There is always a new fitness craze! People enjoy Zumba or Pilates or Spinning, but in the end, are these activities moving you towards your fat loss goal? More than likely, the answer is no. That doesn't mean you're a bad person, there's just a lot of information out there to sift through.
For that reason, we're here to give you just 5 general rules to help you towards your fat loss goal.
Not lifting Weights
Lifting weights, or resistance training, has been proven to be the best way to burn fat. In the article, “The Hierarchy of Fat Loss,” studies have shown that lifting weights elevates the metabolism for up to 36 hours after your workout. Comparatively speaking, cardio tends to burn the same amount of calories during the act of exercise, but there’s no “after-burn” boost to the metabolism, and this is the key.
From an exercise perspective, there’s nothing wrong with a session on the treadmill, rower, or stationary bike. However, if fat loss is your goal, consider adding resistance training to your regimen 3 to 4 times a week.
Relying on Cardio
Feeding off of the last point, cardio is an inefficient way to burn fat. As a leisure activity, ROCK ON, but when your goal is fat loss, trending towards resistance training is going to be a better use of your time for 2 reasons.
One reason, as we mentioned, is resistance training gives you the “after-burn” effect (say it with the “movie trailer” voice - it’s fun) which elevates your metabolism for up to 36 hours after working out. This means you could work out every other day and have the metabolic effect compound over time. Running everyday is a thing of the past!
The second reason relying on cardio is futile is the fact that it does not build muscle. Muscle is a calorie burner. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn each day. Ballistic exercises like sprinting or kettlebell swinging along with traditional lifting exercises like push-ups and squatting build muscle. Add to the equation a few quality food choices and you’re setting yourself up to get lean and mean.
Not Eating Enough
One of the BIGGEST hurdles many of us who have been trying to lose weight struggle with is figuring out how much and what types of foods we should eat. Low carb, low fat, high fat, high protein… what’s right?
The first place we start with many of our clients is just making sure they're eating enough. A calorie deficit IS essential for dropping fat, however, starving yourself will work against you. A great place to start is just tracking your food in whatever way is convenient for you. Using an app, notebook or even taking pictures of your food are all effective ways to track what you eat.
After we know you’re eating enough, having protein, vegetables and healthy fats with each meal is an easy way to round out your diet. If more help is needed, consulting a professional would be a good idea.
Not Enough or Too Much Exertion
Doing the “right” amount of work to lose the fat is a sticky topic. Most people fall into 2 categories: they work too much or too little.
A go-go-go kind of person is going to do more work than is necessary whereas the person who’s timid or new might not do enough. What’s the solution? Get some kind of fitness monitor to track heart rate. Your heart rate is going to be in direct correlation with “work done.” If you’re newer to exercise, getting your heart rate into the 60%-80% of max range will probably feel intense. Over time, you’ll adapt and we predict that measurements will start moving towards your goal.
The same thing applies to the “over-achiever.” This person needs a heart rate monitor to tell them when to throttle back. Going pedal to the medal consistently will lead to burn out if other recovery measures are not taken (sleep, nutrition, stretching etc.).
The main take away here is to find a gadget that works for you. We use the MyZone system.
Not asking for Help
We all get help from professionals. Accountants, lawyers, and plumbers are helpful people to call when you’re not getting the results you want.
Why should fitness be different?
Asking for help with reaching a fat loss goal is what you should consider if you’re not getting the results you want. Hire a trainer for a handful of sessions. Try a trial program at a local gym. Any trainer or gym worth their salt will be happy to show you a few things to help you progress towards your goals.