When you start thinking about a healthier lifestyle, you probably think something along the lines: ‘I need to lose weight’ or ‘I need to gain weight.’ Before you go any further start to think about losing fat and gaining muscle.
Today I’m going to focus on fat loss because that’s why the majority of my audience is interested in. However, if you’re interested in gaining muscle check out this article on weight lifting. It looks at weight lifting as a tool to lose fat (with a calorie deficit) but the information can be applied to muscle gain when you eat the right food.
If you go for an arbitrary goal of losing weight then it’s likely you’ll be happy to lose muscle if it means the scales read less than they did the previous week. This is not good for your health and it’s not good for your metabolism (as muscle helps you burn calories while resting).
These two ‘secrets’ (they’re not really secret but the rules of internet clickbait compelled me…) will help you to lose fat as quickly as possible. Of course, there’s no quick fix to fat loss. You have to be dedicated and willing to work hard so don’t think I’m giving you an easy way out.
1. Shorter workouts with higher intensity
Forget spending an hour and a half in the gym flitting between the treadmill, cross trainer and the same two strength machines. Time is not an excuse for not working out because you can get maximum results in just 20-30 minutes. The only caveat is that you have to work HARD. If you’re going to work for just half an hour then it needs to be intense.
I’m not going to dictate to you what you should be doing because it varies for everyone and you need to find something you enjoy. However, I can give you some inspiration and am more than happy to warn you off long sessions of steady-state cardio.
Alternating a tyre flip with a burpee, repeat for the length of your workout space and back (or more, find your 100%).
12 tyre slams with each arm using a sledge hammer or similar.
Step ups or toe taps on the side of the tyre.
Repeat 3-5 times.
If you still want to get on the treadmill, do it at the end of your workout and do some sprints (your HIIT workout beforehand will have burnt all your glycogen stores for energy, sprints at the end will burn fat). For example, jog 30 seconds, sprint 30 seconds. You only have to go for 10 minutes but make sure you are working to your maximum. Don’t forget to adjust your intervals as you get fitter.
2. Recovery days
You might know these as rest days but I think that’s misleading because this doesn’t mean you should be resting in bed all day in the name of fitness. We need recovery days to rebuild muscle, burn fat and reduce the stress on our bodies. These are so important for your sanity and fat loss.
On a recovery day you should still be active and this is where you should get in your low intensity cardio so go for a walk or a gentle bike ride. Take time to stretch or do a yoga class.
For me, three intense workout days and three recovery days works nicely. On that final day I’ll listen to my body and may go for a long, hard bike ride. I might even stay in bed all day, it’s about balance.
Listen to your body because everyone is different and I can’t give you a winning formula that works for you as an indivdual. Just try upping the intensity of your workouts and scheduling proper recovery days. I promise it’ll make a difference to the rate at which you lose fat, your muscle tone and your energy levels.
Do you prefer a long steady work out or a hard, fast one?