If you’re reading this, chances are you’re worried about carrying a couple of extra kilos right now. Perhaps you’ve tried to lose the excess weight but struggling to shift the scales. The most important thing to remember is fat loss is key when we are talking about improving overall health. The name of the game is body composition, or fat loss, not weight loss necessarily. We want to maintain muscle mass because muscle is metabolic and anti-aging, however, it does weigh more than fat. Meaning you should monitor your progress in other ways like DEXA scans, how you look/feel in clothes and waist/hip circumference measurements.
Exercise for Fat Loss
If you haven’t exercised in a long time then it’s important to note to start small and gradually increase the intensity over the weeks that follow. The goal of healthy weight loss is to create a life-long lifestyle change.
Research shows that a combination of cardiovascular and resistance exercise is the best way to promote fat loss for those looking to lose weight.
There are two main types of cardiovascular exercise that should be used in your weekly fat loss exercise plan depending on your personal situation – continuous aerobic exercise and/or interval training. To promote fat loss, it is recommended to complete 3-6 days per week for 30-60 minutes per day at 70-85% HR max. Some examples of aerobic exercise include:
- elliptical trainer
- high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- low-intensity interval training (LIIT)
The goal for using resistance exercise is to increase lean muscle mass and therefore increase the bodies resting metabolic rate, which literally means you burn calories while you sleep or sitting on your bum!
When promoting fat loss we want to utilize large muscle groups in a compound fashion that replicate activities you do daily. This will burn the most amount of calories and encourage overall fat loss in the body. A great way to do this is by using circuit training where a combination of exercises are performed in sets and are either time or repetition-based. A good place to start in my opinion is bodyweight exercises as there is less chance of injury if you plan on exercising without a personal trainer present to monitor your form. This should be completed 2-3 times per week for 30-60 minutes per day and should be moderately difficult. Once the circuit starts feeling easier you should switch up the routine with new exercises to encourage progressive improvement in your fitness, keep things interesting and avoid fat loss plateaus.
There are a few examples of resistance training that should be considered, such as:
9. free weights – deadlifts, barbell (BB) press, dumbbell (DB) step-ups
10. weighted machines – leg press, abdominal crunch, seated row
11. bodyweight exercises – lunges, squats, leg raises
Example of a Fat Loss Exercise Plan
Monday – cardio 30-60mins
Tuesday – cardio 30-60mins
Wednesday – circuit training 30-60mins
Thursday – circuit training 30-60mins
Friday – cardio 30-60mins
Saturday – cardio 30-60mins
Sunday – rest
How Much Weight Loss is Considered Healthy?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that those looking to lose weight healthily should expect a 5-15% loss of their total body weight in the initial stages. Meaning that we should be aiming for 500g to 1kg weight loss per week as a realistic and healthy target. Anything more than that risks losing muscle mass, promoting nutrient deficiencies, and causing metabolic imbalances which may trigger rebound weight gain.
So to sum things up as you can clearly see that basically, any exercise is better than no exercise at all. The main things to take away are you should be aiming for a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training to target total body fat. The other important thing to take away today is to make sure the exercise you are doing is moderately difficult or challenging. You should focus mostly on consistency, rather than the numbers on the scale, as a life-long lifestyle change is the most important aspect of successful fat loss and weight management. This also includes improving your nutrition (including ensuring adequate calories are being consumed every day) and optimizing other areas of health that often can negatively impact weight loss efforts such as chronic stress, hormonal imbalances, toxicity, and poor gut health.
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