Are High Reps For Fat Loss A Waste Of Time?

More is not always better.

When you ask a bodybuilder what’s more important: fat loss or building muscle, most people will respond with the latter option. Building muscle makes all the difference in the world simply because doing so will ultimately torch fat. But despite the fact that building muscle is a main priority, there will come a time when fat loss will become just as important as putting on muscle. What’s the point of building muscle if you’re not going to get rid of the fat to show off all that hard work you’ve been putting in? As much as bodybuilding is about building massive muscle, it’s also about cutting down body fat to get shredded.

Now there are plenty of gurus out there that spout all kinds of nonsense about the perfect way to lose fat. Some even go so far as to make the claim that performing a higher amount of reps is the recipe to burning the fat off your body. But someone needs to tell those fools that’s not the case. It burns a great amount of calories, sure. But it also can burn away at your muscle as well. High volume can be beneficial, as long as you’re not doing it exclusively for your fat loss. The point of fat loss should be to lose body fat while maintaining you muscle mass. Here’s what you should be doing to optimize your fat loss.

Caloric Deficit

This is How You Can Burn Stubborn Body FatYou want to maintain a balanced diet when you’re looking to burn fat, but you should consider lowering the calories. Now that doesn’t mean you should slash your calories by 1000. Instead you should start at maintenance, what your body requires to maintain your current weight, and steadily decrease the calories. You still need energy and you still need the protein to maintain you muscle mass, so carefully lowering the calories will help to keep you moving while still allowing you to burn more and more calories.

Low Rep Strength Workouts

Should You Train in the Morning or EveningAnother great way to shed body fat is by doing low rep strength training. Since you’re operating under a caloric deficit your body will be more inclined to burn away at things in the body, including fat as well as muscle. By performing strength exercises you’re putting your body under the same stress and tension as you would if you were looking to bulk and gain muscle. This will be important when you’re looking to maintain your muscle mass as you cut your body fat. By performing strength based work your body will be less likely to target your muscles and more likely to go after fat. Your muscles will be too busy trying to grow or at least maintain it’s presence within the body and the body will recognize that and eat away at fat which won’t be putting up as much of a fight.

Circuit Training

Close up of young muscular man on simulator in gym. Fit shirtless bodybuilder with perfect tensed body training back and looking away, dark atmosphere. Concept of fitness, bodybuilding.

We opened up saying that high reps exclusively isn’t great for burning fat, and while that holds true the reality is that circuit training can be extremely beneficial to getting lean. Circuit training can be great for giving your metabolism a boost which will aid in burning body fat. The idea is that though doing higher reps on a regular basis can eat away at your muscle, performing circuit training once or twice a week can essentially have you burning excess calories, giving a total body workout in the process. If performed in together with strength training it will mean that fat will be torched during circuit days, while strength days will mean maintaining muscle.

Here’s a great example of circuit training for a bodybuilder.

Squat 3 sets, 10 reps
Bench 3 sets, 10 reps
Rows 3 sets, 10 reps
Pull Ups/Lat Pull Downs 3 sets, 10 reps

(No rest in between exercises and a 2 – 3 minute rest between circuits)

Have your own fat loss method? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.


The GI Team is here to provide top news and original content for the new generation. The generation of bodybuilders who are pushing the sport to bigger and better places. Join The Movement. Become a part of Generation Iron!