Why Controlling This Cellular “Switch” is the Key to Unlocking Stubborn Fat

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
October 07, 2014

This post was created by Sue Heintze, creator of The Beta Switch.

What does a shot of adrenaline feel like?

OK. I’m guessing you’ve never had someone literally stick a needle in your arm and pump adrenaline through your body. But humor me here. Put on your daydreaming cap and think about it for a minute.

Anytime you’ve gotten a surge of adrenaline (from anger or fear, for example) what happens?

You get fired up.

You’re amped.

Things feel electric.

The hairs on your skin stand up and wiggle.

You can’t sit still.

You’re pacing the halls.

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Clawing at the walls.

Ready to attack… or run like a bat out of hell. Either way you’re running on rocket fuel. Supercharged for the task at hand. Ready to channel your inner super powers.

All of these things may make it seem like you’ve just had a fuse lit. And you’ve got wildfire blazing through your veins.

So, when I bring up the fact that controlling adrenaline is the key to unlocking stubborn fat, it should kind of FEEL like it would make sense. There’s no way you can get THAT fired up and not burn a little fat, right?

So, let’s take a look at exactly what I’m talking about here. I want to clearly lay out exactly how you can use it to start smoking that stubborn fat out of hiding, and work towards a leaner, more chiseled physique using the best tool out there – bodyweight!

The Stubborn Fat Challenge

The first thing you need to know about stubborn fat is that it’s not the same as other fat. Essentially, not all fat is created equal.

The fat just underneath your skin is more resistant to release than the fat around your organs and muscle. Thus the name “stubborn fat”.

Woman pinching fat from her abdomenStubborn fat accumulates in particular areas. On women these areas tend to be the hips, butt and thighs, while men typically suffer from stubborn fat around the belly and the chest, hence the “beer belly” look.

One of the reasons that stubborn fat is so aggravating is because it doesn’t discriminate between thin and overweight men and women. So always keep in mind that no matter what you weigh, you can suffer from the plague of stubborn fat. Think about that for a minute.

How many times have you dieted and exercised like crazy, only to lose some weight but still be riddled with unsightly stubborn fat zones? It can be pretty depressing. Putting in all that work and depriving yourself of the foods you love, and you still end up with fat that just won’t go away.

And quite often this stubborn fat may show up as cellulite. Those cottage cheese like “dimples” that haunt your most embarrassing body parts. Cellulite affects women more than men because of the different structure of the layers of skin and fat compared to males. On top of that, body composition (muscle to fat ratio), genes, skin thickness, age and lifestyle all influence whether or not you have cellulite. And exactly how much of it shows.

What’s more is that stubborn fat and cellulite have more restricted blood flow.

And this is key. Because it means that it’s much harder to not only free up fatty acids, but remove them from trouble areas and prevent them from flowing right back to the fat stores they came from. The sad truth is that you will only lose stubborn fat after you have lost fat from the more easily mobilized areas of fat.

But the good news is that you can do something to expedite the process. And it has nothing to do with excessive exercise or extreme calorie restriction.

Your hormones are the big player here.

What’s Adrenaline Got To Do With It?

Every fat cell has receptors on them known as adrenoreceptors. You can think of these receptors like little switches.

When these switches are flipped they send signals to either store or release fat from their holding cells. Body fat contains two types of adrenoreceptors – beta and alpha.

In basic terms, beta receptors promote fat metabolism and alpha receptors block fat metabolism.

medium_8295241645According to research, lower-body fat has been found to carry as much as NINE TIMES more alpha receptors than beta receptors. So, if you’re a woman struggling with lower-body fat, you can begin to understand why.

Now, the direction these receptors flip (either fat storage or fat release) is controlled by one very important hormone.

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You probably already guessed it.


When adrenaline flips a beta receptor on a fat cell it kicks on fat burning and decreases the odds of lean muscle loss.

So, here’s the important thing to keep in mind:

You can burn as many calories as you want, but if you don’t stimulate the release of adrenaline, you are going to be less efficient at burning fat.

This is why extreme dieting and excessive exercise don’t work at eliminating stubborn fat and cellulite.

Prime Your Body For Fat Loss

The process of actually losing body fat (normal or stubborn) requires you to first mobilize the fat out of the actual cell and into the bloodstream. Lack of blood flow to stubborn areas makes this even more difficult.

On top of that, the fat then has to be burned off once it’s escaped from that darned cell. If it’s not, it can simply be shuttled right back into the fat cell again!

medium_8295241597One of the BEST ways to first mobilize fat out of the fat cell is to perform high-intensity exercise. High intensity exercises prompts your adrenal glands to release adrenaline. It also has the added fat-burning effect of lowering insulin levels.

The presence of insulin inhibits fat mobilization, so you’re getting a double whammy in favour of fat loss here.

During high-intensity training you are using mostly carbohydrates for energy, as opposed to fat.

Essentially, these workouts prime your body for fat loss by releasing fatty acids from the cells. They also raise your metabolism and fat-burning ability for up to 38 hours after your workout as a result of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

Research indicates there is a big surge of fatty acid release into the bloodstream minutes after completing a high-intensity exercise session. In other words, when you’ve completed your high-intensity session, your fat is now ready for step two – fat burning!

Obliterate Free Fatty Acids

If you neglect this second step, then you are missing out on the ability to obliterate troublesome stubborn fat.

We do this by following up the high-intensity workout with some steady-state cardio work. This allows your body to burn off the fat that is now circulating in the blood stream.

This type of cardio, performed at around 65-70% of your maximum heart rate, is well known as the “fat-burning zone”. If you train in this zone you will mostly be burning fat for fuel rather carbohydrates.

So, if your current exercise program isn’t helping with stubborn fat removal, then stop listening to the naysayers!

medium_3218701045While high-intensity exercise is the bomb when it comes to increasing metabolism and getting the most “bang for your buck” (or butt!), a few strategically placed steady-state cardio sessions can do more to get rid of your stubborn fat stores than you ever thought possible!

If you have fat that just won’t go away, don’t overlook the benefits of this much-maligned training system.

Here’s a simple two-part bodyweight workout designed to bust stubborn fat. Make sure to perform a thorough warm-up before you start.

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Part 1

1. Walking Lunge into Calf Raise x 10 reps on each leg

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  • Step forward into a deep lunge with your left leg.
  • Press off the ball of your left foot and rise into a calf raise.
  • Bring your right leg forward into a deep lunge.
  • Repeat.

2. Mountain Climber x 30-40 reps

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  • Begin in a push up position.
  • Drive your right knee towards your shoulder.
  • Pop your rear up as you drive your right knee back.
  • At the same time drive your left knee towards your shoulder.
  • Repeat.

3. Jump Squat x AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

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  • Squat down quickly to load your glutes and thighs.
  • Explosively leap into the air, reaching your arms for the sky.
  • Land softly and repeat.

Rest 1 minute 4.

Push-up x AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

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  • Begin in a plank position.
  • Keep your body tight from your head down to your heels as you.
  • Lower your body towards the ground.
  • Squeeze your chest and drive your elbows towards your ribs as you press back up.
  • Repeat.

5. Frog Jump x 10 reps on each side

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  • Squat down and place one hand on the ground.
  • Jump and spin a quarter turn.
  • Land softly and squat down with the opposite hand on the ground.
  • Repeat.

6. Spiderman Exercise x 10 reps on each side

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  • Begin in a plank position.
  • Step your left foot to the outside of your hand.
  • Return to plank position.
  • Step your right foot to the outside of your right hand.
  • Repeat.

Rest 1 minute

Repeat this circuit 2-3 more times through.

Rest 3-5 minutes, then move on to part two.

Part 2

Alternate between the following, at a heart rate of approximately 65-70% (or a level 3-4 on a Rate of Perceived Exertion measure) for a total of 30 minutes:

  • 5 minutes of slow jogging or fast walking
  • 5 minutes of slow stair climbing, or slow uphill walking

Rate of Perceived Exertion guidelines:

  • 0 nothing at all
  • 1 very weak
  • 2 weak
  • 3 moderate
  • 4 somewhat strong
  • 5 strong
  • 6-7 very strong
  • 8-9 very, very strong
  • 10 maximum intensity

You don’t have to go crazy on the cardio. More is NOT necessarily better. What matters most is where you program cardio in your training schedule.

And don’t forget, to get that beautiful shapely, toned figure, you still need to build or at least maintain your muscle mass so some heavier workouts are also recommended.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to check out The Beta Switch!

Sue Heintz is the creator of The Beta Switch. Sue is the founder and Managing Director of Ideal Bodies Online. Sue’s journey began with her first “12 Week Challenge” that created extraordinarily positive changes in not only her body appearance and fitness, but also her self confidence and well-being. Sue is now a Fitness Professional and is or has been a contributing writer to Australian Oxygen Magazine, Australian Women’s Health & Fitness magazine and Shape Magazine.

Start blasting your stubborn fat now! <=

Credit photo, photo

Show/Hide Comments (2 comments)
  1. Anne

    So I should do hiit on the treadmill and then a slow jog after.i want to reduce my inner thighs I’ve tried endurance running but it ddnt seem to help

  2. Len

    Great post Todd. I have a question. How many days a week does Sue recommend this workout for maximum fat burn? It’s good to understand the science behind high-intensity exercise for fat loss.

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