“Spot fat reduction” using hormone-focused training ?!?


I have come across an interesting topic recently, notably how you supposedly can manage where to reduce fat by choosing the right exercise and nutritional strategy. And no, this is not “do crunches to lose your belly fat” – it is more complex than that and certainly prima facie the reasoning is sound.

As I am researching this I will dump some of the information here. So please don’t expect an ultra structured post (that one will hopefully come later UPDATE: here, and first experience here and here) but if you are interested in the data dump then read on


Here is the reference from Robb Wolfs forum. It contains in particular the following table:

Problem Area Problem Hormone Solution Hormone Training
Love handles Insulin IGF-1 Dynamic
Hips, but, thighs, man boobs Estrogen Testosterone Density
Belly / Stomach (visceral) Cortisol Growth Hormone Lactic Acid

And no, so far I do not know what dynamic or density training is. I have a certain idea about Lactic Acid Training though. see below

UPDATE: I have to admit, I was always a bit confused about the difference between love handles and belly fat – it seems the latter is really visceral fat, ie fat that is store under the abs muscles. See here and here.

The source referred to in this post is Joel Marion from Cheat Your Way Thin

I myself have received yesterday an email from Mike & Elliot at Lean Hybrid Muscle (h+ck knows who I got on this list) where they refer to this video and a guy called John “Roman” Romaniello. Note that at the end of the link the above table is in the same format as in Rob’s forum, so this is probably a concerted effort.

Alright, the video has some insight on the training methods:

  • Density training (for Testosterone) is about 3:50 in. “Density is defined as the amount of work you do in a given amount of time in a training session”. At 4:50 is a specific program: AMRAP 30 sec on a circuit. Then increase weights and reps. High density is essentially a CrossFit metcon I suppose
  • Dynamic training (for Insulin resistance) is about 8:00 in. This training increases insulin sensitivity. “Fast paced movements that train the body how to move more efficiently”. “Combination movement like the squat press”.
  • Lactic acid training (for GH). Also: get more sleep. From 12:15. “Cortisol is produced in long-duration cardio sessions”. Lactic acid is a precursor of GH (actually, the body counters the effect of LA by GH). Goal: to produce most lactic acid possible. Lactic acid is produced in the concentric phase of anaerobic exercise, and reduced in the eccentric phase. Hence, lift slowly (4-6s), lower quickly. Lighter weights (30%). Thor here: is this your traditional 20 rep squatting strategy?


Here a collection of random facts in no particular order:

  • Cortisol (the stress hormone) is produced by all kind of exercises; the important point is that it gets balanced with the other hormones (this has also been said somewhere in the video I believe). This is one of the issues with chronic cardio, as for this type of exercise the cortisol is dominant. Thor here: does this mean that chronic cardio makes you fat around the belly?

Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1)

Growth Hormone


  • On average, an adult human male body produces about ten times more testosterone than an adult human female body, but females are more sensitive to the hormone.



  • Cortisol (hydrocortisone) is released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucocorticoids. Its primary functions are to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis; suppress the immune system; and aid in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism. It also decreases bone formation.
  • The amount of cortisol present in the blood undergoes diurnal variation; the level peaks in the early morning (approximately 8 am) and reaches its lowest level at about midnight-4 am, or three to five hours after the onset of sleep. Information about the light/dark cycle is transmitted from the retina to the paired suprachiasmatic nuclei in the hypothalamus.
  • Cortisol is released in response to stress, acting to restore homeostasis. However, prolonged cortisol secretion (which may be due to chronic stress or the excessive secretion seen inCushing’s syndrome) results in significant physiological changes.
  • Cortisol counteracts insulin, contributes to hyperglycemia-causing hepatic gluconeogenesis and inhibits the peripheral utilization of glucose (insulin resistance). However, cortisol increases glycogen synthesis (glycogenesis) in the liver.
  • Cortisol can weaken the activity of the immune system.
  • Cortisol reduces bone formation, favoring long-term development of osteoporosis.
  • here are potential links between cortisol, appetite and obesity. [“Stress Cortisol Connection”. Unm.edu. Retrieved 2010-06-14.]
  • Intense (high VO2 max) or prolonged physical exercise stimulates cortisol release to increase gluconeogenesis and maintain blood glucose. Proper nutrition and high-level conditioning can help stabilize cortisol release

My notes from Roman’s interview already referred to above

  • 00:10 Intro / chit-chat
  • 00:55 writer for t-nation
  • 01:40 tampa seminar
  • 07:10 crash diet
  • 09:10 lowest BF 4%
  • 13:00 plateau: (1) evolution, too long diet, leptin, joel marion, body battles back (2) programming is the problem; inexperienced (critical bench, lhm); periodisation; program jumping
  • 15:15 (3) understanding the diet; tracking cals; formulas for calorie requirement17:05 specific calorie formulas x17@4% to x13@25% (multiplier of lean body mass)
  • 18:18 hormonal issues; regional fat storage patterns
  • 19:15: just belly: cortisol; just love handles: insulin resistant; lower body / man boobs: estrogen
  • 20:10 kids, man boobs related to estrogen
  • 20:44 Isabel’s talk “soy milk is like birth control pills”
  • 21:10 average breast size / puberty onset
  • 22:05 leaner -> store in problem areas; he: love handles (was fat; is insulin resistant)
  • 23:05 fat loss plan – offset hormone patterns through training23:20 IGF-1 opposing insulin resistance
  • 23:50 IGF1 produced by big movements (dynamic training); lunges, combination movements, complexes, lunges w/ OH presses, mix 2 exercises for same body part (24:30 eg lunge w/ good morning for hammies) like “hybrid cardio circuits”
  • 26:00 tips
  • 26:20 try to not lower it – stay away from overtraining26:45 testosterone – density training; conflicting evidence
  • 27:25 density training: more work / less time
  • 28:00 specific approach: 2 sets – baseline & exceed it; do set for time (eg OHP for 30sec) – then 10-20% increase in weight and beat the number of reps (for fatloss clients; pro’s will not be able to increase that much)
  • 29:35 more effective: 4 exercise circuit: push/pull (OHP, reverse lunges, bent over rows, weighted abs)
  • 30:50 density training in women: estrogen-related patterns start to decrease
  • 31:40 sex drive
  • 32:15 overtraining
  • 33:25 final phase fatloss
  • 33:40 lactic acid training – donna lesses “meltdown training” slow tempo for growth hormone; slow concentric, quick eccentric (eg 4s lift, drop quickly)
  • 34:50 problem: just lactic acid lighter weights -> bad at quick weights quickly (muscle, strength…); also catabolic
  • 35:40 paired with heavy strength training 3-5reps moderate volume (best to hold up to muscles when dieting, from 6-8 weeks out)
  • 37:00 training of male models
  • 38:45 target: lose the last 5-10 pounds; also if you have hit a plateau
  • 39:30 four days a week plus cardio session (to stay athletic – it is important to run)
  • 40:00 workouts are about 40min; some burn through in 35min
  • 40:25 it is a six week program; but dont do it for more than 10 weeks
  • 41:10 good for athletes? yes – density training etc; also balance, coordination
  • 43:50 build muscles whilst burning fat

6 thoughts on ““Spot fat reduction” using hormone-focused training ?!?

  1. I am super intrigued by this! I’ve heard of different “hormone maximizing” routines before but I’d never seen them summed up like this. Are you going to use this info to change up your workouts? Keep me updated!!

  2. Its pretty new to me so I gotta see. Also, I need to be careful not to become program-jumping like some of those new kids on the block. I did already adjust my plan a couple of times in the last few weeks because of injury.

    Having said this, I will certainly incorporate what fits in my program, given that my programming is deliberately loose and along certain themes rather than fixed 3 months in advance. From my current understanding, Density Training is more akin to a Tabata, whilst Dynamic Training is somewhere between a longer-interval metcon and proper lifting, and I am doing all of those anyway.

    What I am not doing is the body-builder style “lactic acid training” so I am thinking about going for some of those from time to time, eg the dreaded 20 rep squats…

  3. Geez Thor, EXCELLENT post. I feel like an idiot – I obviously should have read it before I jumped into responding to that MDA thread!

    I’ve decided to commit to the regime and am starting on Monday. I too was worried about “program jumping”, but I just transitioned from a couple months of full body work to SimpleFit, which I’ve only been doing for 1 week. I’m taking this on as a unique challenge – I’ve been swayed by all I’ve read about this. Intuitively, it seems to make sense to me.

    I’ll be sure to check in with you progress!

    PS – did you check out that Big Breakfast Diet pdf? Kills me. Marion will sell that book like hotcakes, and Martin (Leangains) has just been sitting on his hands for years now when writing a book is concerned. It’s a shame!

  4. havent bought the program (yet) – probably will get it though. the stuff above was mainly made from the “marketing material”. you are saying at MDA though that he does not give a lot of more details about his method? what I really want to know is what this “dynamic training” is – I understand the “high density training”, and the “lactic acid training” but somehow this dynamic stuff is a bit nebulous

  5. Pingback: Designing your training for specific hormonal impact | Thor Falk

  6. Pingback: Long Overdue Update « The Primal Pantry

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