The Fat Loss Magic

Over the next few days I’ll be sharing with you an expert interview series with my friend Alwyn Cosgrove.

For those of you who do not know Alwyn, he is a two-time stage 4 cancer survivor, a columnist for Men’s Health, and spends his time educating, lecturing, and coaching in the fitness industry.

If you would like to listen to the call  Click here


Craig: Hey, everyone. It’s Craig Ballantyne from Turbulence Training and the Certified Turbulence Training Program.We are here with the best call of the year, Alwyn Cosgrove from Results Fitness.

He is going to share with us, and as he said just before the call, “drop knowledge bombs” about how the fitness industry is doing, what we can expect to see in 2013, some of the best training he’s been doing over the past year, and some really cool stuff in nutrition and basically maximum fat loss and helping people get the best results.

Mr. Cosgrove, welcome to the call.

Alwyn:    Thank you for having me. Now that you’ve said that this is best call of the year before we’ve even started, the pressure’s on. Now I’m nervous.

Craig:    Best is a subjective term. It could be the most entertaining. As long as you’re entertaining, I think everyone will be very happy.

Alwyn:    You could have one for the most accents on the phone.

Craig:    A Canadian one and a Scottish one; people are going to demand their money back.  It’s been a good year for Results Fitness?

Alwyn:    Yes, it’s been strong and continues to grow. We continue to try to lead with what we’re doing from a business and taking care of our clients in terms of educating trainers through our side arm, which is Results Fitness University. It’s an educational component for seminars. It’s definitely been a strong year for us. We’ve tried a few different things, and things have worked out well.

Craig:    That’s pretty cool. The last time I was at your place you were talking about some really cool training that you were doing. What about in terms of some of the stuff that you and your staff of amazing trainers have come up with and identified through all the experiments you get to run? The fact that you have a couple hundred clients and you have Rachel’s Skinny Jeans Program, and all that great stuff. Have you had any breakthroughs?

Alwyn:    We know our program works, so we start by changing one variable with the staff. All our staff train and do different workouts and we get feedback. If it’s positive, we change it. We experiment on ourselves and we change it with a small group of clients. We’re always comparing a couple of things. Our joke is that we have a corporate office and we have a research and development center, so we’re testing different things.

To back up, I think everyone who is a Turbulence Training member understands that you were instrumental in moving the masses away from steady state aerobic training for the purposes of fat loss to an interval training model in which you’d use the bike or running, and you’d do perhaps 30 seconds on and 60 seconds off.

The evolution we came to last year or the year before is that, for example, running a mile burns approximately 100 calories, give or take. It burns faster if you run faster, obviously, and a little less if you run slower. Roughly it’s around 100 calories for a normal body weight person. If we establish that as a norm, and our goal is to burn calories, then a mile is 1,500 plyometric repetitions at two to four times body weight impact forces. You would have to do that amount of impact on the joint to burn 100 calories.

Our revolution was if the goal is not to produce a runner but to produce this metabolic response, let’s move into metabolic training where we use exercises such as a kettlebell swing or ropes, etc. where we can reduce the total impact and reps, but still get that same metabolic demand. Effectively, we could go harder because we aren’t beating up on the body the same way. That was the idea, and that revolutionized what we were doing as far as metabolic programming.

This year, what we started to look at… We changed the way…  There are really five ways to do metabolic training, and most trainers do one. What we call a Level One Interval Training is a fixed work and a fixed recovery. I do 30 seconds of work and 60 seconds of recovery. That’s where most people start. The concept there is, “What if I haven’t recovered in the 60 seconds?” Let’s take that for an example.

If I haven’t recovered in the 60 seconds, the next work set is negatively affected, and I’m not going to recover from that, so there is a fatigue accumulation effect. Then the whole session just trends towards aerobics, which is what we’re trying to avoid by doing interval training in the first place.

We started looking at different ways to do interval training. If I take that up a notch, I have a fixed work period where we work for 30 seconds and a variable recovery. Perhaps I use heart rate to do this. Then you rest as long as it takes for your heart rate to come down to maybe to 70% to 75%. Then you go again.
Perhaps, Craig, you would do 30 seconds of work, you’ve recovered in 30 seconds and you’re ready to go again, and I haven’t recovered for 60 seconds. I would wait, and you would go again. That’s Level Two. We call it “Fixed Work and Variable Recovery.”

Level Three is doing variable work and variable recovery. We were able to do this with a visual heart rate monitor display so that people could look at it. That’s how we were tracking this. We start the clock and it’s going to beep every 20 seconds. When it beeps, you look at the clock and see where your heart rate is. If you are at over the 80% heart rate max, for example, we stop there.

You rest until you are at 75% max. You just listen for the beep. If you look at the clock and you’re not recovered, you keep recovering. If you look at the clock and you aren’t in the red zone in the work period, you keep working. It makes the whole interval training process completely customized. We go variable work and variable recovery.

The heart rate doesn’t tell the whole story, but we’ll just stick with that for now. The idea is that maybe in a 30 minute workout, you, Craig might get 30 sets done and I might get eight sets done, but we both should get the exact same perfect results. It’s the amount of results that we can get without overtraining or injury because the body tells me what I can do.

What we found while testing different things this year was that we could do fixed work and progressive recovery, progressive or regressive work and fixed recovery. There are a lot of different ways to program it. The point that I want to get across to all the listeners is that most of us do this fixed work, 30 seconds on and 60 seconds off, which is completely arbitrary in the first place. We’re just picking it and seeing how it works. Doing it with the heart rate, or some other type of variable allows us to completely customize it the way we would strength training.

When we first started testing it, the cool thing was, we had the jeans challenge last year. In summary, the jeans challenge is an eight week program where we get people down two jean sizes. We did the same thing this year, and the only thing we changed was the metabolic work from fixed work and rest to variable work and rest. Our results were significantly better. I don’t have the exact percentage, but what was an eight week challenge to drop two jeans sizes we got done in under five weeks. It was close to four weeks, to be honest. This was the only change we made.

Being a good scientist, you only change one thing at a time. When we did this, the only change we made was this variable work and recovery. I know that was the difference maker between the two groups.

I don’t know if it would be better for conditioning or an athlete training for something. I haven’t tested those. In terms of fat loss results, it’s the best metabolic system we’ve come across so far.

Craig:    Pretty cool.

Alwyn:    It was one of those things that when you test it, you have a gut feeling it’s going to work. Logistically, in the beginning, it’s a nightmare to try and organize. We introduced it one step at a time. We’ve taken an interval training protocol and just dialed it in so that everyone is doing the exact right intensity for them.

That’s the magic. Once you can customize it a little bit more from a genetic program to a customized program, that’s where the magic is. That’s where we got to.

That’s all for today. Join us tomorrow in part 2 where we talk about heart rate monitors and what Alwyn recommends for trainers.

Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer