Fat Loss: The Be All, End All Formula – Part 3 of 4

If somehow you’ve found us just now, this won’t make much sense without having already invested your time into reading or perhaps even re-reading Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.


During the last installment I covered the first half of Detail 3: Cardiovascular Training in relation to fat loss. I left you hanging with the promise of a program style that works incredibly effective for fat loss.

It’s often said in the training world that the best program is the one you’re currently not doing. Simply because the body adapts over time and it’s wise to switch it up every 4-12 weeks (depending on your goals and level of experience).


I will place one big caveat on the following: just like every other training style, Elimination Circuits can run their course. Using them for 3-5 week periods seems best, beyond that I tell people go back to trying to grow muscle like a crazy person. If you didn’t achieve significant enough fat loss during the time you used the Elimination Circuit, yet again, the details of your formula haven’t been sorted out (likely food).


Detail #3(Adequate vs Appropriate – Excessive Cardiovascular Training) Cardiovascular Training – Part 2 of 2 – Elimination Circuit Training

Adrian - Cardio Elimination Circuit

This was my last “cardio” workout. It was horrible. I hated my life come the end of it. Yep, I do cartwheels (blame Dan John for telling me to get over my suckiness of them). The Crowe Flow: Squat is one of my favored mobility drills for opening up where I tend to be tight. And yes, I think the gym ring idiot is purely in there to be “fun.” Angled Barbell exercises such as THIS are killer for elimination circuits!

Look, if your heart rate is jumping back and forth between 120-180 beats per minute for 60 minutes straight…is that cardio? Regardless of what you’re doing to get there??

Exactly! So make it fun. I make it up as I go.

The rules of the Elimination Circuit are this:

  1. Choose 7-9 exercises
  2. If the goal is cardio I suggest making most of them heart rate based, the rest aesthetic or physio/corrective drills. You can’t just go balls-to-the-wall for 60 mins straight.
  3. Choose exercises you know you should be doing, some stuff you like doing, and throw in stuff you absolutely suck at for the sake of getting better at it.
  4. How to calculate reps: take the exercise of your choice, what rep range would you normally perform it in? Let’s say for DB lateral raises you normally do 15 reps. Now take those reps and multiply by 4 or 5 rounds (you’ll have to experiment there). That’s how many you’ll do in total over the whole workout. The goal is to mostly have all exercises completed by the 4-6 round mark. If you finish them in 3 the weight/intensity was too easy or reps too low. If it takes you 8 rounds, the weight/intensity was too high
  5. Simply perform as a traditional circuit, do the traditional amount of reps you can do with good form for exercise 1. Write down those reps. Move to exercise 2, perform and write down the reps. Continue until you’ve completed 1 round of each exercise. Then start back over. You’ll find on the first set of the circuit you’ll get a few more reps than normal, just like towards the end of the workout you’ll end up getting less than normal. It all works itself out if you’re ending exercises between 4-6 rounds. If finishing an exercise in 3 or less then it simply wasn’t hard enough, not enough load or not enough reps. If you’re not finishing until 6-10 sets, then it was too hard, too much load, or too many reps.
  6. There are no rules except you have to finish all the reps. Feeling too beat to do the next exercise but you could do the next on the list instead, go for it! Just don’t jump around too much or you’ll get loopy and behind on reps. Once all the reps are complete, that’s it; workout over. Ideally the workout doesn’t last longer than 60 minutes, in fact, 45 minutes is probably the ideal.

This style will allow for the least amount of rest and such an INSANE volume/training density during a workout without blowing the body into nervous system oblivion.

Group Class Cardio Elimination Circuit

Here’s an example of using and Elimination Circuit on a small group training setting (5 people). Same rules apply. Pick 7-9 movements, figure out the “typical” rep range you’d use on that movement, multiply by 4-5 rounds and then multiply by how many people are working together to accomplish those reps. In this style what you get is absolutely outstanding teamwork. Some people are better than others at exercise 3, where some are better at exercise 6; it allows each to work as a team on their strengths and weaknesses. Everyone hates the Crowe Plank so make them do it! The only goal: GET ‘ER DONE!

I prefer Elimination Circuits best for cardio but try them using strength movements too. A chest/back day could be done the same bouncing back and forth between 4 types of chest exercises and 4 back exercises. The only rule for a strength circuit there is that you do need to take enough rest (45-90 seconds if you feel the performance of a heavy set will suffer). If your form is going to be crap, take 15-30 seconds longer to sip some water then jump back in.

I want to revisit a piece from Part 1 of this series:

Of the 168 hours we are all allotted in a given week, I want every minute, every hour and every workout to count for something. Who wants to workout 4 hours a week, week in-week out, to look and feel exactly the same next year?”

So when you design or choose your workout programs, it’s about time. Spending more than 4 hours a week exercising can be a waste of time when it comes to fat loss. So telling someone that an hour on the treadmill 3x/week plus 4x/week doing 90 minute resistance training sessions just cost you over 6 hours of your life. I’d venture to say if you’re close to that and not seeing results it’s because, yet again, cardio is rarely the answer. It’s one of the details.

Implant this in your brain forever if fat loss is your goal:

High Amount of NEPA/NEAT > Muscle Training > Cardiovascular Training

Focusing on the above equation backwards (cardio, a little weights and the rest of your day spent sitting on your still overweight booty) is NOT EVER going to work. Especially if you can’t get the next two details sorted out.

Detail #4De-stressing Your Life + Adequate Quality Sleep

I was going to delve into research as to what the magical number of hours the human body requires to function (is it 6, or 7 or 8.258 to the third power) but here’s the thing: YOU’RE AN ADULT, figure it out. Most adults know that number for themselves. And good luck changing their mind.

The answer is probably 1 more hour than you’re currently getting if you’re tired all the time.

Most of the stuff I’ve read on sleep talks is not so much about how long one should be in bed sleeping but rather what is the quality of sleep you’re achieving (light vs. deep vs. REM sleep cycles)? What time of night are you going to bed (before midnight or after)? Are you a night owl or an early bird? Introvert or extrovert? What are the activities you are performing before sleep? What’s the quality of your place of sleep (meaning mattress, pillow, bedding, temperature of room, noise levels, electromagnetic fields from electronic devices, and how dark is your room)?

There is far more to experiment with the above parameters before one can so easily adjust the amount of time you’re sleeping.

If you really want to investigate something interesting about sleep look into polyphasic vs. monophasic sleep patterns. For a great many thousands of years (prior to the invention of electricity) humans may have slept differently to how they do today. My goal over the next couple years is to be able to schedule my day to allow biphasic sleeping patterns.

Here is my top 5 list of sleep fails guaranteed to throw a wrench into your fat loss plans:

  1. Sleeping schedules all over the map. Shift workers find it much more difficult to maintain lower body fat levels than people with a 9-5 job. It’s better you go to bed and rise at roughly the same times every night, including weekends. Perhaps moreso because sleep schedules all over the map means meal timing and food prep that likely looks the same.
  2. Too much TV or Candy Crush before bed. Let’s see, you want to go to sleep which requires darkness for your melatonin (the hormone that makes you drowsy so you can sleep) to fire properly and you’ve instead decided to blast your eyeballs with flashing, bright lights. Good one. A book would probably improve the quality of your life far more. But whatever your medium of choice to end your evening it’s probably wise it’s not too exciting. Don’t get me wrong, I do like my TV shows before bed too but never put a TV in the bedroom (pretty much asking for less sex aren’t you?) and watch some dry stuff last. I love me some Mysteries at the Museum before bed!
  3. Eating too heavy a meal before sleep. Starving before bed is not wise either but you should experiment to figure out what foods digest best in the last meals/snacks before bed. It should be obvious sugar of any sort is the worst choice because we are talking about fat loss after all. Almost as bad for ruining sleep quality before bed would be alcohol.
  4. When I was a teen 12 hours of sleep was “necessary” for me to function. No it’s not, you’re just bored with your life and haven’t set some goals that require you to get outta freaking bed and do something with your life. There are times my body tells me to F off for not sleeping enough the past nights of the week and I’ll let it sleep 10 hours but more than that is a waste of life and you’re more likely to be inactive after sleeping that long.
  5. Your bedroom atmosphere sucks. Too much noise. Too much crap on the floor for you to even get to your bed. Too many plugs and electronics next to your head. Poor quality mattress. You don’t know the thread count of your sheets cuz you bought cheap sh*t. Your pillows are 2 years old. And there’s too much street light coming in from your windows. May as well scatter some thumb tacks randomly throughout your bed sheets to make it even more interesting. Fix the problem: Google this: “make bedroom conducive sleep”

Enough of that rant. Let’s move on.

Let me ask you something…could you right now, take a pen and paper and write 15 small little joys in your life. Not people (though quality time with people can be part of it). Not your job. Not your beloved iPhone. 15 things you can do right now that would bring a smile to your face. What recharges you? What makes the daily routine and grind worth repeating endlessly? Seriously, take a pen and paper and write 15 things down that you love doing.

Now ask yourself: how often are you doing them? How’s that saying go? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

I’m a workaholic for sure (routinely pulling off 60-80 hour weeks) but the first thing I do when work is done as much as can be for the day is get right to my little joys. When I skip that too often I’m a miserable SOB. And most likely so are you. If you’re tired, miserable, hate your daily grind, can’t stand everyone around you because they’re irritating you more than usual; while a 3 week vacation to Bora Bora sounds awesome right now, perhaps we don’t need such an extreme. A happy body is one that loses weight more easily. If not simply because of the causal effect on motivation and ability to stick to the hard game plan (read: nutrition) that’s going to help you achieve those fat loss goals. Wanna know how simple this is to achieve? Take a timer, 15 minutes. No one, nothing, no phone texts or calls, nothing is allowed to disturb you for 15 minutes every single day and you do one or more of those things on the list you created. If you couldn’t even be bothered to create the list, therein lies the problem. You want without the will to work for it.

What I’m getting at with all of this is that if you want to expend energy, be it physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental energy, it is impossible to the degree that makes a real change in your life unless you recharge the battery often. Do you really think the human body is drastically different in energy needs to your cell phone? How often do you plug that battery in to recharge??

Two more things.

I kick myself in the proverbial pants on the regular for not having taken advantage of the years in my life where I was covered under an extended health care plan through my work place. My previous job I had hundreds of dollars in chiropractor, massage therapy, acupuncture and a whack of other services that were essentially free to me if I could have been bothered enough to take advantage of that. I’m going to kick your ass if you’re not taking advantage of that situation if you’re fortunate enough to have it. MAX that plan out!

For those of us not under such magical coverage, please treat yourself every 4-8 weeks. You take your car in for regular tune ups, correct? Because you know it helps it last longer and perform better. But not the same for your body?


Lastly, what if I said there was a very unique, personal way to achieve a deep state of relaxation, one that in my opinion cannot be beat for recharging the mind, body and spirit. What would that look like? First I ask you to invest 5 minutes of your life to explore these brilliant thoughts:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeqmKwsvM58 (language warning)

Get Your Float On

I suspect the floatation/isolation/sensory deprivation tank will be one of the greatest things I invest my time into during the course of my life.

Just try it once! Trust me on that. (Locally in the Greater Vancouver area, look up Cloud 9 Float Spas in Coquitlam. The couple’s tank was brilliant quality couple time). Otherwise try finding a floatation tank near you: http://floatationlocations.com/map/ or www.floatation.biz/floatfinder/


But what does this all have to do with fat loss?

I’m sure you’ve seen someone who’s lost quite an impressive amount of fat and simply looked ragged and aged from the process. How often do those people keep the weight off? Rarely.

Those who are in great shape, have the vitality we all desire and maintain healthy body weights tend to look vibrant, healthy, happy, and have found a balance between how much they put out and how well they recharge.


Okay, we’ve got just one more installment left next week. I’m going to attempt to cover the final detail: {Adequate but Appropriate Goal Based Nutrition} as well as neatly wrap this whole series up for you all.

Please understand that my goal here is not to portray myself as the be all, end all guru of anything but rather to give you avenues and ideas to explore to help you find the best way to manage and adjust the details within your fat loss formula.

The Formula: (Adequate NEPA/NEAT) + (Adequate + Appropriate Muscle Training) + (Adequate vs. Appropriate – Excessive Cardiovascular Training) + (De-stressing your life + Adequate Quality Sleep) + (Adequate but Appropriate Goal Based Nutrition) = FAT LOSS


BTW, you can now find me on:

Instagram @adriancroweathletictraining

Facebook page at Adrian Crowe Athletic Training “The Crowe’s Nest”

YouTube www.youtube.com/acathletictraining

or email me directly at adrian@adriancrowe.com

Fat Loss: The Be All, End All Formula – Part 2 of 4

Alright, let’s jump to it, shall we. In Part 1 I made it clear: MOVE, a lot; walk, pick stuff up, clean your car, get outta your chair, take the stairs, get your step count up to 10,000 per day. The more you move the less space you’ll take up on the planet.

Let’s go back to “the formula”:

(Adequate NEPA/NEAT) + (Adequate + Appropriate Muscle Training) + (Adequate vs Appropriate – Excessive Cardiovascular Training) + (De-stressing your life + Adequate Quality Sleep) + (Adequate but Appropriate Goal Based Nutrition) = FAT LOSS

Detail #2: (Adequate + Appropriate) Muscle Training

I’d like to tell you this is not going to be a complicated subject to cover. Here’s the thing: there are at least 100 different muscle training (including resistance and calisthenics) methods that can all produce the same results.

So which one is best for fat loss?

Well, the simple answer is: the one that you do consistently and is progressive (in factors such as intensity, density, strength increases and ability to recover) over time.

It would be bloody amazing to see Christian Thibaudeau, Scott Abel, Charles Poliquin, Craig Ballentyne, Hits Richards, Alwyn Cosgrove, Nick Tumminello, Dan John, Pauline Nordin, and Ben Pakulski in a 12’ x 12’ room and have them battle it out over what they believe to be the greatest fat loss training method.

I mean, seriously, if we could make this happen pay-per-view style half the industry would watch it go down!

You know what would happen…they’d agree to disagree and then they’d come up with a list of common principles across all the various methods that will work when applied with serious grit.

  1. Workout intensity: if 10 is running from a bear who has just finished eating your best friend and you’re next, anywhere less than a 6 is useless. Get off the friggin bench press and do more than a set every 3 minutes.
  2. The more muscles recruited during an exercise, the better for fat loss. Arguing that barbell cleans is not better than barbell biceps curls for fat loss would be a fool’s errand. This also doesn’t mean barbells rule. Unilateral, dumbbell and contra/ipsilateral exercises can be incredibly demanding. While I’m no Crossfit dude, look at their exercise selections: pretty much all compound (multi-joint) all the time!
  3. Workout density beats workout frequency any day! Should we workout every day? Maybe. But for fat loss, more often than not I’d say NO! Every second day is more than enough. What I mean by density is the amount of work you get done in the time you allot into your training. Spending 1 hour in a gym completing only 8 sets of 10 reps of squats will likely not produce the fat loss effect you desire. At least superset them with another exercise such as stability ball hamstring curls.
  4. Working the same muscle groups more than once a week is paramount. Dump the body part splits. The fact that Monday is still international chest day in most gyms is proof we’re not making progress in teaching people how best to lose fat. My first move with new clients is to get them off body part splits and into either upper/lower splits or at least upper push/upper pull/lower body splits or full body workouts.
  5. Scott Abel said it best:
    1. Form first, speed and/or range of motion usually second, load third (or sometimes second), complexity (and all of its factors) added when looking to increase/decrease intensity. Meaning, when performing the squat maybe load isn’t always the best option for increasing the intensity. Would squatting lower make it more difficult? Of course! Would slowing the eccentric and blasting up from the hole increase the intensity? Of course! Would narrowing the stance or changing parameters such as high bar vs low bar when you’re used to the opposite make a difference in difficulty? Most likely! So is progression of exercise all that difficult to always attain?  {{Don’t get me wrong, load is still important but there is no straight line from newb to a 500lb squat. Learn to play with the various factors of intensity and determine which is appropriate for that exercise, that moment, of that day.}}Form Is ShitEXACTLY! If 10 more pounds on the bar makes your form collapse, puts you at greater risk of injury and serves little purpose other than stroking your ego…you’re doing it wrong.
  6. Leaving wiggle room for the ability to recover seems to be the greatest mistake people first make when using muscle training as a method of fat loss. If you go into the gym, do a circuit of reverse lunges, push ups, pull ups, burpees, dumbbell clean and press, kettlebell swings and bike sprints and the next day you wake up so stiff you can’t put your shoes on; day 2 you’re walking like an elephant had its way with you and on day 3 you are calling your boss claiming you’re is such dire straights that getting outta bed is impossible and therefore you won’t be at work until next Tuesday – YOU WENT TOO HARD! Give yourself time to get up to gym-superstar status. The best workouts are the ones that at the moment you could hear yourself breathing aloud most of the time (oxygen debt) and that you find takes the muscles to significant in-set fatigue (not failure or form degradation) (force decrement). Those two factors along with progression in exercise (utilizing the factors played on in #5 above) are the keys I look for in session to know my clients are going to have a fat loss effect from their workout. But they should be recovered by day 3 so we can get back in the lab and cook up the next batch of sweaty t-shirts.

Lastly, you have to understand I am not poo-poo’ing strength training. I love picking stuff up and putting it down as much as the next guy. But I have to ask: if I could snap my fingers and give you 15lbs of fat loss or wiggle my nose and give you 10lbs of fresh new muscle, which would you take first? If you answered fat loss: go back and read points 1-6 and create a game plan for yourself.

One important factor to consider: Should you aim to Annihilate or Stimulate the muscles during training? I tend to fit my clients into one of two categories based on how their body responds to training. Me, I’m stimulation all the way.

If I get in the gym and tear it up, perform 3 dozen sets of 12-15 reps with very little rest by the 4th day I just hate my life. By the 3rd week my immune system is so destroyed I’m walking around with a Hazmat suit and still catching every virus floating around. AND if done for more than 5-6 weeks I start losing muscle and getting softer. But my buddy, he does this same workout routine: jacked, ripped, has insane energy and his ego at least doubles.

BUT, the inverse, say I do stimulation training such as Thibaudeau’s HP Mass (my favorite program) where it calls for you to train nearly every day, less than 45 minute workouts hitting ~8 sets x 3 reps overhead press, bench and dips 3 x/week, doing ~10 sets x 3 reps squats & deadlifts 3x/week and a bunch of accessory work (I opted for stupid things like parking lot lunges) well, I end up super lean but the scale keeps going up, my energy is unbearably high, and I can’t wait to get back in the gym. On top of that, I’m rarely sore but I’ve set all my personal records during this programming. Same buddy tries to keep up and he’s texting me choice 4 letter words daily and by the end of week one he’s skipping every second workout and by week 3 has completely given up.

Here’s the sort of results I see in 3-4 week periods with my clients, who like myself are stimulation-centric:

HP Mass Results - 3 weeks

It’s a lengthy process to figure out which of the two: Annihilation or Stimulation based training methods works best for YOUR body but when you do stick with it 80% of your year. Personally, I try to take 2 x 6 week periods in my year and try and brutalize myself with annihilation style training. It’s always worth it but I’m happy when it’s over. Most new clients I start them with more stimulation based training (less sets, lower reps, low rest period, groups of no more than 3 exercises) and slowly move them towards annihilation training (more sets, more reps, slower eccentric phases, sometimes taking the muscles to failure, nervous system challenges) and when they start calling to miss sessions or start looking ragged then I scale back towards stimulation. Somewhere in that scale is your happy place for both fat loss and muscle gain.

Detail #3(Adequate vs Appropriate – Excessive Cardiovascular Training) Cardiovascular Training – Part 1 of 2

Okay, this one is far more simple and I’ll get it over with quickly like most cardio should be – over with quickly. I’m not gonna lie. I HATE cardio. So I tend to get creative with ways of doing it. Look, if you like running, run. If you love watching tv while blasting away on the elliptical for 3 hours thinking it’ll make you skinny, I guess, sure, have fun.

But is it effective?

On the short term, small increases in cardio can have major effects on your body composition. Take a meathead and put him 3x/week on a stair climber for 30 mins for 4 weeks and he’ll drop serious fat. Make him do that forever and he’s not going to like what happens to his body.

The body adapts to everything. So, in my opinion use high volumes of cardio sparingly so they are effective when you do them. Anyone know of someone who runs/jogs >40 miles/week? I train quite a few of them. Are they ripped to the bone? Have they ever been? Not once. Not ever. In fact I can tell inside of one week when they’ve dropped their running volume as the body responds so poorly and starts packing on body fat. Another common theme: they rarely have significant muscle mass. Might be fit as hell but it’s like the façade of the muscle magazines, the cover models of runner’s magazines…no one really looks like that except a small handful of the “sport.”

It’s a terrible cycle to get into. I am dead set against running as a form of fat loss. It can work for some, if you love running. It won’t for most. In fact, it may backfire.

Should we be doing cardio? Do I even have to ask that? Your heart is a pretty important muscle, yes? Your lungs are pretty important too? Are both of those more important than the size of your delts? Yea, I think so. No one dies of tricep attacks. But nearly half of all men die of heart attacks.

So what’s effective for fat loss: the cardio you’re willing to do that gives a nice little bump in your heart rate for a relatively short period of time and that you don’t let your body adapt to overly well over time.

I laid out 15 examples here: https://adriancrowe.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/15-different-cardio-styles/

Pick 1 from each category and perform a total of 2-3 cardio sessions/week. But don’t overdo it. Save the 4-6 week cardio volume increases for the two times a year it counts. Summer and well, post-December holidays.

Should you do cardio before or after weights? Ideally, they’d be 6-8 hours apart. But the debate lives on, I believe with most of the evidence pointing to doing cardio after when you’re looking for fat loss. Suppversity has covered this subject best HERE, HERE and HERE.

In my opinion the most effective forms of cardio are: Max-OT style HIIT (check the blog link of 15 different cardio styles, this one is #2), Hill Sprints or Sled Training (so basically I’m always favoring High Intensity Interval Training if you haven’t noticed):

Sorinex Root Hog Sled

I think Rob King has done the best job of advocating the benefits of sled training recently HERE and HERE. If your gym doesn’t have a sled, Rob has some great suggestions HERE or you can pick up a Spud Carpet Sled (works on rubber too) and be the envy of you gym. Personally, I feel the Sorinex Root Hog sled is top in market. Works excellent for muscle building! I may marry mine.

Now, aside from performing relatively short bursts (15-30 mins) of cardio a few times a week, is it possible to program your weight training to be highly effective for fat loss? Could I take the 6 principles in the muscle training category and apply them into one neat little package?

The answer is yes, and it has been my most effective fat loss training template ever! I’ve tested it over literally hundreds of trainees, used on myself countless time, used as a template for our conditioning style classes and works tremendously well for training partners & spouses even if you are good at different stuff (eg. She loves lunges, hates push ups; you love push ups but hate lunges).


I call it the Elimination Circuit. But let me save that for Cardio – Part 2 in the next installment of this series. Any further questions on the details above or if you have training related questions in terms of fat loss feel free to post a comment below.



BTW, you can now find me on:

Instagram @adriancroweathletictraining

Facebook page at Adrian Crowe Athletic Training “The Crowe’s Nest”

YouTube www.youtube.com/acathletictraining

or email me directly at adrian@adriancrowe.com

Fat Loss: The Be All, End All Formula – Part 1/4

You Are Not Fat, You Have Fat

Stop! Read the picture’s words again, and then a few more times.

Let it sink in. It covers everything!

The Formula: (Adequate NEPA/NEAT) + (Adequate + Appropriate Muscle Training) + (Adequate vs Appropriate – Excessive Cardiovascular Training) + (De-stressing your life + Adequate Quality Sleep) + (Adequate but Appropriate Goal Based Nutrition) = FAT LOSS

Pretty simple, right?

I’m a big “break it down to the basics” sorta dude. We could talk about how your lower cross syndrome is affecting your quadratus lumborum on the left side and how it’s hyperactive in relation to your hip flexor strength on the right side and therefore you’ll need to purchase at least a 50 session package of personal training sessions up front so I can “fix” you and hopefully one day you’ll be able to reach your fat loss goals….

OR we could chat as friends and I can give you some info to chew (and hopefully act) on. The truth, my friend, is that it’s all about the details!

This 4-part blog series is aimed at two people:

First) The fitness nut, possible personal trainer extraordinaire who already knows where I’m going and what I’m going to say and mostly this is a pow-wow for us to know others in the world go through the same cyclic conversations we do. Easy: share the article if you feel the advice is worthy.

Second) The general population who for a lack of better words quite simply does not get it! (I could cite here: women can’t get manly huge muscles by lifting weights {I mean seriously, can you even do a push up? So how likely are you to get all she-hulk picking up non-pink dumbbells?}, you can’t spot reduce, you can’t flex fat you have to burn it, you can’t starve yourself into a 6 pack, a thirty-day squat challenge is barely going to a damn thing for your derriere, running for fat loss sucks but it’s most guys starting point…)

But I’m not here to pick on you, hell most of the fitness nuts don’t get it either! I will say this: it IS your fault for some reasons and NOT your fault for others when it comes to your body composition (fat vs lean mass) and your physical fitness. For many it’s a lack of knowledge. For others it’s just the lazy gene expressing itself!

Look, I chose this profession. Mostly it evolved out of a passion for the information and the art in applying it. Add that to decent communication skills and a superstar typing speed and here I am 7 years and 7000+ personal training sessions later. You could do that too! You could read every book, every internet article, test every theory on yourself and then on your friends and family, you could take some post-secondary education, you could fall asleep at your desk getting lost in the YouTube world, you could buy every great coach’s DVD or e-book product I own and digest that information OR you could pay us professionals to give you the abridged need-to-know details on how to win the fat loss battle of the bulge.

Most people who walk in my gym’s door blatantly admit they simply don’t do enough activity, eat well enough, work their muscles or their heart enough, nor take some time to de-stress, let alone get a decent night’s sleep. But some do. Some put in hours upon hours in the kitchen, being “healthy and active” and exercising regularly at the gym…but don’t get the results they’re seeking. So why?

Go back to the picture at the top, reread it a couple more times and understand:

If you’re not losing fat at the pace you desire (and feel you’re working for) then the balance of the details in the equation is simply incorrect for you.

Detail #1 (Perhaps the most important of all): NEPA & NEAT


Non-Exercise Physical Activity (NEPA) and its accompanying Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) are likely the single greatest factors as to the size you take up on the planet. The more you move, the less you’ll likely weigh. You sit a lot and oh boy are you quickly heading the other way.


Let’s take Jane, she’s a senior executive for a busy accounting company. She gets up in the morning, eats a small breakfast, hops in her car and commutes for 45 minutes to work where she’s at her desk answering 50 phone calls, at least 100 emails and having her co-workers interrupt her busy day quite frequently. She is so busy she rarely gets to enjoy lunch, instead she slams it at her desk. When her day is done 9 hours later she quickly hops in her car, heads home, helps cook dinner and then exhausted plops on her couch to watch her favorite TV shows, woken up by her hubby telling her it’s time to crawl into bed. Repeat, repeat, repeat.


Let’s look at Sarah, a stay at home mom with a 3-year-old boy, Bobby and a 1-year-old girl, Victoria. She’s up at the crack of whatever unholy hour Victoria wakes her, usually too early in her opinion. She’s rushing up and down the stairs to make breakfast, help hubby get out the door to work, then driving the little Bobby to day care to finally come home clean up the toys scattered everywhere, wash a few loads of laundry, talk to her crazy mother in-law on the phone for an hour as she’s got poor Victoria bouncing away and glued in her other arm. Before you know it, it’s time to pick up Bobby from day care but not before a quick stop to the grocery store where she has to lug the baby carry around, come home feed Bobby a snack, put the rest of the groceries away, get dinner ready for the evening, do some more laundry, and if she’s lucky she’ll get a 45 minute break from the kids once they go to bed, which was an ordeal itself. But don’t worry, it’s looking like a good night where she’ll get about 5 hours sleep!! Whoohoo!!


Tell me what these two women have in common? They’re both busy, they could both be any age (20-45), they both don’t get enough sleep, they both have a lot of stress, they both most likely do not have time for prepping high quality and frequent meals, they both have very little time for themselves and are probably both so bloody exhausted come that time that the idea of exercise would send them onto the floor laughing at your suggestion.



                 which one is likely thinner?


Jane wakes up and is in short order sitting 45 mins in her car where she ends up sitting at a desk all day, then back to sitting in her car 45 mins to get back home, does maybe an hour of shuffling about the house before sitting on the couch and finally sleeping in her bed. This gal doesn’t move. It’s sit, sit and sit. And yet she’s exhausted all the time.


Now Sarah, holy S*&%balls, does she ever get to sit? Even when she does she’s likely fidgeting with something or holding a baby. She’s got a reason to be exhausted. Hell, it was exhausting typing up her day (so I have big time respect for the stay at home moms)!


The truth is that the above question shouldn’t have to be answered. Sarah wins hands downs and should be thinner because of the insane amount of moving she does. And 8/10 times this will be the case when comparing apples to apples.


The other 20% of the time the variance will be because of other details (workouts, food, stress and sleep levels).


Since you’re going to watch a TV show at some point anyway, I’ll be so bold as to say take an hour of your life and watch this one with your spouse (and later make everyone you know watch it).  This fantastic documentary drastically changed how I approach helping my clients achieve their goals and has drastically reduced my exercise (in a gym) prescriptions.


BBC’s The Truth About Exercise: http://vimeo.com/51836895

(35:00 mark of video they talk about how high NEPA/NEAT makes a difference but seriously do yourself a huge favor and watch the whole thing, even if you know it all)


So when someone asks me if they should go from 2 exercise sessions a week to 4, while I encourage your efforts and will never tell you that’s not a great idea, I will always first enquire…but how many steps do you take in a day? Don’t know? It’s time to find out!


Buy a pedometer (they’re $10 for a cheap and good one) and wear it for 2 work days and 1 off day. Take the total and divide by three (days). That’s your average. If it’s below 7500 steps GET MOVING!! If the average is over 10,000 then likely NEPA is not the problem, one of the other details of the formula is.

22k Pedometer Step Count


This is one of my high work days (low is ~12K, best ever was 28K)


In terms of activity’s effectiveness on fat loss it’s best to look at this:

High Amount of NEPA/NEAT > Muscle Training > Cardiovascular Training.


Quite plainly, cardio sucks and should never be your first go to if you really want to have your time and effort equate to results.


What can you do to boost your pedometer count, get your NEPA way up and get NEAT working for you?? Anything. Park at the back of the grocery store’s parking lot. And carry baskets instead of using a cart. Forget how to operate an elevator for a week.  Clean the garage you said you were going to last fall. Paint the bedroom, that color is sooo 1990’s. Get out of your chair every two hours if you sit for a living. I mean really, if you can sit for longer than two hours you’re not drinking enough liquids to force you to the bathroom which is likely another problem to solve. And while you’re up, stretch your hamstrings, for they’re likely tight and a possible culprit to your low back pain and on your way back take a second to fix your posture! Limit your TV time to <90 mins a day (here are some scary stats for you: http://www.statisticbrain.com/television-watching-statistics). Remember: sexercise is exercise! Pretty please read this blog and really take it on for it may be the best advice you ever receive!

One last question: when was the last time you remember gazing upon the Big Dipper? Might wanna go check if it’s still up there!


The point is: Get off your ass! Often! For longer periods of time! Repeat! Period!


In the next installment I’ll explain muscle training (stimulation vs annihilation, free weights vs machines, how to program a great workout, etc) versus cardiovascular training (different types, which is “best” and when too much can back fire your results). I’ll help you figure out how both are important details within the formula and how best to make them work for the time you’re willing to commit to them. Because that is the point, no?


Of the 168 hours we are all allotted in a given week, I want every minute, every hour and every workout to count for something. Who wants to workout 4 hours a week, week in-week out, to look and feel exactly the same next year?



BTW, you can now find me on:

Instagram @adriancroweathletictraining

Facebook page at Adrian Crowe Athletic Training “The Crowe’s Nest”

YouTube www.youtube.com/acathletictraining

or email me directly at adrian@adriancrowe.com