There are plenty of “how to lose body fat” articles around the internet and truthfully they pretty much all sound the same. Most of them comprise of ideas we already know; like exercise more, eat this and don’t eat that, and calorie consuming estimations.
Most of these ideas are either too vague or way too involved. We all know to exercise more but what type of training is best? Does anyone really know how many calories they actually use and consume every day of their lives? Now I am not going to disregard your diet as an unnecessary component in fat loss, it is key, but it also must work synergistically with your training and some of the traditional fat loss methods are either ineffective or inefficient.
In this article I am going to share some fat burning tips that are not your typical dietary diatribe. Rather, these tips relate more specifically to effective training and mindset with scientific studies to back them up.
Weight Training vs. Cardiovascular Training
We all hear that small sentence echoed by people who desire to drop a few pounds, “I have to do cardio.” First off cardio is such an open-ended term however for the vast majority of people that means jumping on a machine, watching TV or flipping through a magazine and spending at least an hour going at a comfortable pace. Sure you may end up in a puddle of sweat but the amount of perspiration does not correlate to the amount of fat lost.
One study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that a very basic resistance (weight) training routine consisting of only one set of nine exercises performed three times per week produced an increased of muscle and prevented increases in fat mass and body fat percent after six months. The increase of lean body mass (muscle) allows the body to have a greater potential to utilize energy to fuel these new muscles. More muscle means more fat that can be burned.
If you enjoys doing cardio routines then by all means keep them in your program however do not neglect the power of a weight training program if optimal body composition is a goal of yours.
Don’t Just Move, Move Fast!
Talking aerobic conditioning or cardio again we find possibly another way to take that long-slow session on the bicycle at the gym and make them more efficient and effective. When thinking about aerobic or cardiovascular training it may be best if we focus not on the duration of the workout but rather the intensity.
In a recent study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Metabolism found that two minutes of hill sprints three times per week elicited similar VO2 consumption when compared to three times per week of 30 minute of continuous exercise workouts.
VO2 consumption post workout is referred to as EPOC (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). Simply stated: the greater the EPOC the greater the fat burning. If you are able to elicit the effect of a 30 minute steady state cardio workout in only two you can save much more time and use it for other areas of your life. It is easy to cast out 30 minute sessions but everyone can do a two minute session three times a week.
Swing a Bell
I might be a little biased since I use kettlebells as a tool for training not only strength but also for conditioning, however I do feel it is a superior method for fat loss when compared to most steady state cardiovascular sessions. We have already established that the more lean muscle mass one has the higher the ability to burn fat for fuel. Kettlebells are a great tool for adding lean muscle mass to your body and the added benefit is their ability to produce a great cardiovascular workout session similar to interval training. They could be the best of both worlds.
One study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that ten minutes of kettlebell swings broken up in intervals elicited the same effect as a ten minute treadmill run. The extra underlying benefits of kettlebell training also include muscle building (stated above) and it can be much more forgiving on the knee and hip joints where the impact in treadmill running can cause excessive stress to these joints.
Make Your Own Meals
I know I said I was not going to talk about diets, and I am not necessarily, but bear with me because this tip could lighten you up and make your wallet heavier at the same time.
One slight drawback in my life that I have from owning my own gym is not having a normal work shift. There are plenty of days where I start work early and end late. It is very easy for me to sleep as much as I can and avoid packing anything to eat with the intention of going to the store to purchase something that could be considered healthy. For the normal work force employee it may be common to have their employer spoil them with catered food to keep them productive; most of the time it is going to be of the fast food variety. We all have the best of intentions and eating food prepared by someone else can be quite a treat but if this protocol is frequently practiced them it could mean bad news for the waistline.
One cross-sectional study in Nutrition Review compared body weight and eating at home versus dining out. Though the study did mention that there should be future studies comparing different out of home restaurants (i.e. fast food and finer dining establishments) it did find a positive association between out-of-home eating and body weight. We all know that fast food is not the best choice for a healthy body but eating at fine dining establishments may only be marginally better options where our waistlines are concerned. Eating out is a nice experience but it might be best when done in moderation.
Take it a Little More Personally
The bottom line to losing weight comes down to the individual. Sure you can tell yourself and the people around you your goals and aspirations but we are the only ones that can help ourselves. Taking complete control of the situation and actualizing the goal is proven effective and one way you can do this is to track your progress.
This strategy worked well with adolescents looking to change their body composition for the better. A study published by The American Journal of Health and Behavior found that when adolescents used self regulating tactics (goal setting and tracking progress) they were more inclined to stick with their physical activity goals. We all can agree that if we are able to stick with something positive in our lives than good things happen.
In the world of strength, conditioning and fat loss there are plenty of different ways to go about achieving your goals; what may work for some might not work for others. The best thing to do is to clearly define your goals, write them down and find the most effective, efficient and enjoyable way to get you where you want to be.
Hazell TJ, Olver TD, Hamilton CD, Lemon P WR. Two Minutes of Sprint Interval Exercise Elicits Similar 24 hour VO2 as 30 Minutes of Continuous Endurance Exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2012 Jun 15.
Washburn RA, Kirk EP, Smith BK, Honas JJ, Lecheminant JD, Bailey BW, Donnelly JE. One set resistance training: effect on body composition in overweight young adults. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2012 Jun;52(3):273.