Rev Up Your Metabolism

By Andrew Heffernan |

“If you want to lose fat,”  says Alwyn Cosgrove, CSCS, “your No. 1 priority in the gym should be metabolic resistance training.” As in, you should lift weights, hard and fast.

Hold up — lifting weights to get smaller instead of bigger?

Metabolic resistance training, says Cosgrove, co-owner of Results Fitness in Newhall, Calif., and coauthor of The New Rules of Lifting for Life (Avery, 2012), is a road-tested way to burn fat — better even than jogging and other forms of more traditional “cardio.” (For more on the science of lifting for fat loss, see “Lift to Lose,” page 62.)

Here’s how it works: Each time you hit the gym, you work your whole body with circuits or pairs of multijoint, free-weight exercises that put the body through a full range of basic functional movements such as squatting, deadlifting, lunging, pulling, pushing and twisting. Because you exercise your entire body every workout, your metabolism has to work overtime for many hours afterward to help you recover. This leads to an intense, round-the-clock fat burn that you can’t get from programs that isolate muscle groups.

It’s a tough workout style, but well worth the effort. Typical strength-training programs are either heavy and slow or fast and light. This one’s both heavy and fast. Follow Cosgrove’s system to the letter, keeping your weights heavy and your rest periods short, and you’ll turn your metabolism into a fat-burning furnace. And you’ll build yourself some functional, head-to-toe strength and fitness at the same time.

The Metabolic Resistance-Training Workout

  1. Once you’re comfortable with these exercises, try the alternates listed or seek out a personal trainer for other options. Just make sure to always use compound, free-weight exercises like the ones listed. Avoid machines and isolation exercises like biceps curls and leg extensions so you don’t overtax some muscles and neglect others.

Pair 1

1A. Barbell Squat to Press



  1. Pause, lower the barbell to shoulder height, and repeat for the appropriate number of reps.

Alternate Exercises: Dumbbell Squat to Press, Barbell Back Squat, Front Squat, Overhead Squat

1B. Inverted Row  


  1. Repeat the movement for the appropriate number of reps.

Make It Harder: Lower the bar, place your feet on a raised surface, or perform the exercise with a weight plate resting on your chest.

Make It Easier: Raise the bar and move your feet back.

Alternate Exercises: Barbell Bent-Over Row, Dumbbell Row, Suspension Row, Seated Cable Row, Assisted Chin-Ups

Pair 2

2A. Alternating Reverse Lunge 


  1. Alternate legs until you have completed the appropriate number of reps on each side.

Alternate Exercises: Split Squat, Overhead Split Squat, Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat, Walking Lunge

2B: T-Pushup  


  1. Repeat for the appropriate number of repetitions, alternating sides on each rep.

Make It Harder: Place your feet on a raised surface.

Make It Easier: Place your hands on a raised surface.

Alternate Exercises: Hands-Elevated Pushups, Weighted Pushups, Swiss-Ball Pushups

Final Exercise

3. Deadlift


  1. Repeat for the prescribed sets and reps.

Alternate Exercises: Romanian Deadlift, Trap-Bar Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift, Kettlebell Swing


The DumbbellComplex Workout

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