How to Get Your Body to Burn Stored Fat

by | Feb 23, 2022 | Fat Loss, Training Advice

How do you get your body to burn stored fat? This is the million dollar question! And one that has fueled a huge industry ranging from magic pills to whole fitness programs, clubs and courses. My advice is to keep it simple. Here are my steps.

How much body fat do you have?

If you are very overweight and have a sedentary lifestyle you can lose a huge amount of body fat by cutting your caloric intake by around 30% and adding in some daily exercise. In most cases simply walking an extra 2-5km every day will make a huge difference. Losing body fat when you are obese is actually quite easy as your body does not want to carry around that much weight and will shed a lot of it pretty quickly.

Burn stored fat - Calipers
Burn stored fat - BMI

If you are already quite fit, active and just have some excess fat you cant seem to shift then knowing how much you have in terms of body fat percentage, your weight, strength and long term fitness goals become important markers. Your first step should be to record your weight, measurements, BMI and Body Fat %. You can do this using my free measure your progress form. You will need fat calipers, scale and tape measure. You can then set a date, take some pictures and email the information to yourself. Once you have some benchmark states you can track your progress to make sure what you are doing is working and inline with your overall fitness goals.

Don’t rely on cardio and calorie reduction

I am not saying cardio is bad, in fact I recommend it to my clients for the overall health benefits it can bring. It is however, not the best method to burn stored fat, if you just increase your cardio and reduce your calories the message you will send to your body will be “lose weight and reduce metabolism” the weight you will lose with likely be muscle as well as body fat – so if you lose 10kg of weight through cardio and a calorie reduction and 50% of that is muscle your overall body fat percentage with actually increase as a result. On top of that your metabolism will also likely decrease leaving you in a bad place. In summary you will just get a little smaller overall, need less food to maintain, and your energy levels will drop too, leaving you open to gaining more body fat.

Get strong first

Your first step should be to build more strength through functional weight training. This will send a very different message to your body “we need to get stronger” If you strength goes up then you will develop more lean muscle that requires more calories to maintain resulting in an overall increase in your metabolism. In other words you have just put a bigger engine in your body that requires more calories. Also if you are stronger you can train and push yourself harder. Even if you gain 10kg and 50% of that is body fat you overall body fat percentage will actually decrease! Once you are stronger and bigger needing more calories to maintain your size you are in a much better place to burn body fat. Even if you don’t reduce your calories the new lean muscle you have gained will likely burn stored fat as a result.

Burn Stored Fat - Build Strength

Focus on functional movements

There are several big functional movements that send the best strength building signal to your body these are: Deadlifts, Squats, Pull ups, Barbell Overhead Press, to perform these movements your whole body has to get stronger, this is not the case with isolation movements such as bicep curls, pec dec flys, leg extensions. Focus on these movements first. It is also important to give your body a new stimulus so if you have been training in the 10-12 rep range for months then your body has adapted and will not likely change much. Try running a 4 week strength phase making the following movements.
Burn stored fat - Pull Ups
Burn stored fat - Deadlift

Workout A

  • Squat 5 x 5
  • Pulls Ups (weighted if needed) 5 x 5
  • (Accessory work)

Workout B

  • Deadlift 5 x 5
  • Bench Press 5 x 5
  • (Accessory work)
The accessory work can include curls, rows, flys etc in the rep range of 6-10 . As long as you make the main focus your 5 x 5 work

In terms of frequency I would recommend 3 sessions per week run as:

Week 1: A B A | Week 2: B A B

You can run it as a four day split also

A B Rest Day A B

Then after 4 weeks with the new strength you have gained go for more reps and volume so work in the 3 x 10-12 rep range – then increase again after another 4 weeks to 12 – 15 – this will result in new muscle growth.

After your 12 week program change it up again with a new program.

Keep you calorie in take the same

Don’t reduce your calories during your 12 week program, your body will need calories to recover and build strength. You can reduce later on when your calorie maintenance level is higher and you’re in a better place to burn stored fat.

Another word on cardio

Doing cardio will burn more calories for sure but it will impact your recovery and strength building process so your best approach is just don’t eat the extra calories! So you wont need to use cardio to burn them off – simple!

Do it slowly

When you are ready to reduce your calories this should not be done before at least 12 weeks of weight training, do it slowly, losing body fat should be a long term game. So don’t suddenly reduce your calories drastically as you will lose muscle strength, energy etc. Go for a small reduction of around 10-15% and lose the fat over a number of months. Keep training hard and your muscle loss will be minimal. To turbocharge your fat loss you can add in some HIIT cardio at this point.
Burn Stored Fat Steady progress

Track your numbers

Make sure you are on track by taking regular measurements, we are all slightly different when it comes to burning stored body fat.

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