Cardio alone will not get you to your fat loss goal. Once your nutrition is squared away, it is proper fat loss weight training that will help you strip unwanted fat off your body – if you do the right things.
Don’t: Turn Weight Training Into Cardio
Here is one of the great gym ironies: people try cardio to burn fat. They quickly hit a plateau far from their goal. Then they turn to weights, but end up turning their weight training back into cardio.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Don’t make the mistake of using high reps with really light weight and trying to move non-stop for the entire workout. That is cardio. The more you do the better you get and the less calories you burn.
Do: Use Weight Training to Make You Energy Efficient
When you lift weights you get stronger. This means you lift more weight, which burns more calories. When you lift weights, you gain lean muscle. This new muscle sucks up extra calories 24/7. When you go short and hard, you can rev up your metabolism long after the workout.
The better you get at weight training the, more calories you burn! Do the majority of your weight training sets for about 8-12 reps. Use a much weight as you can for the desired number of reps – with proper form and progressively add weight. Do rest between sets.
You don’t have to sit there for 5 minutes, but a short rest after a sets allows you to push more weight on the next one.
I typically have fat loss clients rest 20-30 seconds between exercises in a circuit and 30-45 seconds if they are alternating between two exercises (e.g. squat, rest 30-45sec, pull-ups, rest 30-45sec and repeat).
Don’t: Try to Spot Reduce
Don’t waste your time targeting your “problem spots” (you know what I mean) – it doesn’t work. Why? I could give you scientific reasons, but plain and simple observation is even more convincing.
Have you ever seen an obese person with a six-pack? The only people you see abs on are people who are lean everywhere.
Why did you know what I meant when I wrote “problem spot”? The reason is simple – it is always the same spots! If spot reduction really worked, everyone would have ripped abs and buns of steel.
Also, those fitness magazines at the grocery store would have headlines like “6 moves to skinny hands” instead of “12 moves to flat abs”.
When you try to spot reduce, you waste your time. You end up with a workout filled with small, easy exercises that don’t burn calories, build muscle or rev up your metabolism.
Do: Pick Fantastic Exercises
Fill your workouts with big, hard, multi-joint movements (i.e. single joint: biceps curl, multi-joint: chin-up). Yes you can do an ab exercise or a few sets of triceps extensions if you want. When possible, pick exercises that move your body through space (e.g. push-up vs. bench press).
Also, try to avoid sitting or lying down as it inevitably moves you to easier exercises. (See my article on “Twelve tips for a flat stomach that actually work” for details.)
Many bodybuilders, fitness competitors and fitness models use split routines. If you are an advanced physique competitor who has nailed your nutrition and has many hours to train (and supplement your training with endless hours of cardio), you can lose fat with body part splits.
However, if you are a busy person, this is not an efficient way to go.
Do: Full Body or Movement Splits
If you want to lose fat fast, stick with more of a whole body routine. This does not mean that you have to do every single exercise or muscle group in the same session. However, shoot for at least one upper body pulling exercise, one upper body pushing exercise and one leg exercise.
Moving away from body part split routines helps force you to pick fantastic exercises. You will also experience a much greater impact on your metabolism.
A workout with intense squats, pull-ups and push-ups will burn more calories and kick your metabolism into over-drive more than a whole workout wasted on just abs.