Have you ever been in the following situation?
You feel like you’re giving 110% in the gym, you’re doing cardio, and you’re eating clean…but you’re still a bit soft in the middle. What gives?
Well, what many people don’t know about getting really lean is it is really nothing more than a slow accumulation of doing a bunch of little things right. If you do only some of them right, you probably won’t get there.
At its core, all effective weight loss methods do two–and only two–things:
1) They limit the amount of food you eat.
2) They increase the amount of calories and fat you burn.
#1 is simple enough (stick to your meal plan precisely), and #2 is a matter of speeding up your metabolic rate. In this article, I want to talk more about #2.
Studies such as those conducted by Laval University, East Tennessee State University, Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of New South Wales have shown that shorter, high-intensity cardio sessions result in greater fat loss over time than low-intensity sessions.
Research has also shown that high-intensity training is more muscle-sparing than low-intensity cardio.
Therefore, I recommend doing HIIT for all cardio, and keeping your sessions 20-30 minutes long. Here’s how it works:
- You start your workout with 2-3 minutes of low-intensity warmup.
- You then go all-out, as fast as possible, for 30-60 seconds (if you’re new to HIIT, 30-second intervals will be plenty, but you want to try to work toward being able to do 60-second intervals).
- You then slow it down to a low-intensity recovery period for the same period as your high-intensity interval. Again, if you’re new to HIIT, you may need to extend this rest period to 1.5-2 times as long as your high-intensity interval. If you’re still out of breath and your heart is racing, you’re not ready to hit the high-intensity again.
- You repeat this cycle of all-out and recovery intervals for 20-30 minutes.
- You do a 2-3 minute cool-down at a low intensity.
You can apply the HIIT style to any type of cardio that you would normally do. You can head outside and walk and sprint, or you can hop on the elliptical trainer or recumbent bike to get it done.
If you’re familiar with any of my work, you know I’m a big fan of lifting heavy weights. Well, among the many benefits of lifting heavy is the fact that it helps speed up fat loss.
A study published by Greek sports scientists found that men that trained with heavy weights (80-85% of their one-rep max, or “1RM”) increased their metabolic rates over the following three days, burning hundreds more calories than the men that trained with lighter weights (45-65% of their 1RM).
Another study showed that the increased energy expenditure after lifting heavy weights is mainly derived from burning fat (and researchers weren’t sure why).
So hit the weights and hit them hard if you want to jack up your metabolic rate and in turn, speed up your fat loss.
And if you want to score extra points, focus on compound lifts like squats and deadlifts, because these are the types that burn the most post-workout calories.
Doing no exercise for two days in a row can slow your metabolic rate down.
Instead of training for 5 or 6 days straight and then taking two days of complete rest, train 3 or 4 days and then take a day off, followed by another 3 – 4 days of training.
Instead of lifting for an hour or so followed by 30 minutes of cardio, split them up. Lift in the mornings and do your cardio after work, or vice versa.
Not only will this rev up your metabolic rate twice per day, keeping it constantly elevated, it can help preserve muscle.
Researchers from RMIT University worked with well-trained athletes in 2009 and found that “combining resistance exercise and cardio in the same session may disrupt genes for anabolism.” In laymen’s terms, they found that combining endurance and resistance training sends “mixed signals” to the muscles. Cardio before the resistance training suppressed anabolic hormones such as IGF-1 and MGF, and cardio after resistance training increased muscle tissue breakdown.
Several other studies, such as those conducted by Children’s National Medical Center, the Waikato Institute of Technology, and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland), came to same conclusions: training for both endurance and strength simultaneously impairs your gains on both fronts. Training purely for strength or purely for endurance in a workout is far superior.
Cardio before weightlifting also saps your energy and makes it much harder to follow tip #2.
Liquid calories are a disaster when you’re cutting.
They’re way too easy to consume when you don’t even have an appetite, they don’t fill you up when you do, and most are full of sugar, which keeps your insulin spiked (which in turn leads to more fat storage).
Instead of drinking juice, sodas, sugary teas or coffee drinks, etc., stick to water, plain tea (or sweeten it with a natural sweetener like stevia or Truvia), black coffee, or other no-calorie beverages.
If you’re planning on losing weight or are currently struggling with it, try incorporating each of the tips above. As long as your diet is in the right place, your body won’t be able to do anything but melt away the fat!
Have these fat loss strategies worked for you? Have any that you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below!
+ Scientific References
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- Farinatti PTV, Castinheiras Net AG. The effect of between-set rest intervals on the oxygen uptake during and after resistance exercise sessions performed with large-and small-muscle mass. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25(11):3181-3190. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e318212e415
- Fatouros IG, Chatzinikolaou A, Tournis S, et al. Intensity of resistance exercise determines adipokine and resting energy expenditure responses in overweight elderly individuals. Diabetes Care. 2009;32(12):2161-2167. doi:10.2337/dc08-1994
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- Trapp EG, Chisholm DJ, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. Int J Obes. 2008;32(4):684-691. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803781
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