When starting out on any fat loss journey it can be an absolute minefield searching for the exercise plan that is going to get you the best result. Should you be clocking up miles of long distance running or sprinting between lampposts? Should you join the local bodypump class or join the bodybuilders gym next door? Should you really be stressing about what exercise to do or just dust off your gym kit and get on with what you enjoy?
This little article will set you off in the right direction.
First of all let’s start with the basics of FATLOSS (note the FAT, not WEIGHT LOSS). If your goal is to shed a few pounds of scale weight, chances are your goal is FATLOSS. The main aim of your training & nutrition plan should be to create a caloric deficit. Ultimately this means you want to be burning more calories than you’re consuming. That’s not to say eating 300kcal a day and a couple of the latest juice detox drinks is the way to go but that’s a whole new subject on its own. Instead aiming to create a caloric deficit of 250-500 calories UNDER your total maintenance requirement is a safe starting point.
How can you create this deficit?
There are 2 ways; exercise and food intake. All calories are consumed from the stuff we all love, food. Calories are burnt doing every day activity such as getting up, going to work and of course, exercise. Let’s be honest no one wants to starve themselves of the foods we all love so let’s look at ways of burning calories with exercise and find out if the choice exercise really does matter.
Starting with the Types of exercise we have;
Which should you choose if FATLOSS is the goal?
Steady state cardio is the go to for most newbie’s starting out their journey. It’s easily accessible, what a lot of people see as the most effective and I’m sure plenty of people have had great results doing it. However it is not the biggest bang for your buck choice of exercise. To burn a substantial amount of calories plodding along on the treadmill takes a lot of time, and can be quite tedious for most (me included). That’s not to say steady state cardio shouldn’t have a place in your plan, if you genuinely enjoy it then go for it! At the end of the day the aim is to create a caloric deficit, and steady state cardio certainly does that.
Group exercise is another very popular choice of exercise; its sociable, good fun, fairly easily accessible and can be hard work (if you’re not one who hides at the back talking about Coro). There are literally hundreds of classes available now, and although some less intense than others. ALL can be great calorie burners IF you put the work in. The most effective part of group exercise in my opinion is the social side, which often means people keep going back, which means they stick to exercising consistently. Consistency is the key to success!
High intensity interval training (HIIT). This is one often overlooked purely for the fact, its bloody hard work! If you finish a HIIT session without feeling like your lungs could pop any minute, you’ve quite simply not done it properly. A true HIIT session should last no longer than 10-15 minutes, within these minutes your probably working for around 2 minutes in total. Are you going to burn 4- 500 calories in 2 minutes of work, probably not, but your body will be burning a shit load of calories for hours after. An extra tip- adding in 15-20 minutes of steady state cardio after HIIT can be very useful.
Resistance training is often seen by most as the stuff bodybuilders do, which is correct. However if your goal is fat loss, chances are you want to build a better body- bodybuilding. Adding resistance training into your plan will not all of a sudden turn you into the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, this takes years and years of serious hard work and dedication. However building a small amount of muscle tissue whilst burning the unwanted fat will give you the ‘toned’ and ‘lean’ look. At the same time that muscle will be burning more calories in a rested state, therefore creating a larger caloric deficit in day to day life. WIN WIN!
BUT does it really matter which one?
No, not really. All of the above burn calories, albeit at different rates. So including any or a mix of each will help create the caloric deficit needed to achieve your fat loss goals.
However, in my opinion and experience, resistance training done right is one of the biggest calorie burning fat loss tools in the exercise tool box. If you want efficient and sustainable results I would include resistance training as a core part of your plan but then include the stuff you enjoy. At the end of the day, consistency is KEY so find the exercise that you are most likely to stick to long term.
Thanks for reading,
Luke Tarbatt – Personal Training