How to Burn More Fat With Lactic Acid Training

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Your new secret weapon for getting shredded

We’ve all felt that familiar burn a few reps into a difficult set. You probably wanted to stop, maybe you did.

But to burn the most fat possible, you’ve got to blast right through it.

That’s the secret to lactic acid training: losing fat by significantly boosting your body’s lactic acid levels. If you can take it, you should see your abs again in just a few weeks.


The burn is caused by your body using glycogen (the body’s stored carbohydrates) for energy. In an anaerobic environment (like strength training and other high-intensity workouts like sprints), the glycogen breaks down into a variety of different compounds, including pyruvate, which then turns into hydrogen ions—the real trigger of the burn. It’s their buildup that creates lactic acid (lactate) in the muscles.

The more lactic acid present, the more growth hormone (GH) your body releases.

Okay, but how does lactic acid increase the production of growth hormone?

I’m glad you asked. Well, okay, technically I asked, but you get the point.

As lactic acid metabolites begin to flood the bloodstream, this increases the overall acidity (makes sense—it’s called lactic ACID after all) of the extracellular tissues, and causes nerve irritation. 

Translation: basically, some bad stuff happens and it hurts.

Now, here’s the good part. When your blood and nerves and other tissues are acidic, your body goes, “Dude, this sucks, I’m going to fix it.”  Basically, because the cycle of metabolic waste removal is breaking down, certain processes begin to regulate acidity.

To which, you may ask…

Um…why is that the “Good Part”?

Simple: in order to regulate that acidity, your body starts to produce tremendous amounts of Growth Hormone—and for anyone who doesn’t know, Growth Hormone is the single most effective biological compound your body can produce to elicit fat loss or muscle gain.

Exactly how much Growth Hormone will be produced during lactic acid training?  Well, it’s hard to quantify, but my estimates place it somewhere in the area of “a metric crap-load.”

Training in a way that produces a lot of lactic acid—and thereby signals immense release of Growth Hormone—is one of the single most effective ways to trigger overall fat loss; especially if you’re in a caloric deficit. 

Growth hormone is helpful for general fat loss, but is specifically beneficial in that this hormone can counteract the effects of cortisol; at least in terms of the effect on fat storage.

In addition, it’s been posited that production of lactic acid can also create some level of localized fat loss; you know—spot reduction.  There is some empirical evidence to suggest that if you structure leg training to produce lactic acid, you can reduce fat stores in the legs. 

While I’m not really convinced that this has all that much merit, from time to time I’ve been surprised at how quickly lower body fat storage can be offset by incorporating this style of training. 

Of course, I’ve tried it on myself and dozens of my clients, but the problem is that there’s no real way to quantify whether it’s working. We primarily do full-body workouts, and we lose fat over the whole body.

Despite seeing some cool things, I’m not ready to boldly say that training the lower body in this leads to to shedding leg fat.  It’s worth mentioning because there’s some empirical evidence out there, for what it’s worth. So, maybe you can do your own experimentation.

However, it is clear that more lactic acid leads to more growth hormone production which causes muscles to grow and turns fat to fuel. The only problem? Spiking your lactic acid production means long sets and short rest periods. In other words, it’s hard.

So you’ve got some work ahead of you.

You’ll perform your sets with a slow speed on the upward portion of each rep, such as the pressing stage of a dumbbell bench press. This will mean you’ll have to lighten the weights. It’s likely to feel different than any kind of training you’ve done—and the results will be too.


Perform the workout once per week, completing heavier workouts on your other training days. Rest at least a day between each session.

Time Needed
35 min

Do It
Perform the exercises marked “A,” “B,” and sometimes “C” in sequence, resting as directed between sets, until all sets are done. Be sure to perform the reps at the specified speed. Choose weights that are 20% to 25% lighter than what you would normally use.



Lie on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand. Take three seconds to press one weight up and then do the same for the other arm. Lower the first arm while keeping the other locked out. Complete the set, rest 10 seconds, and then go on to the  goblet split squat.



Hold a dumbbell in both hands with your palms around the sides of one of the bell ends, not the handle. Bend one knee and rest the top of that foot on a bench behind you so you’re supported on one leg. Lower your body down and then take three seconds to come back up. Complete the set, rest 10 seconds, and then go on to the bent-over lateral raise.



Bend over at the hips so your torso is about parallel to the floor (keep your lower back arched). Take three seconds to raise the weights out 90 degrees to your sides. Complete the set, rest 45 seconds, and then repeat the circuit. After three circuits, rest for 90 seconds then move on to the rotating dumbbell row.



Bend at the hips until your torso is about 30 degrees to the floor (keep your lower back arched). Hold the dumbbells with your palms facing your legs, and then rotate your hands outward as you row them to your sides. Your palms will face forward in the top position. Take three seconds to do the row. Complete the set, rest 20 seconds, and then go on to the dumbbell Romanian deadlift.


SETS: 3 REPS: 15

Rest the weights on the front of your thighs. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, bend your hips back and then your knees, keeping the weights close to your legs. Continue until you’re about to lose the arch, and then take four seconds to come back up. Complete the set, rest 20 seconds, and then go on to the lumberjack press.


SETS: 3 REPS: 10 (each side)

Hold a barbell lengthwise in the center with a hand-overhand grip just above your right shoulder. Take three seconds to press the bar up and over your head, and then lower it to your left shoulder. Complete the set, rest 75 seconds, and then repeat the circuit. After three circuits, rest 60 seconds, and then go on to the Garhammer raise.


There aren’t a lot of free use photos of garhammer raises on Flickr, so this is to take the workout’s pain away. (Photo: NikonGrl)


SETS: 2 REPS: 12

Lie on your back and raise your legs in the air. Take two seconds to raise your hips off the floor and into the air (the range of motion is very short ). Do not let your lower back come up. Complete the set, then go to the goblet squat without rest.


SETS: 2 REPS: 10

Hold a dumbbell as you did for the goblet split squat, but stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Squat as low as you can. Take four seconds to come back up. Complete the set and then repeat the Garhammer raise without resting.

Cool down, stretch, and let me know what you think of lactic acid training below.

I’ve found lactic acid training to be so effective, that it’s one fo the 4 main training modalities featured in my bestselling program, Final Phase Fat LossIn FPFL with a combination of lactic acid training and three other training strategies, you can shift your hormonal environment so that you can finally lose those last 5-10 pounds.

Through thousands of clients, I’ve seen that those last few pounds are always the toughest. Once you get to that point, you can’t just cut calories and expect to keep getting results. In fact, if you just cut calories, you’ll mostly lose muscle, not fat.

That’s why Final Phase Fat Loss exists.

And, in 2021 my team just released a brand new bodyweight version of FPFL. Learn more here.

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

Comments for This Entry

  • Michael J. McDonald

    I'm going to give the workout a go. I'm going stale in my workout s and I need to try something new and I think this is what I need. Thanks for the post John Your awesome

    October 25, 2015 at 12:01 pm

  • Michael J. McDonald

    I'm going to give it a go today. It looks like you'll get a good pump from this type of training. I like circuit style training better then your typical bodybuilding routine and I think your programs awesome. Keep up the good work coach.

    July 2, 2015 at 12:49 pm

  • talin leask

    Hi there, is this workout a 'one off' or do you continue for a few weeks? I completed Man 2.0. (not a man myself!) but have found my body has changed (proportionately much better) but my weight has plateaued, which is very frustrating!!

    June 29, 2015 at 4:09 pm

  • cb

    just did my first LA training..DO THIS! tried to peel a hardboiled egg while driving in the car starving on the way home..DONT DO THIS!!

    January 14, 2015 at 6:11 pm

  • DrAmit Trivedi

    Great.. Images, details, explanation and design. Good feeling comes from exercise. And losing fat affects your whole body positively.

    September 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm

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