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5 Little Known Workouts to Burn Fat and Build Muscle

Learn about five workouts that I personally do as a part of my fitness, muscle building, and fat loss routine. Each workout combines three different elements of training that work together to provide a big fitness results.

By
Ben Greenfield
5-minute read
Episode #251

In the episode “Does Biohacking Your Body Really Work,” I tackled the often uncomfortable and awkward topic of forsaking standard gym workouts, bypassing standardized fitness routines, and instead delving into the world of techniques such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy, electrostimulation, cold thermogenesis, whole body vibration, and more. I discussed how one of the more appealing aspects of this type of fitness “biohacking” is the ability to get maximum effects with a minimal effective dose of effort, or to achieve more than one fitness result at the same time with as much efficiency as possible.

There are five such workouts that I personally do as a part of my fitness, muscle building, and fat loss routine, and each workout combines three different elements of training that work together to provide a big fitness response. Happy biohacking!

1. Cold Water Swimming + Hypoxia + Weights

Pro surfer and fitness icon Laird Hamilton first popularized the concept of carrying rocks, kettlebells, and dumbbells underwater (here’s a video example), and author Neil Strauss introduced me to these type of workouts several months ago during a longevity conference in Los Angeles. The basic workout consists of holding your breath underwater in a pool, river, or lake, and treading water, running, walking, doing explosive squats, or simply swimming underwater with a weight held to your chest, your side, or between your legs.

Even in the absence of long breath-holds or cold water, these type of workouts build strength, stress-resilience, mental focus, and lung capacity all at the same time. But when combined with the calorie-burning and positive cardiovascular effects of cold water exposure, and the growth hormone and enhanced oxygen utilization benefits of breath-holding, these underwater workouts become all the more potent.

Here’s a sample routine:

-Get in a pool, preferably a cold, outdoor pool, with a 10 lb dumbbell.

-Hold the dumbbell to your chest and attempt to swim to the other end of the pool underwater.

-Come back, but this time on your back in a seated position with your feet above the surface of the water, treading water with your hands, holding your head above water, and clutching the dumbbell between your thighs.

-Repeat for 3-5 rounds.

2. Sauna + Resisted Breath Training + Yoga and Body Weight Exercises

I’ve lately been using a hot, insulated, infrared sauna for heat acclimation training and detox, an N=1 experiment you can read about in more detail here. But rather than simply sitting cross-legged in the sauna and staring at the wall, I’ve instead been working on mobility, isometric strength, and inspiratory and expiratory muscle capacity by also including yoga and resisted breathing during my 30 minute forays into my very sweaty “pain cave."

First, I pre-heat the sauna while I warm up my body with a 20-30 minute run, bike ride, or weight training routine. Then I go into the sauna, put on a resisted breath training mask, and perform a routine like the one outlined below:

-5 repetitions of yoga "chatarunga" motion

-1 round of yoga sun salutations

-Repeat chatarunga to sun salutations three times

-10 body weight squats

-1 repetition of chatarunga

-60 second isometric lunge hold on right leg

-1 repetition of chatarunga

-60 second isometric lunge hold on right leg

-Repeat squats, chatarunga, and lunge holds three times

-Finish with 5 minutes of box breathing while still wearing mask

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About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.