Recently I have been writing a “How to use X” series of blogs. I have covered everything from how to use equipment such as the foam roller and the bike and how to set-up a home gym.
Today we discuss the “how to–ness” of enacting that knowledge to achieve your fitness goals — specifically your fat and weight loss goals.
I get it. There seems to be a virtually never-ending waterfall of weight loss information available. Headlines tell us to “do intervals to burn fat,” “do strength training to change your shape,” “the kettlebell is the key to a shredded body,” “nutrition is the key to weight loss,” “sleep is the key to better health,” etc. It is almost impossible to decipher what information to follow and what to ignore!
The truth is, there is a kernel of truth to much of the information, but no one “thing” is the answer. It is the mix — the intersection — of fitness variables such as cardio, nutrition, sleep, strength training, etc. that counts. Plus, everyone’s “mix” will be different!
The key variables are interval cardio workouts, strength training, nutrition, rest and recovery, and sleep.
With weight loss (especially fat loss), it is the sum total of your lifestyle choices that counts, so my 7-day plan includes killer interval workouts AND time for meal prep, sleep, and recovery, as well as workouts aimed at de-stressing!
Sample week in short
An “extra sleep and recovery day”
Strength- and cardio-based minute intervals
De-stress with yoga and/or Pilates!
Cardio-based pyramid intervals
The week in detail
Tabata is a method of interval training. One Tabata takes 4 minutes, which is made up of 8 sets of 20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of complete rest. After one 4-minute Tabata set, rest for 1 minute and move on to your next exercise. Literally any exercise can be made into an interval. Both cardio and intense strength exercises can be made into Tabatas. Today focus on cardio — we’ll do strength tomorrow! Think mountain climbers, high knees, bum kicks, burpees, or skipping. After a 5-minute warm-up do 4-6 Tabatas. Cool down.
AMRAP stands for "as many rounds as possible." With AMRAPs, you aim to fit as many cycles of a circuit as possible within a set timeframe. The faster you get through the reps of each exercise, the more times you will complete the entire circuit in the given timeframe.
For this workout include strength and cardio exercises. Warm-up for 5 minutes. For 10 minutes do as many rounds as you can of 10 push-ups, 10 lunges on each leg, 12 bent-over rows, and 10 jumping jacks. Rest for 1 minute. Repeat 2-4 times.
Wednesday Sleep and recovery day
Both sleep and recovery are KEY for weight and fat loss!
Thursday Minute intervals
With minutes you don’t count reps. You do each exercise as many times as you can within 1 minute. After you warm up do 1 minute of a “push” exercise (eg, push-ups), 1 minute of a leg exercise (eg, squats, lunges), 1 minute of a “pull” exercise (eg, pull-ups, band reverse flyes, bent-over rows), and 1 minute of another leg exercise (eg, squat pulses, squat jumps, step-ups, bridges).
Then do 2 minutes of core — think planks, V holds, side planks, etc.
Finish with 3 minutes of intense cardio such as running, skipping, jumping jacks, stairs, or rowing.
Beginners repeat the cycle twice. Intermediate exercisers repeat 3 times. Advanced exercisers do 4 sets.
Friday De-stress with yoga and/or Pilates!
Stress is the arch nemesis of fat loss — especially abdominal fat. Plus, working your core with Pilates or yoga will help you stand taller. The taller you stand, the better your midsection looks!
Saturday Pyramid intervals
Pick a cardio activity — anything that gets your heart rate up. Any cardio machine, running or walking outside, swimming, dancing, aerobics, etc all work. Warm-up for 5 minutes with a moderate version of your chosen activity. Then do the following pyramid: 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy, 2 minutes hard, 2 minutes moderate, 3 minutes hard, 3 minutes moderate, 4 minutes hard, 4 minutes moderate, 5 minutes hard, 1 minute easy, and finally 5 minutes hard.
Cool down for 5 to 10 minutes.
Sunday Meal prep!
Want to lose weight? EAT BETTER! Instead of exercising on Sunday use the time to rest your body and prep your food for the week!
First, all exercise is beneficial for your overall health, BUT not all exercise will cause your body to blast fat — especially abdominal fat; you can’t walk aimlessly on the treadmill and expect to become a lean mean fighting machine!
Next, to lose fat you have to strength train — to increase muscle mass and thus your metabolism — and do intervals. Interval training requires alternating between high- and low-intensity bouts of activity, which places a high metabolic demand on the body, burns lots of calories in a short time, produces a high EPOC (post-workout calorie burn), increases mitochondrial growth (mitochondria help burn fat), and improves fitness.
Last, unless you have impeccable genetics or are a 15-year-old boy, to decrease your body fat — especially around your midsection — you have to get quality sleep, moderate your stress level, and, most critically, pay attention to nutrition. I am sorry to sound like Cruella de Vil, but no amount of fat-blasting workouts will shed those extra pounds if you eat poorly.