Female Athletic Training (Part 2)

An interview with John Paul Catanzaro

How to Lose Fat Efficiently: Part 2 of 3

grrlAthlete.com: What applications are there for training efficient exercises in fat loss programs? What would you use in these programs?

John Paul: Of course, there are many ways to skin a cat - I'll give you two very diverse examples (see Issue #35 for JP’s first example).

b) The next program incorporates a modified complex from Istvan Javorek, "The Bear" popularized by John Davies as well as a mini Stuart McGill circuit at the end.

I am currently using this routine on a 61 year young female client with very good results. She trains three days a week (Mon, Wed & Fri).

Circuit 1 - 3 sets x 6 reps (horizontal sequence)
1. Reverse Curl
2. Upright Row
3. Military Press
4. Back Squat
5. Press Behind The Neck
6. Good Morning
7. Push Press
8. Front Squat
9. Romanian Deadlift
10. Bent-Over Row

Circuit 2 - 3-4 sets x 5 reps (vertical sequence)
1. Power Clean
2. Front Squat
3. Push Press
4. Back Squat
5. Push Press

Circuit 3 - 1-2 sets x 10-12 reps with 5-10 second isometrics (vertical sequence)
1. Side Bridge
2. Front Plank
3. Side Bridge
4. Front Plank

The tempo is fast on the first two circuits and slow on the third yet always under control. The rest interval between sets involves a very sophisticated mathematical equation. Here it goes:

RI = (Respiration Rate + Training Load + Facial Expressions + Performance + Fatigue + Mood) x Trainee / (Judgment Call + Mood) x Trainer

In other words, once the client catches her breath and I feel she's ready to go, it's time!

And just to clarify one aspect of the routine, the horizontal sequence of the first circuit means that you perform 6 reps of reverse curls then without stopping do 6 reps of upright rows and so on. Vertical sequence means that you move directly from one exercise to the next without stopping until all exercises are complete and then repeat that process for the desired number of repetitions.

Literally and figuratively speaking, true fat loss is no walk in the park! The training efficient exercises that I listed above will wipe you out. Although fatigue may have negative connotations, it is part and parcel with fat loss. If it seems comfortable to get fat, it won't be to lose it!

Without sounding like a politician, the bottom line for fat loss is that many approaches can be used effectively. Sometimes I use high reps (around 15-20 reps primarily for beginners) and sometimes low reps (no more than 6 reps for advanced trainees) ... sometimes the rest interval is high; sometimes low ... sometimes the movements are fast; sometimes slow - it all depends on the individual and their situation. Furthermore, proper nutrition, supplementation, energy system work (aka "cardio"), and lifestyle factors are key to success in this area.

GA: What are some efficient abdominal and core exercises?

JP: I've mentioned this in the past, but let's go through it again. If you want to build a serious set of abdominals, routinely perform the following exercises and their variations: squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, and standing presses. These multi-joint movements require a strong contribution from the abdominals to stabilize the core, particularly when heavy loads are used.

It is not uncommon to hear clients complain of abdominal soreness a day or two after performing multiple sets with a decent weight of the chin-up or standing military press exercise - the ab prestretch will tap into fibers you never thought existed! And remember, your abdominals act as a natural girdle, or weight belt if you will, when performing all exercises, particularly squats and deadlifts. These muscles act as a bridge between your upper and lower body and are heavily recruited as stabilizers.

Sure, isolation exercises like pullovers, curls, and even triceps pressdowns also require a good degree of core stability; however, the loads used are relatively low compared to the big 4 mentioned above. In fact, according to Siff & Verkhoshansky, isolation becomes virtually impossible if large loads are used, and in many cases, the tension developed in the stabilizers will equal or even exceed that of the prime movers! So, you see, the abdominals can be trained quite effectively as stabilizers - the physiques of top Olympic weightlifters will attest to that.

Also, keep in mind that the core (or central region of the body sometimes referred to as the muscular "corset") consists of more than just the abdominals. The core is comprised of over two dozen muscles (29 to be exact according to Michael Wood) that involve hip and trunk flexion, extension, lateral flexion, rotation and stabilization. Therefore, efficient routines attack the core in a three-dimensional manner through various planes and motions.

To effectively train the core, some strength coaches believe the lunge is the best exercise, others swear by the woodchop, and yet others insist that med ball work or even strongman exercises are necessary. Who's right? Well, they all are - there is no right or wrong in this case. If there is one constant in the success of a strength training program, it's variety. Variations of the above-mentioned exercises will lead to a solid, "functional" core.

Next week: Part 3 – Efficient & effective exercises for female athletes.

About The Author

John Paul Catanzaro is a CSEP Certified Exercise Physiologist with a Specialized Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and Health Science. He owns and operates a private facility in Richmond Hill, Ontario providing training and nutritional consulting services. John Paul has authored two books, The Elite Trainer (2011) and Mass Explosion (2013), and has released two DVDs, Stretching for Strengthening (2003) and Warm-Up to Strength Training (2005), which have sold copies worldwide, been featured in several magazines, and have been endorsed by many leading experts. In 2013, John Paul released two new webinars, Strength Training Parameters and Program Design and Body Composition Strategies, providing the latest cutting-edge information to fitness professionals. For additional information, visit his website at www.CatanzaroGroup.com or call 905-780-9908.

[This article originally appeared in grrlAthlete.com Newsletter Issue 36.]