Exercising for Fat Loss vs. Weight Loss

Why is fat loss exercise the specific focus of this article? There is a difference between exercise to lose weight versus exercise to reduce fat. A sound fat loss reduction exercise program enhances muscle growth while reducing fat, whereas a weight loss program is simply about losing weight and often participants in such exercise programs also lose muscle in the process.

Fat Loss Exercise: Keep Off

The basis for exercise program design were the following principles:

  • The human body’s preferred fuel for energy at rest is fat
  • The human body responds well to exercise with short bursts that depletes its muscular glycogen stores. Such exercise causes a metabolic disturbance and continues to burn calories up to 38 hours after exercise and you know which energy source it being used the preferred fuel at rest fat!
  • Aerobic cardiovascular exercise of moderate intensity preferred fuel is fat, however the body’s response is to create more fat for fuel from dietary sources for the next time.
  • Low intensity cardiovascular exercise like walking preferred fuel is carbohydrates similar to that required for high, short-burst exercise.


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A Fat Loss Exercise Program Example

Here is an example and process of taking a 250 lb woman through a fat loss exercise program following a comprehensive assessment of her structure and functional movement skills.

  1. First phase of her exercise program, base conditioning is to develop and enhance flexibility/mobility, joint/core stability and requisite strength required to do the movement patterns for daily living (squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, twisting, bending, stepping up and walking, jogging and running). Exercise choices included floor exercises, Swiss ball exercises, TRX exercises, cable exercises and walking. Exercise session duration would be 20-45 minutes 3-4 times a week and sets of 40-50 seconds and short rest periods 30-90 seconds between sets or rest as needed. Program variables would include station to station training, super-setting and circuit training. Note she would be encouraged to take walks beginning with 15-30 minutes duration and increase duration as her conditioning improves. No running because she would not have the requisite hip, leg and core strength for running and it is typical to see an “average weight” women not having the requisite strength in these areas thus when they run consistently knee, back and lower leg pain is often the result.
  2. The following phases are built onto each other and the intensity increases using modalities of metabolic acceleration training and functional strength training. Formats of circuit training, density training, super sets, tri-sets with sets lasting from 30-50 seconds with short rest periods 30-90 seconds and low intensity days of walking or leisure pace cycling.
  3. We cannot emphasize more strongly that before embarking on any exercise program check with your physician and you must enhance/develop your flexibility/mobility, core and joint strength/stability as part of any exercise program or pain will be inevitable!


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Fat Loss Exercise Strategies

  • Corrective exercise and stretching/mobilization must be part of base conditioning to enhance joint/core strength and stability for more progressive exercise and prevents pain/injury
  • Metabolic acceleration training/functional strength training has been shown by research to be the most efficient exercise modality for fat loss, followed by anaerobic cardiovascular training, then aerobic interval training, steady state aerobic cardiovascular training.
  • Protocol for metabolic acceleration training can be 5-8 stations working for 30 seconds at each station and resting only when you have completed the desired number of stations for 30-90 seconds and repeat up to 5 times. Density or circuit functional strength training choose 5 -6 exercises including an explosive exercise and reps are 10-12 lasting 40-50 seconds do continuously for desired block of time 10-30 minutes(density training) or do the circuit(circuit strength training) and rest for 30-90 seconds and repeat as many as 4-5 times. This can be done 3-4 times a week with 2 metabolic acceleration training days and 2 functional strength training days.
  • Add walking to the program as a low intensity day for 30-60 minutes.

Body System Dysfunction

There are several body system dysfunctions that are resistant to long term fat loss or fat loss (in general), and some of these systems are as follows:

  • Inefficient/dysfunctional Gastro-intestinal tract
  • Dysfunctional detoxification systems(particularly liver/gall bladder. kidney and colon insufficiency
  • Neuro-transmitter imbalances
  • Adrenal exhaustion/Fatigue
  • Metabolic Syndrome/Thyroid insufficiency particularly Hypothyroidism
  • Hormonal imbalances

These imbalances are detected through Functional lab testing and questionnaires and once detected a protocol to correct them is recommended. Such a protocol would include targeted supplementation, nutrition modification, lifestyle modification and a Functional Detoxification.

Fat Loss Exercise: Barbell Lift

Putting these three pillars as the foundation of your long term fat loss program will enable success, along with your understanding of the process of change.