Now that you have nutrition covered, it's time to look at exercise . While diet will determine whether you lose weight or not, exercise helps you maintain your lean muscle mass and burn a few more calories throughout the day so that you don't have to take your calorie intake as low as you otherwise would.
That said, not all exercise is created the same. Let's look at what you should know.
The Cardio Versus Weight Lifting Debate
When most people think fat loss, they instantly think hours of cardio training. This however, is not the most effective route to success.
While cardio can help you burn more calories, it doesn't do much too actually reshape your body, adding more muscle tone and definition plus raise strength levels.
Since most people not only want to lose weight but also look better as well, weight lifting is the superior option.
It will not only reshape your body, but it is the best form of exercise for not only boosting your metabolic rate in the hours that follow the workout, but also permanently increasing it due to lean muscle mass gains.
While you won't gain too much muscle weight while dieting, as someone just starting out, it's not completely uncommon to see some fat loss and muscle building for the first while.
So let's look at how to create an effective weight lifting workout routine.
Creating a Smart Weight Lifting Workout Routine
First, you need to select the type of workout to be doing. I would highly recommend that most people choose a full body workout. These workout set-ups require you to be in the gym the least amount total per week (2-3 days), they will boost your metabolic rate the highest since you work every muscle group in the body, and they allow for great strength gains.
You could do an upper/lower body set-up where you work half the body in each workout and do four workouts per week, but it is more time intensive so typically these are used by more advanced individuals or those who want to be in the gym frequently throughout the week.
A full body workout works great for fat loss purposes however for 90% of the population so is an excellent choice.
When choosing your exercises, think compound movements. This means that an exercise is going to work more than one muscle group at once, which means greater calorie burning, less time to finish the workout, and better fat loss results. All great things for your fat loss goals.
Compound exercises include:
If you can choose these most often, you will be creating an effective workout that's short on time but high on results.
You can add in a few additional exercises that are more isolated in nature (working only one muscle group), but this should be done at the end of the workout and only a few sets performed.
These include movements such as:
They aren't going to be as effective for fat burning, but if you want to do them, you can add them in lower amounts.
Reps, Sets, Rest
Finally, the last component to look at when designing your workout program is how you will structure the reps, sets, and rest periods.
You do want to make sure that you are lifting a pretty heavy weight that continues to challenge you. This means working in a rep range of around 8-12 reps. This allows for a heavy weight, but still keeps you creating the metabolic spike you desire for fat burning.
Perform 2-3 sets per exercise and aim for around 20-25 sets per workout session.
Avoid going beyond this because on a diet plan, you simply won't have the recovery reserves to support more total volume in your training and high levels of fatigue would start to set in.
Your workouts should only take 30-45 minutes if they are designed effectively.
Finally, you'll want to keep your rest periods on the slightly shorter side; however you should note that rest should never be so short that good form is sacrificed. Maintaining good form is always a must, so that is a top priority.
Most people will do best aiming for around 30-60 seconds of rest between each set. You may need to go to 90 seconds on some exercises, but avoid going too far beyond that.
So there you have the in's and outs of designing a proper strength training protocol.
Let's give you an example workout to get you started. Below you'll find two full body workouts. You would want to alternate between these in an ABA BAB set-up, taking one day off between each session (or two, depending on your recovery).
|Bench Press||8 - 10||3||90 seconds in between sets|
|Squats||8 - 10||3||90 seconds in between sets|
|Bent Over Rows||8 - 10||3||90 seconds in between sets|
|Dead Lifts||8 - 10||3||90 seconds in between sets|
|Shoulder Press||8 - 10||2||60 seconds in between sets|
|Biceps Curls||10 - 12||1||30 seconds in between sets|
|Triceps Extensions||10 - 12||1||30 seconds in between sets|
|Bicycle Crunch||10 - 12||1||30 seconds in between sets|
|Incline Bench Press||8 - 10||3||90 seconds in between sets|
|Leg Press||8 - 10||3||90 seconds in between sets|
|Horizontal Rows||8 - 10||3||90 seconds in between sets|
|Lunges||8 - 10||3||90 seconds in between sets|
|Pull Ups/Lat Pull Downs||8 - 10||2||60 seconds in between sets|
|Lateral Raises||10 - 12||1||30 seconds in between sets|
|Leg Extensions||10 - 12||1||30 seconds in between sets|
|Lying Leg Curl||10 - 12||1||30 seconds in between sets|
Choosing Your Cardio Wisely
Now, we do need to say a few words about cardio training. While strength training is the more effective exercise variation, that does not mean cardio should not be done at all.
When used properly, it can be a good tool to help enhance your weight loss results.
The key is keeping cardio sessions short, but intense. Interval training is the superior form of fat burning cardio to do, which is where you alternate an intense all-out burst of exercise lasting 15-60 seconds with an active rest period twice as long.
This is then repeated 5-10 times, starting with a 5 minute warm-up and ending with a 5 minute cool down.
Now, these sessions are very effective for fat loss, but they are also more advanced and intense on the body.
As such, I would recommend that you wait until you have at least 3-4 months of training under your belt before you begin them and only add them 1-2 times per week in addition to your strength training program.
If you attempted to do this form of cardio on all your off days from your weight training workouts, you would quickly burnout and over train.
For those who are just starting, try doing 20-30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio training where you work at a constant level. Often called steady state cardio, this type of exercise will allow you to keep the intensity levels constant and therefore, calorie burning constant.
This will help you build the foundation you need to then move on to the interval training protocols.
So there you have the key points to know about exercise for fat loss. In all of this, never neglect lifestyle activity as well.
The walk to the mail, the hour you spend gardening, the bike ride you took with your kids all of that counts as well. Sure, it's not formalized exercise, but it will still burn calories and add up. As such, it'll help move fat loss along.
Not all exercise has to take place in the gym. Remember that.
Finally, you must not forget about your lifestyle factors as well. Everything that you do on a day to day basis will influence the fat loss results you see.
It's not a 1 hour venture while you're in the gym; it's a 24 hour process where you constantly need to be mindful about what you are doing.
Two of the most important lifestyle factors to know about are stress and sleep.
Let's look at the key points.
First things first, you need to consider your stress levels. If you are leading a very stressful lifestyle, it will impact you in a number of ways.
First, you will be more likely to fall victim to emotional eating. We've all been there. You come home after a stressful day of work and find yourself rummaging through the pantry frantically, seeing what you can find.
But even more importantly, stress also causes the body to release a certain hormone called cortisol and this hormone will encourage fat to be accumulated in the stomach region.
It also promotes muscle mass loss.
Basically, it is a dieter's worst nightmare and must be avoided at all costs. But if you are really stressed out, it'll be surging through your veins.
So be sure that you are practicing good stress control techniques. Read a book, go for a long walk, call a friend do whatever you need to do to get it under control.
I highly recommend that you get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. If you can squeeze in 8 or 9 hours of sleep, even better.
This will not only make sure that you have enough energy to get through each day while dieting (since your energy will be naturally lower due to less fuel coming into your body), but it'll help to increase insulin sensitivity, which means you're less likely to convert carbohydrates you eat to stored body fat.
This is very important for fat loss progress and to also help prevent diabetes. Low insulin sensitivity (or insulin resistance as it's called) is one of the hallmark traits of diabetes development.
Then in addition to that, sleeping enough is also going to help keep your metabolism stronger as well, so that's another added plus to making sure you get your shut-eye.
Lack of sleep will cause your metabolism to plummet, making fat loss that much harder.
And, if you've ever woken up after a night of only 3-4 hours of sleep, you know that you are as ravenous as someone stuck on a deserted island for the last few weeks. You want to eat anything and everything in sight.
Without sufficient sleep, controlling your appetite becomes next to impossible, so this is another big problem in terms of the fat loss results you'll see.
So there are two key lifestyle factors that you need to make sure you keep in check. They really do have the ability to influence the results that you see.
So there you have everything that you need to know to begin your journey into fat loss successfully. Be smart with your approach. Don't rush it. And, go at your own pace.
Remember, rushing things and overwhelming your system is only going to lead to you falling off the bandwagon and going nowhere.
It's far better to take a little more time, move slowly, but stay the course. That is what will get you to the end of this race.
There will be slip-ups there always is, but it's how you deal with those slip-ups that determines whether you will carry on to see the end results you want.
. Success will be yours.
Need a Bit of Help?
Don't know where to start? Don't know which type of program to follow to reach your goals? Confused about what you should be eating? Let me help you. I can help you clear away the confusion and provide you with some expert advice on how to get started or what to do next. Just go to this page here and fill out the online form and hit submit. I'll get back to you as soon as I can (I won't collect your email address or spam you) - Blake
As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.
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