How to Train for Non-Stop Fat Loss

The More You Suck, The Leaner You Get

The 6 Tools

The strength and conditioning coach has six basic tools:

  1. Strength training
  2. Hypertrophy training
  3. Mobility training
  4. Nutrition
  5. Mindset
  6. Inefficient exercise

That last one is really confusing for most people.

When it comes to fat loss, any type of exercise works if your diet is in check.

Regardless of what you choose to do, whether it's African disco dancing or kettlebell swinging, it'll work. There's an inherent problem with this, though.

As you become more and more efficient, you get less and less benefit.

Group Fitness

A modern dance class would just about kill me, because every time the class does "step-ball-change," I'd have added twenty extra moves.

Oh, it would all equate to fat loss for me, but the skilled dance major/twinkle toes to my right had better have a perfect diet, because all the moves are second nature to her, done with little thought and little effort.

This has always been the problem with jogging for fat loss. Sure, jogging a mile works at first if you're not used to it and are inefficient, but soon you'll need two miles, then three, etc. to get the same effect.

You become efficient, and soon you're adding miles and miles just to maintain. And then you get hurt. And fat.

For fat loss, exercise needs to be as inefficient as possible.

I love the kettlebell swing. Seventy-five swings performed three days a week is enough to start peeling the fat off, but if you go from 75 to 2000 swings a workout and stop losing fat, you may need to look for alternatives, additions, or a heavier 'bell.

Inefficient exercise is going to look different for everyone. If you're a horrible dancer, dance; if you're a lousy swimmer, swim; if you never bike, bike.

You must seek ways to waste lots of energy. Leonard Schwartz had it right with his HeavyHands training. Tossing hand weights up and down while walking is a very poor way to walk, but it roasts the fat off!

So how do we add the concept of inefficient exercise to our training?

Recently, I invested in Concept II E Rowers for the gym, but for most, following the standard rower workouts won't work.


There are sites where people post their row workouts and I struggle to see how I'm going to survive 50,000 meters of making like the survivor of a shipwreck.

My alternative approach is simple: focus on 500-meter rows. This takes about two minutes for most of us. Add one to three of these sprints anywhere you like in your training and you'll huff and puff for a bit.

But why not go longer? Well, as you tack on more and more meters, you get too good!

Likewise, toss in two-minute bouts on any "cardio" machine. Find some kind of standard and work to improve a little. When you improve a lot, find a new machine.

A few years ago, human performance specialist Mark Snow taught me that doing corrective work seems to raise the heart rate.

Similarly, my football coaches found that having us pop up and down off the floor made us very tired. Oddly, it also made us better at football.

So, during rest periods, do the moves and stretches that you need to address. Make the ground your friend.

Between sets of leg work, try some push-ups or ab work. Add bird dogs or whatever floor-based movement you feel like doing throughout your normal training.

Most of us need some level of mobility work, so why not try to get a belly-shrinking movement to go with it?

Kettlebell Swing

I love doing swings mixed with the fundamental human movements. Try the following example, but don't worry about how many reps or what loads to use until you've done it a few times. Err on fewer and lighter.

  • 35 Swings
  • Push-Ups
  • 15 Swings
  • Windmill Stick Right
  • 35 Swings
  • TRX T Pulls or TRX Y Pulls
  • 15 Swings
  • Windmill Stick Left
  • 35 Swings
  • Trap Bar Deadlift
  • 15 Swings
  • Stoney Stretch Right Knee Down (RKD)
  • 35 Swings
  • Goblet Squat
  • 15 Swings
  • Stoney Stretch Left Knee Down (LKD)
  • 35 Swings
  • Swinging 45s, Rolling 45s, or Rolling 45 T's
  • 15 Swings
  • March in Place

Two rounds equals 500 swings and a good number of the fundamental human movements.

You could, of course, easily make all that getting up and down more efficient, but then you'd lose the fat-loss aspect of the exercise.

For fat loss, be as inefficient as you can be!

Windmill Stick

TYI Pulls

Stoney Stretch

Dan John is an elite-level strength and weightlifting coach. He is also an All-American discus thrower, holds the American record in the Weight Pentathlon, and has competed at the highest levels of Olympic lifting and Highland Games. Follow Dan John on Facebook