Taken from Vitality Magazine issue 7, out 30th January 2016. Want to read the article in full in its original format? Print it off and take it to the gym: Click here! After the female version instead? Follow this link to find Emily Cole’s 3 Fat Burning Exercises!

When guys come into the gym and tell me they want to burn off some of their excess weight, I always advise them to forget about doing too much cardio work. Research tells us that building lean muscle mass is a much more effective way to burn fat in the long run – and the more muscle mass, the higher the energy demand when training. Weight-training not only builds the muscle that does a great job of metabolising fat, it also increases the testosterone in a man’s body: the hormone that aids muscle-building. You’ll still need to monitor what you eat and drink because this isn’t magic – but stick with it and you’ll see great results in an incredibly short time. I’ve put together a three-stage workout that keeps an eye on your precious time by mixing up weights work with high-speed interval training. You’ll get a really good muscle- building, energy-demanding workout in a fairly brief session.

“Stick with it and you’ll see great results”

– Tom Atkinson, Head Coach and Master Trainer, Virgin Active

Don’t hesitate to play with the repetitions I’ve inserted here, they’re just a rough guide; and try some of the variations I’ve suggested in the graphics to stop your workout turning into a chore. One thing I would strongly recommend, though, is a minimum of three days a week doing these: you need recovery time for the muscles to repair between sessions, but to really see the benefit you need to do some work too! I’ve seen amazing results with three-day-a-week training. One last tip: don’t keep stepping on the scales: the shirt you pull on, the top button of your trousers and the bathroom mirror will tell you that it’s working!

Tyre Flip


This one incorporates a lot of your muscle groups. Our model squats to bring in all his leg muscles, his hands go under the tyre – this one is 60kg but if that’s a strain at first, see if a 40kg tyre is available – and he braces his back and core before using his legs to power up, and using his upper body to help flip the tyre forward and over. It’s a great exercise that demands energy from the whole body.


Squat, lift, power up and forward, doing the flip 10 times to complete one set, keeping your back nice and straight. Aim for a total of three sets in the session. Give yourself 45-60 seconds as a breather between sets.

Or Try…

Freshen things up with these tyre alternatives

1. Tyre Deadlift


Grip two of those black handles and stand inside the tyre. You’ll work the muscles at the back of your legs more with this one.

2. …Perfect for peak time training


Keep your back straight and tighten your core as you raise and lower the tyre. It’s ideal for when the gym’s busy and there’s less space for you to flip it around.

3. Or push it…


This can be integrated with our main exercise for variety: flip the tyre, then push it, then repeat to finish your set (five of each). Or flip five, then walk around the tyre and push back to the start. Keep your back flat and arms straight (if you bend them, you’ll be pushing from the shoulders), with all the drive coming through the legs.

Squat Thrust


Here we’ll be using all our muscle groups again: the lower body as we squat, the upper body as we power the bar above head height. Go for just a 20kg lifting bar to start with as it’s important to get your technique right before moving up the weights in 5kg increments.


Aim for 6-10 repetitions with this, in maybe 3-4 sets plus the same 45-60 second breathers as before. This isn’t only about building muscle, it’s about busting fat – and if that’s your motivation,
try to only take the 45 seconds! It’s great for improving blood flow all round the body too.

The 3 Stages

Concentrate on your technique for safety, as well as good results

1. Start…


Feet shoulder-width apart, bend and lift the bar to the waist, then dip the knees again to quickly hoist the bar up into this front-hold position, with the bar beneath your chin. Dip the knees to protect your back.

2. …Squat


Take yourself slowly down till your thighs are parallel with the floor and your elbows are at right angles to them. Tighten your back and core so the legs are doing the heavy work.

3. …Power up!


Take a deep breath, keeping everything – legs, back, core and arms – nice and straight. Just hold for a second before returning to our start position.



On the bike, hand position can vary as long as the seat is around hip height, with knees  flexed at the pedal’s low point.  This is interval training: controlled bursts of high intensity work, followed by slower cycling. In the sprint, go for 90 per cent of possible effort, then cycle at 60 per cent for a recovery period. Set the resistance to half when recovering but boost it to three quarters for the sprints.


If you’re not as fit as you’d like, sprint for 20 seconds then recover for 40 seconds; over time make that 30 flat out and 45 recovering. Aim for 5 rounds like that – but 10 would be better! Any of these interval sessions make a great way to end your 3-step workout.

Or Try…

The rowing machine: it really gets the blood flowing…

1. Start position


Your shoulders shouldn’t be doing the heavy work here: surprisingly, neither should your legs. The hero muscles here are the lats – the middle of the back – plus the triceps and biceps.

2. Flat out for 20 seconds…


Our model’s got his back just right here. Your start position should have you leaning forward, creating a nice big pull; then, bring your back into the flatter position to keep it healthy.

3. …40 in recovery!


The legs are almost straight now, with some flex in the knees. The handles have come right into the chest, head nice and still, core tightened, ready to repeat.


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