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By womensfitness

Pounding the treadmill may crush calories, but there’s a faster, more effective way to shift fat for good. Dave Fletcher tells all

Revealed! The real secret to fat loss -
Revealed! The real secret to fat loss 

If you’re a regular reader of Women’s Fitness, you’ll probably know that we reckon weight training is just as important as cardio for fat loss. Not only does weight training boost your metabolism and firm you up all over, it’s also great for shifting those stubborn bulges. But there’s more science behind it than you may think, and it’s all to do with your muscle fibres. By knowing how they work, and how to get the best from them, you can blitz your wobbly bits forever. Hurrah! 

Which twitch is which?

Our muscle fibres are split into two main types: slow twitch and fast twitch. Slow-twitch fibres contract slowly and

rely on oxygen as their main energy source. They can 

be used for longer periods 

of time; for instance, athletes who run long distances 

need more slow-twitch 

fibres in their legs.  

Fast-twitch fibres, on the other hand, contract quickly and provide strength and speed, though they also fatigue more quickly. Sprinters require short but intense bursts of energy and so need more fast-twitch muscle fibres. Fast-twitch muscle fibres rely on the energy-carrying molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and glycogen as their main energy sources. As ATP sources can be rapidly depleted and lactic acid is a by-product of the breakdown of glycogen, fast-twitch fibres can only be active for a short time.

Different types of exercise will determine whether your fast- or slow-twitch fibres have to work to complete the task ahead. Basically, aerobic exercise will stimulate your slow-twitch fibres and weights, sprints and circuits will stimulate your fast-twitch fibres.

Fast weight loss

It has been drummed into us that for maximum weight loss, we should focus on our slow-twitch fibres by doing steady-state cardiovascular exercise. But in recent years, sports science has proven that women who focus on stimulating their fast-twitch fibres by doing weight training, sprints and kickboxing lose fat and overall body weight far quicker. A study from Boston University revealed that the increase in muscle mass you get by pumping iron can reduce your body fat, which in turn reduces overall body mass 

and lowers the risk of adult diabetes.

You don’t need to panic about putting on bulk by weight training, either. This ultimately comes down to hormones and calories. Women simply don’t have the testosterone to bulk up, even if 

they are doing weight training. This is the most misunderstood message among female exercisers, and it’s really important that you don’t let it get in the way of your dream body. 

Weights and sprint training will help you lose fat because of the effect that our muscles have on the body’s ability to burn calories at rest (our metabolic rate). If your workouts involve fast-twitch muscle stimulation by using weights, sprints or kickboxing moves, your body will continue to burn fat for up to eight hours after a session. Slow-twitch workouts (such as long runs, extended swims or cross-training sessions) are a different story. You will only burn fat for about an hour after a slow-twitch session. 

Mix it upAn effective fat-loss programme will focus on stimulating all of 

your muscle fibres by mixing up weights, circuits and cardio. Women reach a plateau in their fitness when they focus 100 per cent of their gym time on their slow-twitch muscles fibres (i.e. running or cross training). Weight training and high-intensity exercise are far more powerful fat-loss tools. Ultimately, a combination of exercises that stimulate slow- and fast-twitch 

fibres is the recipe for weight-loss success.

The fat-burning workout over the following pages is a good example of how to stimulate your fast-twitch muscle fibres, provided you lift heavy enough weights. Each set should be so tough that you are struggling to finish the last rep!

by muscleandfitness
In our search for the most effective weight training exercises for athletes, we decided to contact a handful of the country’s best trainers and strength coaches and ask them each one simple, yet ever-perplexing question: What is the single best exercise a ballplayer, fighter or any other sportsman for that matter can do to improve his performance on the field, the court, the track or the ring?
5 Best Exercises for Increased Performance -
5 Best Exercises for Increased Performance
The typical response included lots of head-scratching, and more than one trainer made the point that it’s virtually impossible to pick one single move that trumps all others. Fair enough. So we rephrased the question: If for some odd reason, you were limited to one exercise to prescribe to your athletes, what would it be?
In the end, the trainers came through in fine fashion and delivered the following 5 exercises. Each individual had his own reason for choosing the exercise he did, but overall, any one exercise on the list will work for a number of sports, from football to fighting to sand volleyball on the weekends, provided that sport requires some combination of strength, power, flexibility and conditioning. (All you dart throwers and foosball players out there, sorry, you’re out of luck.) Fortunately, you’re not limited to picking just one exercise. Work several (or even all) of them into your current lifting program and we promise you’ll be that much more of a beast in your chosen sporting arena in no time.
Barbell Step-Up

Contributor: David Sandler, MS, CSCS, co-owner of StrengthPro Inc., a Las Vegas based sports performance and nutrition consulting group (

Where it hits: Quads, glutes, abs

Why it’s effective: “Step-ups require a high degree of strength, coordination and balance – all marks of true athleticism,” says Sandler. “From a balance standpoint, using a barbell makes the move significantly more difficult than using dumbbells. A bar can sway side to side and front to back, whereas with dumbbells you can easily drop them to the floor if you lose balance.”

How to do it: Place a loaded barbell across your upper traps like you would when squatting and stand facing a plyometric box or other stable raised surface. (The height of the box should be such that when one foot is on the floor and the other is up on the box, the lead thigh is parallel to the floor.) Step up onto the box with one foot and press down into the box to raise your body up until the working leg is fully extended, then lower yourself back to the starting position, both feet on the floor. Alternate legs every other rep, or complete all reps with one leg and then switch legs.

How much to do: 3-4 sets, 8 reps per leg, 1½-2 minutes rest between sets

Conventional Deadlift

Contributor: Robert T. Williams, MS, CSCS, Division Fitness and Performance Specialist for EAS in Columbus, Ohio.

Where it hits: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, back

Why it’s effective: “One element of training that is often overlooked is inertia – more commonly understood as starting strength,” says Williams. “In most sports, you need to be able to accelerate quickly to the ball, or toward or away from a teammate or opponent. This requires explosiveness and strength, both of which are developed by deadlifting. Deadlifts will train the muscles to overcome your own body’s inertia to accelerate, but it will also allow you to overcome your opponent’s inertia in contact sports like football, rugby or wrestling, where you’re required to stop and/or takedown an opponent.”

How to do it: Position your feet shoulder-width apart beneath a loaded barbell touching your shins. Squat down and grasp the bar with a shoulder-width, pronated (palms facing back) grip. With your chest up and back flat, lift the bar by extending your hips and knees to full extension. Keep your arms straight throughout as you drag the bar up your legs to a standing position. Squeeze your back, legs and glutes for a count, then lower the bar back down to the floor.

How much to do: For increasing absolute strength, Williams recommends 5-6 sets of 3-5 reps using 85%-90% of your 1RM; for developing explosiveness, he recommends 3-4 sets of 5-6 reps with 50%-60% of your 1RM.

Bench Press Throws

Contributor: Tim Scheett, PhD, assistant professor in the department of health and human performance at the College of Charleston and an associate editor for the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.

Where it hits: Chest, shoulders, triceps

Why it’s effective: “The one thing that many people tend to forget when training for sports is the importance of developing explosive power for the upper body,” says Scheett. “Whether we’re talking about football, basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, wrestling, whatever, every athlete benefits from having great upper body explosiveness. And perhaps the best exercise for this is the bench press throw, because it utilizes relatively light weight and can be performed in a Smith machine, though I recommend a good spotter to ensure safety when catching the bar on the way down.”

How to do it: Center a flat bench in a Smith machine so that the bar lowers to your middle chest. Lie back, take a shoulder-width grip on the bar and unhook the latches. Slowly lower the bar to your chest as if you were doing a normal set of bench press. When the bar reaches your chest, explosively press it upward so that it literally leaves your hands at the top of the rep. After releasing, keep a slight bend in your elbows and catch the bar as it comes back down. Reset your hands so they’re even before doing the next rep.

How much to do: 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps with 3-5 minutes rest between sets using 30%-50% of your 1R

High-Hip Deadlift

Contributor: Mike Dolce, a former powerlifter and a strength coach and nutritionist to various elite UFC fighters.

Where it hits: Hamstring, glutes, lower back, core

Why it’s effective: “In my experience, most athletes, not just mixed martial artists, have terribly weak hamstrings, glutes and lower backs due to flexibility issues and undertraining,” says Dolce. “The high-hip deadlift directly addresses flexibility while building tremendous strength through the entire posterior chain [hamstrings, glutes, lower back] and core.”

How to do it: Stand over a loaded barbell on the floor with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, your heels under your knees, your knees under your hips, your toes pointed forward and the bar directly over the midpoint of your shoelaces. Bend down and grasp the bar with a shoulder-width grip while keeping a tight arch in your lower back and bending your knees only slightly. Keeping your weight on your heels, your knees fixed in a slightly bent position and your hips high, explode the bar off the floor, driving through the upright position and slamming your upper thighs into the bar. Keeping your muscles tight, allow gravity to pull the bar back to the floor and let your hips “float” back to the starting position.

How much to do: Leading up to a fight, Dolce typically has his high-level fighters perform 5-minute rounds of 20-rep sets of high-hip deadlifts separated by rest periods consisting of 3-8 very deep breaths (eight deep breaths equates to roughly 40 seconds).

Power/Hang Clean

Contributors: Adam Mosher, CSCS, former head strength and conditioning coach for NASCAR’s Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and current pit crew member for Martin Truex Jr.’s #56 NAPA Auto Parts car; Jeff Kerr, a Hendrick Motorsports pit crew member who has also assisted Mosher as a strength coach.

Where it hits: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, core, shoulders, traps

Why it’s effective: “The hang clean is the perfect lift to improve strength, flexibility, balance, body control and explosiveness,” says Mosher. “In any sport, including pit stops [in NASCAR], those five factors are the pillars to being a great athlete.” “I agree with cleans,” says Kerr,” but I would choose the power clean for all the reasons Mosher mentioned and because it involves a little more lower body strength and power, since the bar starts on the ground.”

How to do it: Stand over a loaded barbell on the floor with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down to grasp the bar with an overhand grip, your chest out and your torso bent at 45 degrees. Keeping your entire body tensed, drive explosively through your heels to straighten your knees and bring your hips forward until the bar is at hip height, then immediately pull the bar up to your shoulders and squat under it as you catch it on your shoulders with your elbows pointed forward. Extend your hips and knees to stand straight up with the bar resting on your upper chest and front delts. Lower the bar back to the floor and repeat.

When doing hang cleans, the motion is the same, except that you start the movement in a standing position with the bar hanging straight down in front of you. Initiate the movement by dipping your hips down with a relatively shallow bend of the knees and exploding upward.
How much to do: Mosher recommends five sets of 3-5 reps using 60%-70% of your 1RM and roughly 70-second rest periods.

You’d like to think it’s never too late to start, but the truth is that clock is ticking when it comes to getting those washboard abs in time for beach weather. Don’t panic, though: get started with these tips today and you’ll be set for a (mostly) shirtless summer.

The adage that “abs are made in the kitchen” is totally right, but almost as important is making sure you’re using proper form when you’re working toward better definition and strength in your core. These guidelines ensure you’re not wasting your time—or worse, setting yourself up for injury
8 Performance Pointers for Summer Six-Pack Abs -
8 Performance Pointers for Summer Six-Pack Abs

1. Hold the peak contraction

By consciously squeezing and momentarily holding the peak contraction at the top of each rep, you’ll work your abdominals harder and be less inclined to race through your repetitions.

2. Move at a smooth, deliberate pace

Use a slow, strict motion that increases the intensity of the contraction and minimizes momentum. Momentum is created using fast, explosive motions, which reduce the quality of your workout and invite injury.

When you think of ab exercises, the first one that usually comes to mind is the situp. While the situp is OK when performed properly, there's other options that place less strain on the neck, spine, and lower back, especially for people who spend countless hours sitting or working at a computer. "Spinal flexion," which basically means you sit in a hunched crunched position for too long, is similar to a situp, and over time, can cause numerous problems including poor posture, pain, and decreased performance.

The No-Situp Ab Workout -
The No-Situp Ab Workout

Instead of doing situps give these three exercises a try:
Single-arm Weighted Carries
Pushup Hold Walkouts
Side Plank
1. Single-arm Weighted Carries
The single-arm weighted carry is a go-to exercise, every workout. It's very simple to perform and very beneficial in many ways. Simply grab a weight in one hand and start walking.

Some tips to quality weighted carries are:
1. Maintain good posture. Chest up, eyes up, and shoulders back. Be sure to not hunch or round the shoulders or upper back.
2. Brace Your Core. To do this, flex your core like someone is going to punch you in the stomach. This immediately will give you the feeling of creating a brace.
3. Make a fist with your free hand. This will create more full body tension, which will make this more of a full-body exercise.
2. Pushup Hold Walkouts
This is a simple yet effective core exercise that requires no equipment that will turn your abs to bricks.
1. Start in a pushup position with your hands under your shoulders.
2. Brace your core like you're going to get punched and squeeze your glutes as hard as possible.
3. From here start walking your hands upward, one at a time past your head. Keep walking your hands up slowly and controlled.
4. Your core will immediately brace and you'll feel your midsection lock down.
5. Hold the walk-out position for 3-5 seconds, walk your hands back to pushup, position, and repeat.
3. Side Plank
Planks and side planks are a great exercise for core strength, improving hip issues, and helping people with lower-back pain. The side plank especially is a low-risk, high-benefit exercise.
To do a side plank:
1. Lie on your side. Put your top leg directly in front of your bottom leg. The heel of your top foot should be in line with tips of your toes of the bottom foot.
2. Take the elbow of the side you're lying on and prop yourself on your elbow with your elbow and shoulder stacked in a straight line.
3. From here rise up the hip that is on the ground and maintain a good neutral spine and brace hard.
4. Hold this position for as long as possible without losing form. Rest and repeat as necessary.
5 Tips for a Perfect Kettlebell Swing -

The kettlebell, more commonly known in Russia as “Girya,” is one of the most misunderstood tools in fitness today. When used properly it is lethal for melting fat, building muscle, and rapid improvements in conditioning. Done incorrectly and it can result in injury. When using Kettlebells for fat loss, the first exercise to learn is “the Swing.” The swing is one of the best exercises for rapid fat loss and powerful development of the hips, and posterior chain (hamstrings, quads, and glutes). Here are the five most important cues for a perfect swing.


A kettlebell swing is not a squat with a front raise, it’s meant to be a hinge. A hinge is when you sit your hips back stretching your hamstrings. This loads up your hips and hamstrings to become like a bow ready to fire an arrow.

At the top of a kettlebell swing you want full hip extension, knees locked, feet rooted into the ground, core tight, and glutes squeezed. The lock is important for generating full explosive power at the top part of the swing.

It’s important to learn how to breathe properly when you swing for maximum fat loss results and conditioning. When extending your hips and coming swiftly to an upright position (the Lock), powerfully exhale, as if you were blowing out candles. During the swing, when hinging down, inhale and fill your midsection with air by breathing in through your nose. Learning to breathe during the swing takes a lot of practice, which leads into our most important point when learning to swing.

The swing is a lift and should be treated like one. Be sure to practice. Learning a proper kettlebell swing cannot be learned quickly. Be patient and keep practicing and improving.