Top Ten Fat Loss Training Tips

Top Ten Fat Loss Training Tips

Train for fat loss the same way you trained to build muscle.

Akash Vaghela Akash Vaghela · 19 Sep 2017

Training Beginner
9 Mins

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When you’re dieting for fat loss, you need to make sure your training is on point if you want to end up with the best physique possible.

Many people overlook their training and end up just going through the motions.

These are the same people who end up losing muscle mass during their diet, and sport a ‘stringy and weak’ look to their physiques.

We don’t want that. Which is why you need to pay attention to these ten fat loss training tips…

1. ‘Dance With The One Who Brung Ya’

When you think of training for fat loss, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is to slash their rest periods in half, double their reps, and perform everything in circuits.

This is the worst possible thing you can do.

If there’s one piece of advice you take from this article, it’s that you need to ‘dance with the one who brung ya’.

This means that the way you trained to build your muscle is how you should still train now you’re in a fat loss phase.

What built your muscle is what will keep your muscle. If you get rid of muscular overload in favour of ‘fat burning workouts’, your body no longer has any reason to hold onto the muscle it’s built.

Of course, this is provided you were training with the right principles before dieting!

2. Train Like You Want To Build Muscle

During the one hour you spend in the gym, your singular focus should be on building muscle.

No matter what your goal is.

This means you still need to train with the intention of making improvements every session, regardless of how small.

Sometimes this might not happen, especially in the latter stages of a diet.

But the intention should be there.

3. Focus On Strength 

In order to build, or at least retain all your muscle mass during a fat loss phase, strength in the 6-12 rep range should be at the forefront of your mind.

From my own experience, I’ve found most people’s strength actually increases for a while when in a fat loss phase.

This is likely because of reduced inflammation, improved joint health, better leverages and ‘feeling’ good.

Once you get below 10%, or the calories start dipping low, then your strength will probably stagnate, and may regress in some lifts (presses are usually most vulnerable).

Your goal at this point should be to maintain it as much as possible, because this is what will influence how much muscle mass you retain throughout your diet.

4. Increase Your Training Frequency

I’m a big fan of four days a week of weight training when building muscle is the goal.

For fat loss, I think there can be merit to training a little more frequently for periods of time.

The key benefits of bumping your training up to 5, or even 6 days a week can allow for the following:
  • You can spread volume out a little more during the week, allowing you to potentially maintain strength on key lifts higher.
  • It allows you to keep food higher as you’ll be more active.
  • You can focus more in each session – shorter sessions will mean each muscle group can receive adequate attention and escape the ‘drag’ feeling common when on low calories.
  • You can trigger muscle protein synthesis more often, which is critical when dieting.
Regardless of how you set it up, the key is to maintain the same principles as you would in a muscle building phase.

5. Manage Your Volume Per Session

It’s tempting to add more sets and reps when you’re working towards fat loss.

But this is actually the opposite to what I recommend.

For example, for both Lee and Shyam’s recent photoshoots, we reduced the rep ranges and set totals in the final 6 weeks.
Given the high cardio workload, lower calories and low body fat, training with too much volume – whether it be with too many sets or high reps – can be too depleting on the body to sufficiently recover and maintain strength.

The final 6 weeks is all about strength, which is why it’s not uncommon for me to recommend focusing on only two, maybe three sets per exercise solely in the 6-10 rep range.

Maximising muscle mass retention is our number one goal with training, so we need to manage all variables to ensure our strength in the gym is good.


6. Focus On Big, Compound Lifts

Want to know the best ‘shaping’ and ‘detail’ exercises?

Here we go…

Squats, chin-ups, dips, presses, rows and deadlift variations.

The same big, compound exercises that you religiously slaved away on while building muscle are the same ones you’ll be working on when dieting.

Not kickbacks and concentration curls.

And this applies even at the end – when you need to bring more ‘detail’ out… (Note: this is typically body fat!)

7. Don’t Change Your Workout ‘Phases’ Too Much 

We’ve discussed the importance of maintaining the same principles of programming when dieting.

But what about changing programs during the diet itself?

The times when I think making changes is applicable is in the following two situations:
  • When you want to increase training frequency, i.e. going from 4 to 5 days a week. The overall ‘feel’ and structure of the program should be similar though.
  • When you want to lower training volume to allow better strength maintenance.
Changing it because it’s been 4 weeks is not a viable answer.

When you get into the final 6 to 8 weeks where the only goal is maintenance (provided you’re lean), changing your workouts can actually work against you.

In the situations I mentioned above, the tweaks would only be small. It’d never be an overhaul.

What will always stay the same in the final parts are your key ‘indicator’ lifts.

We need to know how well they’re holding up, so it’s critical you keep your main lifts the same in the latter stages of a diet.

It’s also the worst time to introduce a new lift given the 4 to 6 week ‘learning phase’ that typically comes with it.

8. Attack Your Cardio

When training for fat loss, you want to use weights to build/maintain your muscle, and cardio to burn the body fat.

Cardio shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought, or something to cruise through.

You need to push these sessions.

If you’re doing HIIT, you need to go balls out for your sprints. You should be completely wiped out after a good HIIT session.

If you’re doing LISS, don’t just make it a leisurely stroll or bike ride. Focus on hitting calorie goals, improving distance, beating your best times etc.

The more progressive you make your cardio, the better fat loss adaptation you’ll get.

9. Move More

In addition to your ‘official’ cardio sessions, an overlooked but powerful method to induce more fat loss is through general daily movement.

This can influence your energy expenditure from anywhere between 15 and 50%, which can make the difference between calorie maintenance and a deficit.

As a rule of thumb, aim to hit at least 10000 steps a day, and titrate it up as you get deeper into your diet.

You’ll be surprised as to how much of a game changer this is. 

10. Keep A Log Book

I’m a believer in keeping a logbook all year round. But the two times where its use is really beneficial is when you’re pushing the envelope in either a fat loss or muscle building phase.

When you’re getting to those final stages of fat loss and fatigue starts to creep up, it can be tempting to lift light and ‘take it easy’.

A logbook can counteract this by holding you accountable to your previous performance, and keeping the pressure on in your training.

If you know you lifted X last week, you know that you need to beat or at least maintain it this week. Especially when you’re aware of the importance of strength in muscle retention.


Akash VaghelaAkash Vaghela

Akash Vaghela has spent 10+ years transforming bodies and lives around the world, and in May 2017, founded RNT Fitness to serve this purpose. His vision is to see a world transformed, where ambitious high performers experience the power of the physical as the vehicle to unlock their real potential. He’s the author of the Amazon best-selling book Transform Your Body Transform Your Life, which explains his unique and proven five-phase methodology, is host of the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, has been featured in the likes of Men’s Health and BBC, whilst regularly speaking across the world on all things transformation.

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