What I learned about exercise and weight loss recently.

Hey there,

I just got back from teaching up in Portland this past weekend and I started to talk about a presentation I attended in January about exercise and weight loss.  It sparked so much interest that I decided to write a blog about it and share the resources I have so you can investigate for yourself.

On January 31, 2015, I attended a one day Perform Better conference at the LA Convention Center (for more info about these amazing seminars, visit  I was excited to see the presenters there and learn from them.  I loved them all.  Notably, Todd Durkin is amazing and was super motivating in discussing how he has become so successful and sharing some of his stories about what it takes.  He’s awesome and I really recommend you attending anything he presents, because he’s well spoken, honest and has a wealth of knowledge.

But I really want to focus this blog about another presenter that I saw for the first time, although I’ve heard about him for a while:  Alwyn Cosgrove.  He was amazing, captivating, super well researched, organized and funny.  One of the best presentations I’ve ever attended.  His presentation was on Metabolic Resistance Training and how this type of training blows traditional aerobic fat loss exercise programs out of the water.  He presented study after study after study about the failures of traditional exercise programs in producing fat loss.  It was really astounding to see the number of studies over the years that show the same thing.  The addition of traditional “aerobic exercise” like running or spinning alone does not increase fat loss.  In 400+ studies comparing diet to diet plus aerobic exercise, the addition of aerobic exercise (45-60 minutes of exercise 4-6 times per week at various percentages of max heart rate), had “no effect” over dieting alone.  None!  I was crushed, frustrated, and frankly, pretty angry because every certification program for group fitness instructors and personal trainers tells you to recommend aerobic exercise to clients who wish to lose weight.  Great!  Now what?

For more information and about this amazing guy, Alwyn Cosgrove, who’s changed the way I train, visit his website at

Well, it turns out that exercise CAN have an effect on weight loss, but not traditional aerobic exercise.  After presenting some great research to support his hypothesis (see references at the end of this post), here is what Mr. Cosgrove shared.
The following is quoted from Alwyn Cosgrove’s lecture and his awesome book (see references at the end of this post):

The Hierarchy of Fat Loss…

  1. Correct Nutrition
  2. See Number 1  (I told you he was funny too – right?)
  3. Activities that burn calories, maintain/promote muscle mass and elevate metabolism
  4. Activities that burn calories but don’t necessarily maintain muscle or elevate metabolism

And drum roll please……….
The Hierarchy of Fat Loss Training (2014)

  1. Metabolic Resistance Training
  2. High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training (Metabolic Zone Training)
  3. High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training
  4. Low Intensity Aerobic Training
  • If I have only 3-4 hours per week – only use #1
  • If I have 4-6 hours – use #1 and #2
  • If I have 6-8 hours available – add #3
  • If I have more than that available – add #4

**Please keep in mind that these training recommendations are for FAT LOSS!  I’m not talking about any other benefits of aerobic training or strength training or interval training.  This blog is about the most efficient training program for fat loss.  

The hypothesis Alwyn puts forth is that due to the post training effects of Metabolic Resistance Training (basically, the Afterburn Effect) the loss of subcutaneous fat is up to 9 times greater than that of an aerobic training program.  That’s huge!  The exact mechanisms are not yet fully understood, but the results are consistent: Combined with a reduced refined carb diet, adding 4 Metabolic Resistance Training sessions per week, can easily result in 1-3 lbs of fat loss per week.

So, what IS Metabolic Resistance Training?
“Work every muscle group hard, frequently, and with an intensity that creates a massive ‘metabolic disturbance’ or ‘afterburn’ that leaves the metabolism elevated for several hours post-workout.” Alwyn Cosgrove.

From Mr. Cosgrove’s book:
It can include any of the following:

  • Simple weight training with the goal of metabolic demand as opposed to pure strength or muscle gains.  (Think, working to fatigue for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Sled Dragging
  • etc.

The suggested program for maximum results (minimum of 2-3 lbs of fat loss per week)

  • 6-8 full body exercises in superset, tri-set, or circuit fashion performed 3-4 times per week
  • Interval cardio sessions: 2-3 per week.
  • Reduced refined-carbohydrate diet.


So there you have it – You of course need to focus on your diet, but adding Metabolic Resistance Training to your program is the most effective and efficient way to lose subcutaneous fat.  I hope you enjoyed this blog and I hope you check out these resources below.  They are just a few of the ones I thought you’d benefit from.  Til next time…


  1. The Results Fitness Ultimate Fat Loss Programming and Coaching System Manual by Alwyn & Rachel Cosgrove:
    his manual is awesome for anyone who trains clients that are interested in fat loss (so most of our clients).  It provides a step by step approach and is easy to read and understand.  It has great research to back up the program, as well as, great coaching tips.  I highly recommend it for all trainers.
  2. Training Strategies for Fat Loss Clients (Lecture with Alwyn Cosgrove) DVD
    Seeing Alwyn Cosgrove in person is awesome (so definitely go if you get the chance), but at the very least get his DVD so that you can see the passion this guy has for what he does – and he’s really funny – a bit challenging to understand at times, with that crazy accent, but worth the effort.
  3. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism
  4. Evidence Based Exercise – Clinical benefits of high intensity interval training
    Evidence based exercise – clinical benefits of high intensity interval training.  2012 Dec;41(12):960-2.  Shiraev T, Barclay G.




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