Stubborn body fat is exactly that; stubborn. It’s usually the last place you’re going to start to see results.
If you’ve been training for a while, been disciplined and built a regularly habit of getting your training sessions in then you’ve probably noticed some changes and definition to your arms, legs, chest, shoulders and even back.
When it comes to weight loss or fat loss you may of even noticed some changes to your weight and body composition.
What most people have a problem with when they’ve been training for a while is stripping the fat form their stubborn area’s (stomach, love handles, hips and thighs). The area’s where it’s most visible when you want to take your physical appearance to the next level. For some people this can even be their arms. Either way it’s the place that’s specific to the person where body fat isn’t stripping away.
Here are 6 things you need to know about stubborn body fat and how you can start stripping away at it.
1. Everyone stores body fat differently.
We’ve all heard of different body types (ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph). By knowing where you fall on the scale of which type of body type you have can also help to determine what type of training and nutrition method will be best for you. For e.g. if you’re an endomorph low carbs with more higher rep training can be more beneficial in the initial phases of training as you have more stored glycogen to burn through when you’re training.
Compare that to an ectomorph and they will require more glycogen (carbs) to support their training. Having too little carbs for an ectomorph can cause them to feel fatigued, depleted and stressed which may lead to further stubborn body fat storage.
I’m going to take this one step further outside of body types and recommend you find out where you store your stubborn body fat the most (you probably already know this). Stomach, love handles, thighs etc. This is useful for you to know because each site is an indicator of a potential hormonal imbalance.
- Stomach – Stress/cortisol
- Love handles – Carb management/insulin
- Thighs – Toxins/detox
Find the priority and then you can work on addressing the priority.
If you store body fat mainly around your stomach then ok what could be stressing your body and how could we work to address that stress or minimise that stress so you can start to see the results you want to see?
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of recovery
- Not eating enough
- Eating too much of the wrong types of foods
- Workload outside of training
- Body being exposed to too many toxins
In this case where the stomach is a priority there can be a number of reason why your body is stressed. The best way to approach is in a holistic way being consciously aware of what is the #1 thing that’s causing you the most stress and then addressing that.
Josie who works 10+ hour days on occasion training 3-4 X week achieving stubborn fat loss with some amazing back progress. Strategic nutrition and training over 4 months.
2. Stripping stubborn body fat with training is a game of push and pull.
Say you’ve got your nutrition and training under control, your metabolism is working fine and you can hit your training with pretty good intensity. Hitting your training too hard at a calorie deficit can lead you to a sudden halt in your fat loss or body composition results.
What most people do when they first start a new training regime or diet is exercise more and eat less. This creates a stress hole where over time your body will naturally want to eat more to recover that gap between exercising more and eating less.
It might not happen after the first week, second week or third week but it will happen. That’s where discipline falls off and it can all become too difficult. You’ve purposely taken your body through a temporary famine. The body is under a lot of stress and of course it wants to eat more and regain the body fat and weight to help the body recover.
To strip away at stubborn body fat think of yourself as guiding it there; not aggressively working it there. Guiding it there is different. It’s strategic. It’s training it hard outside of it’s comfort zone but also allowing temporary periods of time where your body can recover you can go at it again.
Being able to train hard is important for stubborn fat loss because you need to be able to produce adrenaline which helps to release free fatty acids from your fat cells. If you can’t train outside your comfort zone enough because you’re tired than it’s going to be pretty difficult to actively produce adrenaline.
E.g. of a strategic approach to stubborn fat loss training.
- Week 1: 4 Sets of every exercise 10-12 reps – 90 seconds rest
- Week 2: 4 Sets of every exercise 10-12 reps – 75 seconds rest
- Week 3: 5 Sets of every exercise 10-12 reps – 60 seconds rest + 2 Interval session
- Week 4: 5 Sets of every exercise 10-12 reps – 60 seconds rest + 3 Interval sessions
- Week 5: 2 Sets of every exercise 10-12 reps – 60 seconds rest with NO Intervals (De-load)
Each week progressively gets harder followed by a strategic rest week in week 5 where the body can recover and then go again. If you train hard enough in the weeks leading up to week 5 the rest week can even benefit your stubborn fat loss as it bring down the stress you’ve built up from training.
Where most people go wrong is that they go hard form the very get go (week 1) and have no room for development or progression after that. They’ve burnt themselves out way too early.
3. Adopt a strategic approach to your nutrition.
While you can plateau with your results with your training you can also plateau with your stubborn fat loss results with your nutrition. The aim of the game should be to get away with eating as much as you can. It’s going to be more enjoyable and it’s going to be less stressful on your body and hormones.
Most people go low to no carbs straight off the bat and some even go low to no fat as well. What you want to do is take into consideration your body type, your psyche, what stubborn body fat area is it that you’re trying to address and how you’re going to be strategic with your nutrition.
- Monday to Friday (Strategic Carb or Calorie Deficit) / Saturday & Sunday (Higher Carb or Calorie Re-feed)
- Week 1: 10% Deficit
- Week 2: 20% Deficit
- Week 3: 30% Deficit
- Week 4: Back to baseline or 10-20% surplus
You allow a few days or weeks of putting in effort with your nutrition and then resting to go at it again so you can tap into more of your stubborn body fat stores. Being in a calorie deficit is a stress on the body so by taking a strategic break from your nutrition allows you to go at it again with the same amount of motivation and drive.
Bridget achieving similar stubborn fat loss results over a 4 month period training 3-4 X week. This allowed her to still enjoy a lifestyle outside of training. Consistency was key for Bridget.
4. Train to get blood flow to the stubborn area.
To stimulate the loss of stubborn body fat it helps to get blood flow to the area that you’re trying to lose. For e.g. legs and thighs you’re going to want to be doing leg exercises or running. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to a workout as it’s all dependent on the individual and what they’re capable of doing and what’s going to be efficient for them.
The reason why getting blood flow to the stubborn area is important is because adrenaline and catecholomines help the release of free fatty acids from the fat cells; getting them ready to be burned. Because they travel through the blood stream without blood flow to the stubborn areas it makes it pretty hard or non existent for fat loss to happen in that area.
This is why I also stress the importance of looking after your hormones and being strategic with your nutrition and training. As you train harder and harder to get blood flow to the area it also becomes more difficult to produce the adrenaline needed to get to the stubborn area as days and weeks go by.
- Week 1: You go all out to produce adrenaline and blood flow to the stubborn area.
- Week 2: You go all out to produce adrenaline and blood flow to the stubborn area.
- Week 3: You plateau because there’s nothing left to give. Adrenaline is less likely to be produced. The workout is “flat” and you may even be looking for something new.
- Record your progress so you can slowly train outside of your comfort zone each week.
- Stay on a training program for 4-5 weeks and then change it because your body will be use to it. Your training program will also need to be mentally stimulating. You’re going to be more motivated to train if you’re looking forward to training.
- Adopt strategic training and nutrition tips above to have rest periods so you can then go hard and recover hard.
- Adrenaline is produced by your adrenal glands and if they’re over worked they’re not going to be able to produce the amount of adrenaline needed to, to help you progress with your training.
- If you think you haven’t been resting enough than you have to consider getting your health and hormones back on track first before going at it with your training again. Even then your training would be at a much more methodical approach so you’re producing energy instead of feeling fatigued.
5. Track your progress.
Steady progress is great progress. Take progress photo’s, skin fold measurements, tape measure measurements or a combination of the above. What you’re looking for is slow and steady progress from week to week.
You also get to know when something is working and when it’s not working. If something isn’t working don’t do it. If it’s working keep at it. Then again your body is an adaptive machine, once it adapts it’s important to give it something else to adapt to.
6. Make it last with a mindset shift to your nutrition and training.
At first losing stubborn body fat is going to take a bit of effort. You’re going to be getting use to your training and your nutrition. Once you’ve got to a point where you’re happy with your body composition you will be in a position to know what works best for you.
- Training X amount of times per week.
- Nourishing your body with X amount of meals per day.
- Going out to social events X amount of times per month.
- How relaxed you can be with your meals.
- What training and nutrition method do you look your best on a given day?
- What’s most efficient with everything else that I’ve got going on?
You will only find out these answers by going through the process. Doing it on your own or doing it with some help. Finding out what works and what doesn’t. What you can get away with and what you can’t.
Overall to make it last it’s a mindset shift making health and fitness a part of your lifestyle. How much of it you want to make as part of your lifestyle is dependant on what you want to get out of it.
Want to get your nutrition and training details done for you so can focus on life? Book in your training consultation and BioSignature assessment today.