By Nick Nilsson
Author of Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss
Fat Loss Circuit Training, if you're not familiar with it, is one of my favorite time-efficient fat-loss training strategies.
At its core, you'll be alternating "normal" sets of resistance training with 30 to 40 seconds of moderate-intensity cardio training. This bounces your body back and forth between different energy systems and muscle fiber types, with ZERO rest for an entire workout.
It's challenging and INCREDIBLY effective.
It's also a key component of my Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss program.
Fat-Loss Circuit Training Using Dumbbell Crawling
In this workout, there are two things at work...
1. I decided to use Dumbbell Crawling as my "cardio" instead of actual cardio. This is an incredibly effective core stability and strength exercise and, because it works essentially the entire body to some degree beyond just the core, it's PERFECT to use for Fat Loss Circuit Training.
2. I decided to limit myself to using a single 135 lb barbell for EVERY part of this workout, just to keep things very simple and to force myself to get creative. You don't necessarily have to do this, but I find it to be an excellent mental exercise in addition to physical exercise.
In this workout, you'll go through 5 basic movements/movement patterns...explosive, press, pull, squat, and posterior chain. You'll do 3 sets of each (except the posterior chain, which I usually do just 2 sets).
In between each and every set, instead of taking rest, do Dumbbell Crawling forward and backward on the floor, for about 15 feet or so. This ended up taking me about 40 seconds, which is perfect timing for the "cardio" portion of the training.
How to Do Dumbbell Crawling
First, you'll need a couple of dumbbells. If I'm doing this exercise on it's own, I'll use 65 lb+ dumbbells. For this workout, because I was going to be doing this exercise a LOT, I decided to drop down to 35 lb dumbbells.
Basically, you'll be grabbing the dumbbell handles and "walking" forward on all fours. When you move the dumbbell forward with your left hand, you should be stepping forward with your right foot. This puts cross-tension on the core, targeting the deep muscles (obliques and transversus).
Practice this exercise before you jump in and try it in this type of workout. It takes a few seconds to get the hang of the movement and how to move your limbs properly, but once you get it, you'll discover how awesome this exercise is.
Walk your dumbbells forward then walk backwards...(this is actually HARDER to do, since there's no propulsion from your legs).
You'll be doing this exercise between every resistance training set.
Exercise #1 - Explosive - Barbell Hang Clean and Press
The hang clean and press is a total body movement. It originates from the hips (similar to the top portion of a stiff-leg deadlift). Accelerate the bar VERTICALLY, then flip the wrists around to rack it across your shoulders. Then press up to lockout.
Exercise #2 - Press - Barbell Floor Press
In this version, to get into position, slide your legs under the bar and grip it with your normal bench press grip. The bar should be about mid-thigh. Now roll backwards onto the floor, using your legs to push the bar backwards along with you.
Lie back on the floor with your upper arms flat on the floor, taking tension off the pecs. Then press up.
To get the bar back to the floor, at the top of the press, bring the knees up then allow the bar to "fall" forward, catching it on the thighs. This will leverage your upper body up into the sitting position and the weight will be on the floor again.
Exercise #3 - Pull - Pendlay Rows
This is a simple barbell row...except that at the bottom of EVERY rep, you set/touch the bar to the floor. As well, you want to focus on NOT bobbing your upper body at all. Keep an arch in your lower back and go for a solid contraction in the upper back.
And look straight forward (not like me in the pictures where I'm talking to the camera!).
Exercise #4 - Squat - Floor Zercher Squats
The Zercher Squat is done with your forearms hooked underneath the barbell. In THIS version, instead of starting from a rack, I'm going to show you how to start with the bar on the floor.
Take an overhand grip just outside your knees then stand up.
Now slide your left arm under the bar. Make sure you have a palms-up position with your hands. This puts the two forearm bones in the proper position to form a shelf, so you're not forcing all the weight to rest on just one bone.
Now stand up. Do your reps, then reverse the process to set the weight back down on the floor.
Exercise #5 - Posterior Chain - 2 Up 1 Down Stiff-Leg Deadlifts
This is a very simple concept...come up with two legs, then come DOWN on just one leg. This puts more eccentric load on one hamstring at a time. It allows you to still hit the hamstrings hard with a lighter weight.
And you're done.
I had actually never tried Dumbbell Crawling as cardio in between every exercise previous to this...and believe me, it was GREAT. Using an abdominal-focused exercise in this fashion gives a tremendous workout to the entire core as you're hammering the rest of your body.
The entire workout took me just under 25 minutes to complete. It required very little warm-up and was EXTREMELY effective. THAT is what I'm talking about when I say this is time-efficient fat-loss training.
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