercise new assuming that it’s old – meaning that you have done it already.

  1. Lift more weight.
  2. Do more reps/sets.
  3. Move the same or more weight in less time.

That about sums it up.

If you lift the same weight you did last time – that’s not new.

If you do the same sets and reps you did last time – that’s not new.

If you moved the same weight in the same amount of time as you did last time – that’s not new.

Failure to do one of those points means you failed at progressive overload, which means your body has no NEW push to adapt, which means no more weight loss.

How do you fix it?

Track these points – how long you spend in the gym, how much weight you lifted and how many sets and reps you did.  We are looking for a 5% improvement in about a third of what you do in a work out.

What the hell does that mean?!  Well, let’s say your work out looks like this –

6 exercises

3 sets of 10 reps for each.

Takes 50 minutes to get it done.

If I have those things – talking about load is important, but those three points contribute at least 60% to the equation.  Load is easy to figure out, but for the sake of giving examples I am going to just very quickly talk about it.  You could actually do more work (sets and reps) in less time with the same load you did last time and as long as you get the work out done 5% sooner – that’s all you have to do!  But…you need to get it done 5% quicker EVERY TIME.

To figure out load, add up all the weight you lifted in either your work out, or an exercise.  Let’s say I did 3 sets of 10 reps in the back squat with 100 pounds.  That’s 3000 pounds lifted.  I need to lift 150 more pounds in that lift to have a 5% improvement.  That means I have to lift 50 more pounds per set, or 105 pounds for 3 sets of 10 to see that 5% improvement.

Applying the 5% improvement to a third when we’re talking about exercises just means IF I CHOOSE to focus on increasing load THIS WORK OUT (you will need a different focus every work out) I need to figure out what a third is, and for this example it’s two exercises.

So, if I increase the weight lifted in two exercises by 5%, then I have satisfied my need for “new”.

Or, let’s say I want to increase the load lifted.

Some basic math – 6 exercises times 30 reps (3 sets of 10 reps) gives me 180 reps, 5% of that is 9 reps.  So all I have to do is perform 9 more reps at the same weight and I have just done something “new”.

If we look at the time piece – 50 minutes is how long it took me to get my work out done, so if I get it done in 2.5 minutes less, then I did something “new.”

That’s it!

That’s how you fix that problem – 5% for a third of what you do to make it new, and track it.


That’s Part 1 – Check back next week for part 2!

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