So here we are again, another Tuesday and another ‘monster question’ I get asked on a daily basis by just about everybody – ‘what is the best exercise for fat loss?’
In a day and age where we want everything at the speed of light, with maximum convenience and minimum input of time, the notion of becoming a SUPER ATHLETE by simply adhering to a few ‘Holy Grail’ exercises really is an ideology that will get people sitting up and taking notice!
Now I’m not here to totally squash that thought process, although I definitely subscribe to the old school cliches that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and ‘You get out what you put in’ – I think I have Mr Crew Sr to thank for those, although he never reads my blog so I doubt very much he’ll ever see the digital credit he just received (pity!)
In all seriousness though, we are now a society that is all too happy to overlook the basic fundamentals of investing time, effort and money building something of substance and quality, in favour of drastically shortcutting our way to a certain desire – this coincidentally leads more often that not, to a feeling of disappointment that the end desire we created in our head looks very different from our actuality.
This is exactly how I explain the process of ‘fat loss’ to clients, friends, family and anyone else who is crazy enough to listen to me when I speak! As irritatingly pragmatic as it sounds, the best exercise for fat loss is not actually a practical exercise at all, it’s a mental exercise, and it’s called consistency! I have ready many a research paper, been on many a practical training course, read and practiced many a nutritional protocol, with all having that beautiful mantle of creating the ultimate fat loss experience – but I’m going to let you in on a little secret…………none of them work, some of them work and all of them work! That may sound a little like a riddle, but my point is this:
IF YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE A CERTAIN BODY COMPOSITION GOAL, FIND A METHODOLOGY THAT WORKS FOR YOU, THEN BE CONSISTENT WITH IT…….CONSISTENTLY!
Contrary to what all those lovely media lead magazines, cookbooks, social media platforms, TV programmes and over-enthusiastic famous faces will tell you, there is no 1, 2, 5, 10 best exercises for fat loss (mind blown I know!) Yes there are some absolutely brilliant physical exercises you can practice and improve upon that will help, there are also some suitable nutritional protocols that will promote the results of fat loss, but do any of these inconsistently, or for a short period of time and quite frankly you’re not going to get to where you want and need to be.
It has been said that to achieve mastery level in anything you do, requires 10,000 hours of practice (that is over 27 years of work if you were to do the thing you wanted to improve upon for 1 hour every day!) Now whilst I’m not saying that achieving your dream fitness goal is going to require that same level of commitment, you are somewhere on that scale of repetition required to succeed, so you best start finding things you can be consistent with.
It is also fair to say at this point, that whilst doing anything active is better than sitting at home watching Eastenders whilst drinking 10 cups of Tetley’s, there really should be some level of specificity, overload and periodised progression in what you do if you want to accelerate your journey to SUPER ATHLETE, so if you struggle with understanding how to best challenge and push your body at the intensity needed to cause adaptation, this is where a good trainer / coach would come in handy – if you’re not in the Richmond or London area, sorry but you’ll have to wait until one of my awesome online programmes (currently being made) comes out so that you can purchase and get the next best thing to actually training with me!
So we’ve now established that there is no ‘best exercise for fat loss’ and that finding an activity / activities that you can be consistent with from a mental perspective is the quickest way to achieving your fitness goals, but don’t worry, I can hear what you’re probably saying……….James, what are YOUR best exercises for fat loss? Well, once again I do not specifically train for fat loss (although I maybe should from time to time) but I definitely have some ‘go-to’ exercises that are staples in most of my periodised training, and I will just alter the intensity / load / volume / tempo depending on what I am trying to achieve at the time.
I’ll document them here for you, just because I don’t want you leaving this blog feeling short-changed when you thought you were going to get some ‘Holy Grail’ training plan!
JCF TOP 3 EXERCISES
Crawl variations (bear & lizard crawls especially!)
This movement has probably become my favourite thing to do in the gym over the last year or so, not just because I feel super primal whilst performing them, but because the additional benefits of mobility, strength, coordination and muscle definition that I’ve seen off the back of doing them are exponentially better than most other things I’ve done in the gym.
Here’s a link to a short clip of my favourite athlete Conor McGregor performing a lizard crawl……..he’s far superior to me at performing them!
Pull up / Chin up
Now this exercise is the Holy Grail for most. The ultimate test of upper body strength and stability, it requires pretty much every muscle in the upper body working together at different times to execute effectively.
Below is a picture of the movement at three different stages, which will give you an idea of execution in case you’ve never tried it.
The daddy of the lower body exercises. It’s been said that pound for pound, the squat is the exercise that generates the greatest level of growth hormone release in the body (which is key if you’re looking to improve body composition) and some level of squat movement should be incorporated in to your training regime. There is nothing better than really working against the weight of a loaded barbell on your shoulders, accompanied by gravitational forces trying to keep you at the bottom of the position where your glutes and quads are screaming for you to get out of. One key point I always tell my clients however, is that you should never load a bad movement pattern, so it is critically important that you assess, or have some assess your movement ability prior to loading up on this movement.
Below again is another short video, this time of Russian Weightlifter (and absolute BEAST) Dmitry Klokov performing an ATG (ass-t0-grass) pause front squat with a whopping 250kg – DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, this guy has been perfecting these movements all of his life practically!!!
I hope you enjoyed this weeks blog, and once again gained some real value from it. As always please let me know your thoughts……..you know where to find me!
Speak to you all again next week.