One research study comes out saying that cardio is the only way to burn fat, another says that running makes you fat, then yet another comes out saying that the only way you’ll see your abs is to get your stomach stapled and buy a raspberry-ketone-green-coffee-acai-berry-super-cleanse potion. (Thanks Dr. Oz.)
Where does that leave most of us?
Well, I’m here to help. Fat loss is really just a metabolic process – influenced heavily by our hormones and nutrition – and it doesn’t have to be all that complicated.
When it comes to exercising, many different exercises will help you lose fat – and that’s the truth.
However, some exercises help you build an ideal physique, while others don’t. And not all will optimize your hormonal environment which, in the end, is what you really want.
Optimized hormones = effortless fat loss and lean muscle maintenance.
Here’s what you want to do:
- Decrease cortisol (stress hormone)
- Increase anabolic hormones
… yes, there’s another variable in this equation (something that very few people actually think about)… but I’ll leave that for a future post.
Fortunately, cortisol and anabolic hormones act in opposition to each other. If we train to optimize the latter, the former will naturally decrease.
And that keeps things simple.
So what’s the best way to optimize our anabolic hormones?
Two words: compound movements.
Studies have found that explosive full-body movements will simultaneously increase our anabolic hormones (growth hormone, testosterone, etc.) while decreasing circulating cortisol, lowering our body’s chronic stress response.
- Sprinter = full body explosive movements = ripped and muscular.
- Long distance runner = chronically-elevated cortisol = skinny-fat and weak.
So what are some compound movements you can be doing to improve your hormonal balance?
Here are my 5 favorites:
- Burpees: Yes, these hurt… but in that “oh so good” kind of way. Doing short rounds of burpees for 60 seconds will get your heart rate up in seconds and will give you an outstanding full-body explosive workout. Really work to explode as you jump into the air at the peak of the movement.
- Deadlifts: The deadlift engages not only your arms and back, but also your full core – front and back – along with many muscles in your legs and feet. Lifting heavy for low reps really challenges your entire body and is great for fat loss and, believe it or not, great abs.
- Power Cleans: Before doing these make sure you study up on the proper form – we don’t want any injuries. When done properly, cleans can be a single-movement workout all by themselves. You engage almost every muscle in your body – even your face – and you really work on explosive power in your arms and legs as you make the wrist transition before lifting overhead.
- Sprinting: It goes without saying that sprinting is an incredible workout. You don’t even have to sprint very far to get serious benefits: the results are a direct result of your effort. Go hard and you’ll start to look and feel great. You’ll get a well-proportioned look and keep lean, hard muscle in all the right places.
- Pull-ups: Believe it or not, pull-ups engage much of your body, including your core. And with correct form (straight legs) you even engage your legs. Pull-ups can be done fast or slow, high or low. If you get really good at them you can even venture into plyometric territory: try a clap pull-up or plyo pull-up. They’re an extremely efficient movement for building a great physique for both men and women.
Master these five exercises and you’ll never need anything else. I mean it.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Let’s optimize those hormones. 🙂