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If you want to burn fat fast to look and feel back at your best then focus on what really matters, rather than wasting your time on these common hyped-up tactics, for rapid results, says New Body Plan creator Jon Lipsey

One of the most valuable things I can do for you is signpost what matters and what doesn’t when you want to get into shape – fast.

Over the years I’ve noticed trends where guys tend to overstate the importance of some training elements and undervalue others.

This is just a quick rundown of the most common misconceptions I’ve encountered. It’ll help you filter out the stuff you don’t need to worry about and allow you to concentrate on what really gets results.

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Overestimated: How much you lift

Undervalued: How you lift
I’ve seen this so much over the years – guys chasing weight at the expense of technique. That may make you feel good but it won’t make you look good because it is quality of muscle contraction, not the number on the barbell or dumbbell, that determines progress.

If you swing your weights around you are using momentum, not the contraction of muscle fibres and the application of tension to those muscle fibres, to move the load. I simply cannot overstate how important it is to get good at applying tension to the target muscle to make that muscle bigger and stronger.

Overestimated: Finishing a set

Undervalued: Your workout effort level
Let’s say you’ve got two guys who are doing three sets of 10. One of them completes his sets with the same weight and the other does 10 reps in the first two sets but only manages 7 reps in the final set. The first guy hasn’t done necessarily better because what really matters is effort level.

If the first guy sailed through his sets then, sure, he ticked them off but he probably didn’t work hard enough to get significant results. If the second guy worked to the best of his ability and just couldn’t finish the set, that’s fine. Rep ranges do matter but if you’re in the ballpark of the target then effort level is going to be a much bigger determinant of your results. This doesn’t mean you need to fail in your final set but it does mean you have to push as hard as you can.

Overestimated: Direct abs work

Undervalued: Training intensity
I’ll be blunt here. If you’ve got a belly, doing lots of direct abs work (such as crunches and planks) isn’t going to be the best use of your time because it doesn’t burn many calories so it has a minimal impact on fat loss.

If you want to shrink your gut and see your abs then you need to make your sessions intense. Doing some abs work has value because it helps to strengthen your core and mid-section, which has carryover to your performance in big lifts. You should also train every muscle group as part of a balanced plan but direct abs moves are generally the icing on the cake.

Overestimated: The importance of steady state cardio for fat loss

Undervalued: Using weights to raise heart rate
A lot of guys think that they need to do steady state cardio, such as jogging, for fat loss. And while it will have a fat loss effect, it’s not the most efficient use of your time. If you want to get better at running, then go for a run. If you want to lose fat, focus on resistance training and high-intensity interval training that challenges your muscles and makes you sweat.

Overestimated: The importance of a post-workout protein shake
Undervalued: Your daily protein intake

You’ve got to have a protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing your session or your work will be wasted, right? Well, not really. If you want to take advantage of every marginal muscle-building gain then there’s a case for a post-workout shake.

But for the average guy who wants to shrink his waistline, I’d focus on total daily protein intake over nutrient timing. Shakes are convenient, basically. They’re not magic. They’re just food.

Make it count
The reason the stuff above matters is because you’ve only got so much mental and physical energy to devote to your training. The more effectively you can channel that energy, the better your results.

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