How To Consistently Burn Fat On Autopilot

Photo by [Jon Ly]( on [Unsplash]( by Jon Ly on Unsplash

You don’t need 30 exercises and calorie-counter apps

When I was 5’5 I weighed 176 lbs. Now, I’m 5’11 and weigh 163 lbs. In the process, I’ve reduced my body fat percentage by 10% and have gained substantial muscle mass.

My journey started 5 years ago when I finally decided to do something about my health. Before that, I was into sports and used that as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted.

As an athlete, this didn’t serve me well. My peers were faster and much more agile than me. They were taller too and in a sport like basketball, I always had my tail between my legs.

Here’s my journey of fat loss and what you can take away from it.

Year 1

The summer of 2015 was the time when I got serious about losing weight. I knew I wanted it bad enough but didn’t know where to start.

Desperate to lose weight, I started running in the park behind my apartment.

I went there and did all sorts of training programs I found on the Internet. The only problem with these ‘beginner’ programs was that I couldn’t even do a single push-up.

All I could do was use my legs to walk or run. So that’s what I did.

As far as my diet was concerned, I only did minor changes. I only removed sweets and junk food from my diet which seemed like a big step then.

During that summer break, I ran for an hour every day followed by a 3-hour session of stretching and another 2-hour session of basketball in the evening.

I was burning the candle at both ends.

After the summer break, things got a bit chilled out. Since my classes resumed, I continued running for one hour every day as soon as I woke up, followed by a few stretches.

To sum up, the first year was mostly about cardio.

Year 2

After being tired of running and walking for a year, I decided it was time for me to level up.

Since I’d lost some weight, I could set a new target to learn basic bodyweight exercises. To my surprise, I still did not have the strength to do that. I struggled to complete 5 pushups because I’d never done them.

Ironically, my lack of strength convinced me that joining the gym was the next step. I begged my dad to let me join but looking at my strength, he rightly denied.

Instead, he bought me some lightweight dumbells and a bench to start practicing at home. I was more than happy with it. I started learning the basics of weightlifting and finally was able to do all the things I’d dreamed of doing.

Year 3–4

At this point, high school was over and having developed basic strength, I joined the gym, ready to build muscle. (Or so I thought).

To my disappointment, the only difference between the gym and my home was the machine-based exercises which, let’s be honest, are not so great.

Even though I waited for this moment for over a year, I wasn’t progressing much.

Years three and four were filled with plateaus.

On top of that, I was trained by at least ten different instructors, all of which gave me conflicting advice. At one point, I was so confused that I ditched a weights section for a few weeks.

Even though I was consistently hitting the gym 5 days a week I only saw minor improvements.

Let’s just say looking at the mirror every morning was not my favorite part of the day.

I still kept going, until in year 5, everything I knew about weightlifting changed.

Year 5

I had been going to the gym for two years at this point.

But here’s what my performance looked like:

  • Squats < 100 lbs

  • Bench press < 90 lbs

  • Deadlift — never done it before

  • Shoulder press < 30 lbs

This is not the numbers you’d like to see after busting your ass for two years.

The reason my numbers were so low is that I focused a lot on concentration movements.

Trying to work the ‘lower-chest’ when I couldn’t even do a proper bench press.

Trying to work the hamstrings when I’d never done a deadlift.

My idea of strength training was narrow. I tried to isolate each and every part that I trained, leaving behind all the fundamental movements in the process.

Clearly this wasn’t working.

In search of a better solution, I stumbled upon Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT)which changed the game forever.

Master the Fundamentals

As I said, focusing on working ‘inner-biceps’ and ‘lower-chest’ is useless until you’ve mastered the fundamental movements in the gym.

Finding RPT was the best thing that could’ve happened to me that year.

As Martin Berkhan, one of the OGs of RPT, highlights, there are two reasons everyone loves RPT:

  • Time efficiency: If you can’t be in the gym for more than thrice a week, then you have to make every rep and every set count. RPT does just that. Every set is AMRAP — As Many Reps As Possible. By doing this, you increase the quality which lets you get superior results in less time.

  • Have your cake and eat it too: It’s the best way to lose fat and maintain or build muscle at the same time. It’s better than the winter-bulks and the summer-cuts you’ve to go through every time.


Most weightlifters follow a pyramid. A typical pyramid starts with lower loads and higher reps, progressing into higher loads and lower reps, thus finishing with the heaviest set.

RPT reverses the flow. Why? Because you get to attack the heaviest weight first, instead of attacking it at the end when you’re tired from the lightweight already — fatigue leads to poor form which is a recipe for shitty results and injury.

Here’s how an RPT sequence would look like:

  1. Warm-up: 2–5 sets at 40–67% of your first set x 3–6. Warm-up as much as you need. Some movements require more warmup than others.

  2. Goal: 8

  3. Breakdown: 10%

  • Set 1: 100 x 8

  • Set 2: 90 x 10

  • Set 3: 80 x 12

Coming to the movements, here’s what you can do in three days per week:

Monday/Day 1

  • Deadlift — 2 x 6

  • Row or Overhead Press — 3 x 8

  • Accessory: Calves, biceps or triceps — 2 x 10

Wednesday/ Day 2

  • Bench press — 3 x 8

  • Row or Overhead Press — 3 x 8

  • Accessory: Calves, biceps or triceps — 2 x 10

Friday/ Day 3

  • Squat — 3 x 10

  • Weighted Chin-Up — 3 x 8 [9](

  • Accessory: Calves, biceps or triceps — 2 x 10

Start each day with a compound movement followed by accessories.

This in my opinion is the simplest workout program you’ll find. Plus, I’ve never been a fan of doing 20 exercises in a single workout.

Even if you don’t stick to RPT, you should focus on mastering the fundamental moves first.

For me, these include:

  • Squats

  • Deadlift

  • Bench Press

  • Bent-over barbell row

  • Overhead press

  • Pull-ups

  • Push-ups

People who skip these exercises are seldom able to develop the muscle thickness and symmetry they’re looking for.

Also, since the fundamental moves hit multiple muscle groups, they give the best return on time invested.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is the best system I’ve found to consistently maintain or lose body fat over the long-term.

Fasting, at least for me, is effective from a behavioral perspective more than the nutritional perspective. (Even though there’s tons of research to support that too).

It’s difficult for people to restrict eating their favorite foods or consume them in moderation. Conversely, it’s much easier to go cold turkey.

When you do an intermittent fast, you don’t have to choose what you’ve to eat during the fasting window. By eliminating the need for choice, you eliminate the possibility of making a bad decision.

Keep in mind that a 16-hour fast is not a ticket to an 8-hour buffet. You have to still plan your meals and ensure you get the required macronutrients that you need.

Ritualize Meals and Automate Decisions

Coming again with a behavioral perspective, it’s important to minimize food choices for long-term fat loss.

You might have the willpower to make healthy food choices every day. I used to think that too. But reality has made me realize otherwise.

We overestimate our ability to make good decisions in the future. But more often than not, we’re in for an unpleasant surprise.

To tackle this, I’ve had the same breakfast for the past 4 months. By selecting a meal with proper macronutrients that I wouldn’t be tired of eating, I’ve automated good decisions.

This is one of the best ways I’ve been able to gain muscle and lose fat without worrying about it.

Don’t Buy Junk You Can’t Resist the Temptation to Eat

If the cookie is on the table, you’re going to eat it. It’s as simple as that.

Don’t buy junk and don’t shop for groceries when you’re hungry.

Build the Habit of Checking Labels Before Buying Processed Foods

Most processed foods may advertise low-fat and low-sugar ingredients, but the labels tell the truth.

A random trip down my kitchen was enough for me to understand that the foods I considered ‘healthy’ were just a bunch of sugar-loaded crap.

If You Eat Out, Look for Protein-Rich Items to Keep You Satiated

Don’t eat out if possible. My health has improved a lot during the coronavirus lockdown as there are no obligatory dine-outs.

But if you do eat out, look for protein-rich items that’ll keep you full and prevent you from loading up on pizzas, pasta, and desserts.

Final Thought

We don’t rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems — James Clear

Fitness, like most things in life, is all about your system.

The common trend underpinning all my fitness advice is this — automate good diet decisions and don’t waste time in the gym.

Once you take care of these two things, everything else falls in place.

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Written on September 17, 2020