Still have stubborn fat despite a powerlifting program?

A powerlifting regimen is not the best protocol for burning fat. Lifting the heaviest amount of weight does not translate to maximum fat burning.

You’d think it would, but it really doesn’t. Maximum fat burning occurs when you lift weights according to a bodybuilding, or “metabolic” protocol.

This doesn’t mean that a bodybuilding regimen will make you look like Arnold or bulk you up if you’re a woman.

The ability to get the appearance of a competitive bodybuilder is part genetic, strict dieting (not necessarily calorie restriction), and a heck of a lot of commitment.

Nevertheless, for optimal burning of fat, the bodybuilding, or “metabolic” regimen, is the way to go.

The metabolic approach generates the greatest hormonal response. It is hormones that fire up the fat burning, even though this weight lifting protocol doesn’t involve lifting the heaviest weights possible.

Let’s take the deadlift exercise as an example. Suppose you can deadlift 200 pounds barely eight times; the entire set is difficult.


It’s so difficult that you must take a two and a half minute rest before your next deadlift set…you need that time to recover enough to do another eight reps at 200 pounds; or, maybe your second set is six reps at 220, because you like to lift as heavy as possible for reps.

After the second set, again you take a two and a half minute break, then do a few more sets at 200 pounds or so with two and a half minutes in between.

This is more of a powerlifting protocol. You’ll burn fat alright, but not as much fat burning will occur, when compared to a hormonal or metabolic approach:

You deadlift 175 pounds…you can do 12 reps, but barely. Now, instead of the two and a half minute rest, you take only 45 seconds. You’re not fully recovered, of course, and thus do only 10 reps…barely.

You wait only 45 seconds before your third set at 175, and you struggle to do just six or seven reps. The last set is six reps.

Despite lifting lighter weight this time, you actually feel more worked-over than you normally do with the 200-plus pound regimen. The next day you’re sore.

The metabolic weight lifting approach creates more release of human growth hormone and testosterone, two hormones that act as powerful fat burners. Lactic acid is another fat burner that’s triggered.

The metabolic weight lifting protocol calls for a 30-45 second rest in between sets. However, and this is a mighty big however, the sets must be done to muscle failure! And beginning with an 8-12 rep max!

These are the ideal conditions for maximum fat burning with your weight lifting regimen. 

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 



Top image: Shutterstock/Miljan Zivkovic