June 06, 2020 | John Paul Catanzaro
If your goal is to lose body fat and gain muscle, here’s a great weight training strategy. It involves sequencing your exercises in a particular manner to maximize the training effect.
Let’s take a quick look at the typical loading parameters for body composition training:
• Reps will range from 6 for heavy multi-joint movements like bent-knee deadlifts to 20 for lighter single-joint movements like seated calf raises, but the average range is 10-12.
• Do 3-4 pairs of exercises per workout.
• Do 3-4 sets of each exercise at a moderate to fast tempo.
• Use relatively low rest intervals ranging from 30-90 seconds with the average being 60 seconds between sets.
• Conduct this form of training 3-4 times a week.
The way you order the exercises is important. Make sure to pair a lower-body exercise with an upper-body exercise and then alternate sets between those two exercises. Doing so helps to improve recovery and ultimately performance – basically, you fatigue one half of the body while the other half recovers and vice versa. You can learn more about how this works in 3 Methods of Circuit Training to Shed Body Fat Quickly.
In addition to the upper-lower “zigzag” sequence, make sure each exercise pair includes one multi-joint movement and one single-joint movement. This is a great way to manage fatigue and maintain steady strength and energy levels throughout the workout compared to doing all the heavy “big bang” exercises at the beginning and then running out of steam halfway through the session.
Here’s a glimpse of what that type of training looks like…
You’ll notice that the exercises are paired as follows:
Exercise Pair 1
Multi-Joint Movement (Lower Body) + Single-Joint Movement (Upper Body)
Exercise Pair 2
Multi-Joint Movement (Upper Body) + Single-Joint Movement (Lower Body)
Exercise Pair 3
Multi-Joint Movement (Core) + Single-Joint Movement (Upper Body)
Make sure to choose your exercises wisely. Don’t just pick them at random! Work on your weaknesses. For instance, I want to prioritize triceps development, so the first single-joint movement in both days of my current routine contains a triceps exercise – one with the elbows low using a supinated grip (One-Arm Cross-Body Reverse-Grip Cable Pressdown) and the other with the elbows high twisting from a neutral to a pronated grip (High-Pulley Overhead Triceps Extension).
I also want to beef up my forearms so I’m doing Thick-Grip Chin-Ups instead of “wimpy” wrist curls. And to bring up my inner thighs so that they’re more in balance with my outer thighs, I’m doing Wide-Stance Back Squats instead of the “good girl, bad girl” machine. I’m sure you can see why those are better choices if you truly want to get maximum results.
Take-Home Message: If your goal with weight training is to lose body fat and gain muscle, don’t just alternate sets of upper- and lower-body exercises. Make sure to alternate single- and multi-joint movements as well.
For more tips, check out my ebook Lean and Mean: Fat-Loss and Muscle-Building Strategies for Men and Women. It’s available on Amazon Kindle.