The Most Efficient Workout Ever

By: Tim Rigby (Courtesy of Inside Fitness)

We’re going to let you in on a little secret.  You don’t have to slog through hours and hours on the elliptical or stairs in order to burn fat actively.  Weight training for fat loss isn’t just some gimmick of competitive fitness athletes that only works for them.  A recent study published in the journal Biology of Sport concluded that training separate muscle groups each workout induced a two per cent fat loss, whereas full-body training induced a six per cent fat loss.  These numbers may appear at first glance to be nominal, but remember to apply the percentages to your overall mass, and also appreciate that it’s a contrast of 300 per cent.  Furthermore, full-body training also produced a more significant increase in testosterone, which puts you in an anabolic state.  The greater this hormonal state, the more efficiently you’ll recover, while building more muscle and burning more fat when you’re not working out.

This full-body training is INTENSE!  Not from a high volume of endless reps, but rather from the effort and tenacity it requires from you to produce high-quality reps with changes of resistance, all within a short time frame.  During this workout, you’ll develop strength, build muscle and burn some serious calories, both while you’re training and for several hours to come.  The results you can expect from ‘The Most Efficient Workout Ever’ are scientifically supported and comprehensive.  This may be the one of the most intense training sessions you can perform, so let’s take a look at the scientific principles involved with this workout:

> > Compound Movements Produce a Sustained Calorie Burn.  A high proportion of gym workouts include one of the three multi-joint powerlifts – that is, either the squat, bench press or deadlift.  More intense workouts will employ the use of two of these lifts, but for our purposes here, we’re going to ramp up the intensity to the highest level and fit in all three of these kings of compound moves.  By employing several muscle groups at once, you can effectively lift greater loads using energy expenditure (that is, burning calories) from both your major and minor muscle groups.  A study conducted by Tower et al. and presented at an annual meeting of the National Strength and Conditioning Association in Las Vegas posited the statement that subjects burned 50 per cent more calories performing the compound squat exercise, compared to the leg press. The reason it’s rare to perform these three powerlifts altogether every workout is because there is a risk of intra-workout overtraining if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Overtraining can have counterproductive effects like muscle injury and cortisol saturation, which can weaken muscles and prolong recovery periods; it can also lower testosterone and mess up the quality of your sleep.  Over time, this will actually cause fat gain rather than fat loss.  Nevertheless, in this workout, we show you how to avoid these pitfalls, employing the big three effectively and strategically in combination with other exercises and techniques.

> > Isolation Movements at High Speed Incite Immediate Calorie Burn.  In conjunction with the efficient calorie-igniting compound moves, this workout will have you perform specially selected isolation moves with a higher volume at a quick pace, in order to expend substantial calories on the spot.  A contemporary research report from Oliveira, Goncalves et al. and published in Journal of Strength Conditioning Research found that subjects who performed fast-cadence reps (still using good control) burned more than 10 per cent more immediate calories than those who used a typical, steady speed.  Furthermore, fast reps were shown to induce a sustained elevation in metabolism for hours post-workout.

> > Short Rest Periods Can Impact Calorie Burn Substantially.  Before we go any further, let’s reiterate that this workout does not emphasize power or strength specifically.  Shorter rest periods do not lend themselves to increases in near-maximal strength.  What we’re interested in here is fat burning from resistance training, which also increases muscular hypertrophy as a nice bonus.  Researchers at the College of New Jersey studied the contrast in brief rest periods versus longer ones and the result was significant. Subjects burned up to 50 per cent more calories when their rest periods between weight-training sets were 30 seconds, as opposed to those who rested three minutes.

> > Compound Sets Ignite Your Metabolic Furnace.  In an ordinary world, you may employ the specialty technique of compound sets into your workout sporadically for an added intensity advantage, but we bet it never crossed your mind to use compound sets with other specialty methods in the same workout.  Compound sets involve reaching the end of a set, then continuing on by performing reps of a related exercise that hits the same muscle group.  According to scientists Kelleher, Hackney et al. in a recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, back-to-back sets with no break between them incited 35 per cent more calorie burn than performing sets with a one-minute rest period.

Putting it all together, this workout involves strategic sets and reps schemes of both select multi-joint and isolation moves, along with short rest periods, high-speed reps and compound sets.  Now that you know everything you need to execute, you might be thinking, ‘You gotta be kidding!’ but you said you wanted intense fat burning from weight training!  Man up and do your best.  You may fail the first time you attempt this workout, but your body has an amazing ability to adapt.  Give it as many cracks as you need and when you succeed, you’ll discover that there may be no better workout for fat loss through weight training than ‘The Most Efficient Workout Ever’!

Keep in mind though and this is important: before all that, always check with doctor first to get the green light before starting any new training, diet or supplementation programs, especially one as intense as this one.


Be sure to perform a light warm-up set of the first exercise in each compound set, using a weight you can lift for eight to ten reps.  For example, before performing five reps of your first set of squats, use a lighter weight and complete eight to ten squat reps.  Do a similar warm-up for the bench press and deadlift. 

Use a rest of 45 seconds between each compound set, but take a one-minute break after the last compound set per exercise, before moving on to the next one.  Use this workout twice a week for one month (eight times in four weeks), bask in your unprecedented results, then switch up to a different training protocol.


                                                   Sets                Reps                      Rest

SQUAT compound with                  3                5, 5, 5   
LEG EXTENSION                          3                10, 10, 8*            45 secs. / 1 min.

BENCH PRESS compound with    4                7, 6, 5, 4
CABLE CROSSOVER                   4                10, 10, 8, 8*        45 secs. / 1 min.

DEADLIFT superset with                3                5, 5, 5
LYING HAMSTRING CURL            3               10, 10, 8*            45 secs.

* = Perform all reps of the second exercise in each compound set at a higher speed, using a quick cadence – but always employing solid, safe technique.

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