Buck conventional wisdom about burning fat in the gym.  Lift heavy, get lean, get abs.

Ask 100 people how to burn fat in the gym and you’ll hear the same two answers – lots of cardio and do a lot of reps with light weight. 

Like the Ripped Strength post, I am determined to find different avenues to keep my hard earned strength while getting abs.  I’m almost there.

For my first bodybuilding competition that I was supposed to do, right before my disc herniated, I was on the lots of cardio and lots of reps with light weight train. 


Abs with a side of smugness

I got really good results with it, but I had the upper body strength of a pre-pubescent boy.  I just got really good at lifting light weight.  Not exactly something you brag about to your friends.

 “Dave, how much you benching these days?”

Real answer:

“I’m putting up a solid 135.  But I can rep the hell out of it.”

Ideal answer:

“About 250.”

See Boss status.

So this summer I set out to find different ways to get strong and lean out.  Why I started this in August is beyond me.  The soonest I’d get abs would be Sept/Oct, not exactly the type of weather you want to be flaunting your stuff around without a shirt.  But I digress.

My first whack at it was the Ripped Strength workout – which gave me the results I have today.

I’m confident if I stayed on that plan for another month I’d look the way I want.  Unfortunately, a lot of my workouts went long and I had to either cut out cardio or stretching.

So the next logical step in the programs evolution is to just remove cardio altogether.  I never liked it anyway.


False.  You need a calorie deficit to lose fat.  Cardio helps to burn extra calories but it isn’t necessary.  If you do your workout in a circuit format you can burn more calories than you would doing one exercise, resting and going on to the next exercise and requiring cardio to make up the calories you didn’t burn.  As a super terrific bonus, lifting weights will cause you to burn more calories after the workout where cardio doesn’t do that. 

Advantage weights.


True, but I still don’t like it.  Think about why your heart beats so hard when you run.  It’s constantly trying to pump blood to your legs to keep nutrients and other goodies in the muscles and flushing out the crap.  This in turn strengthens your heart to pump more effectively.  But, if you do a circuit of upper body and lower body exercises then your heart must circulate the blood everywhere.  Making it stronger and more effective in the process.

Advantage weights.


This is a whole post on its own.  I’ll go over the highlights.

Lifting heavy requires more muscle to lift the weights.  This does two things

1) More calories will be needed during the workout to give the muscles the energy to lift the heavier weight and

2) Recruiting more muscle means more muscle is going to need to heal afterwards which increases your after workout burn.

Stressing your nervous system with heavy weights stimulates growth hormone and testosterone production (in males, sorry ladies T is a guy thing).  Stimulating these will help you lean out, add muscle and grow hair in your no-no zone. 

This goes without saying but lifting heavy makes you stronger.  Do you want to sweep you lady off her feet or would you rather drop her trying to?  P.S. they don’t like to be dropped.  Fickle creatures I know.

Advantage heavy weights.

I hope I’ve made a compelling case for heavy lifting.  If not, I’m not a salesman so it’s not a surprise if I didn’t.


Feel free to modify as you see fit with what is available to you in the gym as long as you have one of these in every workout:

Hamstring dominate exercise (20 total reps)

Quad dominate exercise (35 total reps)

Horizontal pushing exercise (35 total reps)

Horizontal pulling exercise (20 total reps)

Vertical pushing exercise (35 total reps)

Vertical pulling exercise (20 total reps)

A finisher (2 minutes)


A finisher is just a general physical preparedness exercise.  See my name is better.  It’s basically a body weight exercise used to fatigue your muscles a little to help you burn more fat.  After you finish the last circuit perform one of the exercises below for 2 minutes.  That’s it, 1 set of 2 minutes.  Beats the hell out of running on a treadmill for 30 minutes.

If you want to get creative, you can do a couple of them to break up the monotony a little.  Stick to 2 minutes’ total.

Here is a list of some finishers:


Mountain climbers

Sled pushing

Farmers walk

Bodyweight squats


Hip thrusters

Step ups

Inverted rows

Split squats

Jumping jacks

Medicine ball throws

Tire flipping

Side lunges

Load the leg press-load the leg press will 45’s and then unload it.  You’ll need a shower after this one.


The workout is designed to be done as 2 circuits.  So within a circuit you’ll go from one exercise to the next with minimal (<15 sec) rest.  After you finish the 1st circuit take a breather for 1 minute then go onto the next circuit. 

If you need to modify the workout, make sure to keep alternating between upper body and lower body.  We are aiming to get your heart pumping and increasing the calorie burn.  This will also give your muscles a rest while the opposite end of the body is working.

We are going to focus on total reps rather than sets of reps.  Take as many sets as you need to get the desired amount of reps.  This also means that you will be able to finish some exercises before others within your circuit.  If that’s the case, then keep the circuit going with the remaining 2 exercises until you finish all reps for each exercise. 


Pick your 5-6RM for each exercise.  Not sure what that is?  Multiply your 10RM by 1.2 and that’s around your 5RM.  Keep this weight throughout the whole circuit even if you can’t get to 5 reps every time.  Remember we want strength!


Day 1

Incline Barbell Bench Bench 35 reps

Squat 35 reps

Pullup 20 reps


Walking lunge 20 reps each leg

DB Standing Shoulder press 35 reps

DB Row 20 reps


Finisher 120 sec


Day 2

Deadlift 20

DB Bench Press 35 reps

Barbell Bent over row 20 reps


Front Squat 35 reps

DB Lat Raise 35 reps

Chin ups 20 reps


Finisher 120 sec


Day 3

Toes-to-bar 3×20

Back extension 3×25

Cable crunch 4×25

Superman 4×15

Swiss Ball Pike 4×15

Deadbug 4×15



Day 4

Split Squats 35 reps

Seated Cable Row 20 reps

DB Chest Flyes 35 reps


Sumo deadlift 20 reps

Seated DB Shoulder press 35 reps

Lat Pull down 20 reps


Finisher 120 sec


Day 5

Leg Press 35 reps

Chest press machine 35 reps

Wide grip pullups 20 reps


RDL 20 reps

Standing Arnold Press 35 reps

Chest Supported Machine rows 20 reps


Finisher 120 sec



As always, here is a PDF to follow along at home:Da Workout


If you know someone who could benefit from this article, please share it on Facebook or Twitter.  2 out of 3 people are obese today, let’s start a change.