Campbell Boot Camp: The Most Effective Fat Loss Exercises

What’s The Most Effective Exercise Method?

It depends!  I don’t say this to be sarcastic.  It really does depend on what your goal is.  Some people want to lose weight.  Others want to “tone up” and feel stronger.  Some people want big, defined muscles. While others want to run faster, or jump higher. Technically speaking,  these goals dictate different training programs.

At lifeSport Fitness, my experience over the years has taught me that the majority of people we work with want fat loss, although they may not say it this way.  They tell us they want to lose weight, lose inches and/or develop muscles that are firmer and less jiggly. We also hear a lot about wanting to decrease “belly fat”.   This all points to “fat loss”.  We try to avoid the term “weight loss”, as it doesn’t really tell the whole story.

In a well-designed fat loss program, inches will be lost, and muscle mass will be maintained or improved, thereby giving people the feeling that their muscles are firmer and more toned. In some, but not all cases, scale weight will be lost as well (this depends on whether an individual has a lot of excess body fat).

With fat loss/muscle strengthening in mind, then, what is the most effective exercise method to achieve these results?   Lucky for the participants in our boot camps in San Jose and Campbell, they’re doing the right stuff for fat loss in every camp workout.  I’ll outline below what studies have found with regard to effective programs so that you’ll have ideas on how to design your own workouts during the week.

Intensity matters. Higher intensity exercise has been shown to facilitate better fat loss results than lower intensity or moderate intensity exercise.  This is why we include high intensity activities such as Tabata intervals into some classes, and why we coach our boot campers to work hard on the cardio segments during our cardio/ strength circuit and partner drills.

Functional exercises are superior to isolation exercises.  Strength training exercises utilizing several joints and/or large muscle groups (think push ups, rows, squats, lunges, dead lifts, squat to press, and lunges with medicine balls) have been shown to elicit hormonal shifts that favor fat loss more than single joint exercises such as biceps curls or leg extensions. We still have campers using smaller muscle isolation exercises in our classes on occasion, but we mainly incorporate exercises that utilize multiple joints at once for maximum calorie burn and to help the body function better as a whole.

Interval training is superior to steady intensity training.   Studies show that high intensity interval training trumps lower level, steady intensity endurance training for fat loss.  Interval training creates a kind of turbulence in your body.  It takes more energy to perform, and requires more energy (calories) from your body after the fact.  In the hours after a good, high intensity interval training workout, your body tends to utilize stored fat for fuel.

High intensity circuit training creates a “best of both worlds” situation for strength gain and fat loss. A 2010 study indicated that strength training done in a high intensity circuit format created better strength gains than a low intensity circuit format, and better fat loss gains than traditional endurance training.  Two major health benefits in ONE workout!  Yes !  Performed properly, the cardio/strength circuit we use in our fitness boot camps gives you the benefits of interval training, with the strength benefits of circuit training.

High intensity workouts hit you in the belly.  A 2008 study found that high intensity exercise was more effective for reducing total abdominal fat in women than lower intensity exercise.

In our boot camp programs in San Jose and Campbell,  we formulate the workouts to be a mix of cardiovascular interval training (like Tabata intervals), circuit training (our cardio/strength circuit) and functional training (many of the strength exercises in our circuit).  We think it affords our customers the most effective mix of exercise training for fat loss and muscle gain/maintenance.

Want to experience one of the best workouts in the Bay Area?  You’re invited to a FREE one week trial at one of our boot camps!  Try an early morning workout in Downtown San Jose or Almaden, or an evening workout in Campbell or Los Gatos.  Our camps are co-ed and all fitness levels are welcome.  Log on to: to reserve a spot for a free trial!

What have you got to lose but some unwanted fat???

Committed to your success,


How To Build The Ultimate Circuit Training Workout For Rapid Fat Loss

In the past, the cornerstone of most resistance training workouts has been performing exercises in a straight set format. Essentially, this means you perform a certain number of reps for a certain number of sets of  a given exercise, and then you rest anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes based on your training goals before repeating this set/rep combo again. This is actually a traditional body builder program.  There’s nothing really wrong with it, and most “regular” folks you see at the gym are doing just this type of a program.  If they’ve got 60-90 minutes to get their strength workout and their cardiovascular training in,  and they’re getting the results they want, well then, they should probably keep doing what they’re doing!  However, there is a quicker way to get a great workout in.

A much more effective and time-efficient approach to ordering your exercises is utilizing the alternating set format. Here you’ll perform one exercise, rest for a very short period of time, then perform another non-competing exercise, rest for a short period of time, and so forth. Alternating sets allow you to work different areas of your body when you would otherwise be resting with the straight set format. Plus, by working another area of your body with a non-competing exercise you allow your body to recover from the previous exercise(s). The result is improved training economy and density: more work accomplished in less time, the cornerstone of any sound fat loss program.

There are several ways to perform alternating sets outlined below:

1.)   Supersets: Alternate between two different non-competing exercises (e.g. upper body and lower body such as push-ups and lunges). I really like this format and use it for my personal training customers in San Jose, as well as for many of my own workouts.

2.)   Trisets: Alternate between three different exercises (e.g. push, pull, and lower body such as push-ups, rows, and lunges).

3.)   Circuits: Alternate between four or more different exercises

Though supersets and trisets are excellent alternating set options, I believe circuit training is by the far the best option for time-crunched recreational exercisers who want to boost their metabolism and decrease body fat . That’s one reason why we  incorporate a strength/cardio circuit into about 90% of our monthly bootcamp workouts in San Jose and Los Gatos.  They incinerate calories, as well as develop lean muscle and cardiovascular endurance.

Here’s an example of a 6 station cardio/strength circuit:

Exercise#1- Jump rope

Exercise#2- Dips

Exercise#3- High knee jog in place

Exercise#4- Pull-ups  (if you don’t have a pull up bar, you can do an inverted row at home by putting a broomstick across two chairs)

Exercise#5- Fast lateral shuffle

Exercise#6:  Push ups

Exercise at each station for 1 minute, and take a 10-15 second recovery break between each station.  At the cardio stations (1, 3, and 5) you’ll go “all out” for one minute.  At the strength stations (2,4, and 6), perform sets of 8-12 repetitions of the exercise, and then take a brief rest.  Beginners might get in 2 sets, advanced folks might get in 4 sets during the 60 second time frame (due to less rest time).

Perform this circuit up to four times for an excellent fat burning workout.

The key to creating the optimal hormonal environment for fat loss is to perform each exercise with maximal intensity while separated by brief rest periods in order to accumulate a high volume of total body work in the shortest amount of time possible. Circuit training provides for the best of both worlds and is thus simply unmatched for simultaneously maximizing fat loss and lean muscle gain.

When you’re short on time (and who isn’t these days!), nothing beats a high intensity circuit training workout.

Committed to your success,