This is the same theory behind "Turbulence Training", a combination of resistance training and interval training designed to lead you to the promised land of single-digit body fat.
These are the words that you often hear a trainer say to clients that are seeking to gain muscle and strength. But how often are variety and change used in fat loss programs?
More often, fat-loss folk are simply told to do more cardio and eat less. But that never works as well as it should. Many people end up over-exercising or starving themselves and find that they only lose muscle, not fat.
But a smart trainer realizes that clients must do something else besides cut calories and exercise more. And that's why the top trainers use variety in their fat loss programs.
Variety in training stimulates adaptation in your body. For example, if you consistently lift heavy weights, your body will respond by adding muscle (provided you supply the necessary nutrients).
The problem is that your body rapidly adapts to training. Now the gains from that once successful program will diminish, suggesting that your training variables should be changed regularly. And this makes perfect sense.
If you ask your body to lift the same weight week in and week out, your body will only change enough in order to meet that demand. Your body is very smart and efficient.
So, in order to continually lose fat and gain muscle, you must continually change your program variables. Constantly changing your exercises and other variables ends up making your body burn more energy (calories and fat) in order to adapt to the stress.
For beginners, you may be able to go more than 4 weeks before adapting to a program and reaching the point of diminished returns. In contrast, really advanced trainees may need to adjust their programs within as little as 2 weeks in order to maintain fat loss.
The advanced trainee's body has simply become too efficient in a low-calorie state and just won't drop any more fat unless the training demand exceeds the body's efficiency.
For fat loss veterans, stick with your program for a maximum of 4 weeks. Then change, even if you are not experiencing a plateau in fat loss. Your changes can be as simple as changing exercises, changing the technique for some exercises, or decreasing the number of reps per set.
You can also choose to be more radical and completely change up the exercises you are using (that is what I do in each new phase of any of my special reports and manuals).
As for exercise choices, you need to concentrate on the basics. There are no shortcuts, but a consistent effort will bring you results. Don't think that "cutting exercises" such as pec-deck, biceps curls, and leg extensions should be the focus of your weight training.
Turbulence Training (TT) is a demanding program that may allow you to keep more strength than you ever have before during a fat loss program.
The heavy resistance will promote protein turnover and a better body composition, all the while keeping your strength at pre-fat loss levels.
Why? Well, a recently released study concluded that, "Resting metabolic rate is related to protein turnover". This study found that young people with more muscle seemed to have a higher resting metabolic rate (RMR).
More importantly, however, the same study found that metabolism is related to protein turnover. Protein turnover can be stimulated by activities such as heavy resistance training and interval training.
In fact, the harder you train, the greater the protein turnover. That's why you will get better results from performing sets of 6-8 than you will with sets of 12 or more. And this has been known for quite a while now.
Way back in the day, I wrote this summary of a study from the 2001 annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine:
"If you are looking for a great mode of exercise that will improve your body composition, resistance training may be for you. In this study, females currently training with weights underwent 2 individual weight workouts at different intensity levels.
In session 1, they performed 2 sets of 15 repetitions (for 9 exercises) while in the other session they performed 2 sets of 8 repetitions (for 9 exercises).
The results showed that the high intensity resistance training (2 sets of 8 repetitions) resulted in greater overall daily energy expenditure.
The bottom line: Heavy resistance training has long been under-rated by those seeking to lose body fat, however it is likely the best type of exercise to improve your body composition because it promotes both energy expenditure and muscle growth."1
And don't get caught up in thinking that 'cardio' is the most important aspect of a fat loss program. Many successful trainers know that weight training and nutrition are far more important. And the best trainers also know that interval training is the third secret to success for fat-loss programs.
Research presented at the 2002 Ontario Exercise Physiology Conference showed that: "Intense exercise increases use of free-fatty acids after exercise during glycogen resynthesis".
This suggests that in the recovery period after intense exercise, the body will depend more heavily on fats for energy while it replenishes muscle carbohydrate stores.
And research conducted by Dr. Angelo Tremblay at Laval University in Quebec has shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective for fat loss than continuous low-intensity 'aerobic' training.
I have found that all athletes, fitness models, bodybuilders, business executives, and everyday people should use some type of high-intensity interval training to lose body fat and maintain muscle.
So forget about hour-long stationary cycling workouts because you can get the same or more fat-burning benefits in 20 minutes. Exercise intensity is the most important factor determining post-exercise energy expenditure and fat loss success.
In comparison, the effects of aerobic training are simple. You burn calories while you are doing it, but once activity ends, that is it. No mas (no more). No more calories burned and definitely no muscle gained!
However, when you create a metabolic disturbance in the body, such as that which occurs from muscle damage invoked by resistance training or from intense interval training, you will have a more potent stimulus for change in the structure of your body.
That is, you should have a more potent stimulus for fat loss and muscle growth.
Turbulence Training Guidelines
- Train 3 days per week. Alternate between Workouts A & B.
- Each workout will be resistance training followed by Interval Training.
- Perform 2-4 sets per exercise and 6-8 repetitions per set.
- Pair "non-competing" exercises in supersets.
- Rest 1 minute between exercises.
- Perform 2 warm-up sets for each exercise.
- Conclude each workout with Interval Training.
- Change the exercises in the workout every 4 weeks.
- Get your nutrition together! Decrease your caloric intake by eliminating processed carbohydrates and some saturated fat from your diet. See the bonus reports that come with the TT for Fat Loss Special Report for more detailed information.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with feedback on the program.
And I will leave you with 2 supersets that I used with a client in his TT workout this weekend.
Bulgarian Split Squat
In summary, here is why Turbulence Training works:
Resistance training causes protein turnover. High-intensity interval training causes a great deal of metabolic disturbance. Much more so than a single bout of aerobic exercise performed at submaximal intensity.
The end result is that you burn more calories and more fat while adding more muscle and maximizing your metabolism better than any traditional high-rep, lots-of-cardio type fat loss program.
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, M.Sc.
Men's Fitness Training Adviser
CB Athletic Consulting, Inc.
- Thornton, K., et al. A Comparison of Two Different Resistance-training Intensities on Exercise Energy Expenditure and Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption.