How should you be working out if you want to burn fat as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible? Is it cardio, resistance training, HIIT or any of the other systems out there?
In this article you’ll discover the workout method Steve Holman (Iron Man Editor in Chief and co-creator of Old School New Body) is using to maintain his amazing physique well into his fifties. It’s also the method his wife Becky used to go from being an overweight forty year old to having the kind of toned body – at over fifty – most people 20 years younger could only dream of.
What is this method?
It’s a weight training system that uses moderate-weight, high-fatigue training with short rests between sets. Steve calls it the F4X or ‘Focus 4’ method. F4X has a bit of a HIIT (high intensity interval training) feel to it… but it’s slightly different.
Here’s how it works:
- Pick a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but instead of doing 15 you only do 10
- After those 10 reps you take a 30 second rest
- Repeat this for four sets
- On the fourth set you go to failure. If you get more than 10 reps on this last set you should increase your weight for that exercise during your next workout.
- If you want to burn even more calories you can pace during the 30 second rests between sets
Now you’re probably thinking: this all sounds like regular interval training. So what is it that makes the F4X training method special?
The secret ingredient:
The key to supercharging your fat loss and keeping your metablism revved up long after you’ve finished your workout is…
1-second positives and 3-second negatives
What does that mean?
Say, for example, you’re doing a bench press. A 1-second positive means you would press the weight up in one second. Letting the weight back down (the negative) would take three seconds.
It’s this slow lowering that will keep your metabolism stoked long after your workout. This rep speed will give your muscles 40 seconds of tension time on every set, which is an ideal TUT or ‘time under tension’.
Want to increase the fat burning potential of your workout even further? Try doing the last set of each exercises in what Steve calls the X-centric style. Instead of doing three-second negatives try doing 8 reps with six-second negatives. You may find you have to reduce the weight a little, but it will definitely be worth it.
What makes this method such an effective way to burn fat?
Besides the energy you expend during the workout, there’s also the metabolic boost that comes from this type of training. You’re essentially causing small micro tears in your muscle fibers (myofibrillar trauma). The effect is boosted by doing slower, controlled negative strokes. This causes your body to expend extra energy during recovery. This revs up your metabolism, even long after you’ve left the gym.
Secondly, this kind of workout has a spiking effect on your growth hormone (GH) production. GH is renowned as an anti-aging hormone. It boosts your ability to build lean muscle and burn fat more effectively.
Does this mean you’ll never have to do cardio again? No, not quite – says Steve – but if you train with weights correctly, you won’t need to visit that boring treadmill quite as often to keep your abs sharp.
Steve and his wife Becky are the living proof of this. They are both in their 50’s and still look better than most people 20 years younger.
It’s true that the fastest way to lose belly fat is by changing your diet. However, if you are trying to lose fat by maintaining a caloric deficit (eating less calories than you burn every day) resistance training is the only way to preserve your lean muscle mass.
Great for older people
The moderate weight and the slow, controlled way the exercises are performed minimize joint stress while relying on high muscle fatigue for intensity. This makes them perfect for older people who are looking for a safe and effective way to get in shape.
This doesn’t mean this type of workout isn’t effective for younger people. The F4X exercises work great for people of all ages. Steve . According to Steve Holman, who has been consistently working out for well over 30 years, the results from the F4X method were the fastest and most staggering he has ever seen.
I’ve been using the principles of the F4X protocol in my workouts for a while now. The results have been great. I love this moderate weight, high muscle fatigue way of training. It has made my workouts shorter and much more effective. If you are interested in this method you can read about my experiences with it in my Old School New Body review.