There are certain things in life that just go together perfectly.
Like peanut butter and jelly.
Or milk and cookies.
Or strength gain and fat loss.
Yep. Strength gain and fat loss. Together. Meaning you can gain strength and get leaner at the same time.
I know it sounds pretty outrageous, especially with all of the misinformation floating around these days. But I’m here to tell you that getting stronger and losing body fat is very possible.
Provided you’ve got the right training and nutrition program, you should expect to burn fat and boost strength.
After a lot of work and some long nights, I’ve put together a free challenge program called Strength Workouts for Fat Loss to help you get stronger while getting leaner. Go HERE to grab your free manual now (but be sure to read the rest of this article too).
Here are 4 of the most important things you must do if strength gain and fat loss are your goals.
#1 Choose Your Exercises Carefully
One of the most important factors in building strength is using the right exercises for the goal.
I won’t say that there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ exercises to use, but picking certain ones will help you to improve strength a heck of a lot faster.
Gaining strength is largely a bi-product of progressive overload and consistency. The best exercises for total-body strength gains are going to be your compound barbell exercises and bigger movements in general.
If gaining strength is a focal point, then doing a ton of isolation work like curls and triceps kickbacks isn’t going to give you the return on investment that you’re quite looking for.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love doing some isolation work, especially for the arms. But, we’re talking about increasing strength here.
Which means exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, pullups, lunges, and glute bridges are going to be the king exercises for developing a stronger body.
Squats utilize many muscles in the lower body.
Deadlifts tax your back and lower body too.
Bench presses work a majority of the upper body.
I think you get the idea here.
Pick the big exercises and reap the rewards. Of course they’re not easy.
But we aren’t talking about getting mediocre results.
At least, I don’t think we are.
Gaining strength requires a ton of effort, the right exercises, and plenty of sweat. But it’s all worth it to know that you’re stronger in the end than when you started.
Here’s my online client, Andy, crushing some back squats like a boss. He’s also down over 20 lbs since we started working together.
Pretty freakin amazing if you ask me. Andy has utilized some of the methods from my new challenge guide, Strength Workouts for Fat Loss, and is one of the strongest 50-year-olds I know.
Is this a male only thing, or can women get stronger and improve body composition too?
This hybrid strength and fat loss program was designed to work well with both males and females.
Women can absolutely get stronger and lose body fat.
Take another online client of mine, Laura, for example. She’s an absolute workhorse and has competed in 2 powerlifting meets thus far.
She’s proof that you can get stronger and leaner.
So don’t worry ladies, getting stronger doesn’t mean getting ‘bulky.’
#2 The most important but overlooked aspect of fat loss
If big, compound exercises are the must-haves for building strength, then what’s the biggest ingredient for fat loss?
Not eating after 7pm.
Sorry, just kidding 🙂
With respect to calories, the most important piece of the fat loss puzzle is hands down consistency.
Without it, you’ll struggle to see much in the way of progress.
So why is being consistent so important for fat loss?
Well for one, results take time. More than a couple days and weeks of eating ‘better’ and working out.
There’s no such thing as a perfect training plan. Or a perfect diet.
Consistency in the long term is exactly what will help you get results (in addition to a good training and nutrition plan like Strength Workouts for Fat Loss).
I think if people figured out how to be consistent over time, they would be amazed at the progress they’ll make.
Sometimes life happens and stuff gets in the way of your plans. If you’re normally pretty good with your nutrition then a night out won’t derail your long-term progress.
You know why?
Because you’ve been consistent and your body isn’t going to change from one meal or a night out.
If you’ve been following a solid training plan and have to skip a day for some reason, you’re not going to lose all of your strength and progress because of this.
Just simply pick right back up where you left off and keep moving forward.
Consistency isn’t an all or nothing approach. I think this is where a lot of people stumble because they have a do or die mentality.
And that’s just not how it works.
Follow your plan over time, putting in the effort and hard work, adjusting as necessary and you’ll see progress.
Because you’ve been consistent.
Did my online client Nita lose 25+ pounds and get stronger overnight? Of course not. She’s been working hard and following her plan consistently.
Remember, you don’t have to be perfect, nor should you be.
Just be consistent over time and you’ll do just fine.
Nita’s consistency here is quite impressive. I’m very proud of how far she’s come!
#3 Prioritize Sleep
Many people think they can just train hard and they’ll make gains. While you obviously have to train hard if you want to get stronger, there’s one component that tends to get a bit neglected: sleep.
Going on a 3-day drinking bender and staying up until 3 am each night probably isn’t doing much for your fat loss and strength progress.
But what do I know?
It will be super tough to gain strength and lose body fat if you aren’t taking your recovery seriously.
If your sleeping habits suck, your results likely will too.
Good nutrition and quality sleep are important factors outside of training hard. Don’t neglect the importance of sleep.
I’d recommend getting 6-8 hours a night, as consistently as possible. Of course, it’s easier said than done, but if you’re serious about changing your body and building strength, then you’ll make it happen.
I’ve fallen into the trap of goofing around at night and letting the time slip by. Instead of watching hours of tv, try to get to bed a bit earlier than you normally would. Not only will your progress in the gym skyrocket, but your quality of life will improve because you’ll be more well rested for whatever life throws your way.
Try these 3 sleep tips:
- Go to bed at the same time every night, preferably before midnight
- Avoid caffeine late in the day too close to bed
- Limit tv, cell phone, and electronic usage at bed time. Let your mind relax and you’ll be able to fall asleep faster. Try some light reading instead.
#4 Don’t Neglect All Cardio
Contrary to popular belief, cardio can actually enhance your strength and fat loss. Most people already know that cardio can help with fat loss, but don’t know that performing cardio can improve recovery.
Improved recovery is a huge asset to gaining strength so it’s important to include some form of cardio into your routine.
One of my favorite methods is through circuit-style conditioning.
To prevent strength interference, I like to keep these circuits fast paced and light-weight.
They’re quick and effective which makes them perfect for off days during a strength and fat loss phase.
But just because they aren’t ‘heavy’ doesn’t mean they aren’t really challenging. If you truly push yourself on these, then 7-12 minutes is all you’ll need.
Here’s a sample conditioning workout very similar to the circuits you’ll find in my free Strength Workouts for Fat Loss manual:
Total Body Circuit
A1. Goblet Squat x 10
A2. Spiderman Pushups x 5/side
A3. 1 Leg Hip Thrust x 5/side
A4. Inverted Row x 10
Instructions: Perform as many rounds in 7-12 minutes as possible. Use a light weight on the goblet squats and keep the tempo up.