WEIGHT LOSS SERIES: Exercises that Torch Fat

We’ve come to the end of my Weight Loss Series this year. I hope you learned something and, if weight loss is a goal of yours, I hope you took away a useful application for your life! For this last post, I wanted to discuss the role of exercise on weight loss. Let’s get this out of the way (although I think I’ve really harped on it enough):

You cannot out-train a bad diet.

When it comes to weight loss, food intake will be the #1 contributor for success. Check out my last Weight Loss post for more information on how I finally hit my goal weight after trying all the quick fixes in the book.

Here's Where Exercise Comes In

Exercise is absolutely essential whether you’re doing it for weight loss or not. Exercise grows new neurons by two-fold, boosts serotonin levels, improves mood, decreases anxiety, improves learning and memory, slows brain atrophy, kills cancer and cancer cells (by 50% in mice,) slows muscle atrophy, improves muscle function, activates anti-inflammatory genes, removes BPA and other chemicals, and it makes you look good!

What’s important is to make exercise a part of your routine in a meaningful way and enjoy the process. If you’d rather get a colonoscopy than hop on the treadmill for 30 minutes, find something else to do! Not everyone is a power lifter, or a distance runner, or a bendy yogi, but all of us will benefit from getting up and moving.

Now that we've set the expectations a bit, let's get to some workouts that are designed to shed weight.

1. Interval training

The number one training method the experts turn to again and again for weight loss is interval training. Interval training is any form of exercise where your heart rate spikes and then comes down repeatedly. This generally means going hard for a set interval of time (hence the name), followed by active rest, then going hard again.

Active recovery makes this work. You want your heart rate elevated the entire time, resting just enough to be able to repeat the spike workout. Here are a couple HIIT workouts you can knock out in 20 minutes!

  • Sprint 1 minute, walk 30 seconds (repeat 8-10 times)
  • 10 burpees followed by 30-60 seconds of rest (repeat 6-8 times)
  • High knees (30 seconds), rest (10 seconds), jump squats (30 seconds), rest (10 seconds) - repeat for 20 minutes
  • Wall sit (1 minute), immediately into push-ups (1 minute), rest (30 seconds) – repeat until failure
  • On a stationary bike:
  • 0:00 - 2:59 - Warm-up
    3:00 - 12:59 - 15 seconds @ 100%, 15 seconds @ 50% (for 10 minutes)
    13:00 - 15:00 - Cool-down

2. Plyometrics

Plyometric exercise involves explosive motions performed quickly; it’s sometimes called “jump training.” The explosive moves give you more bang for your buck because:

  • They're intense
  • They work several muscles at once
  • It only takes 20 minutes tops!

Examples of plyometric exercises include jump roping, standing box jumps, burpees, jumping lunges, and jumping jacks (get back to basics!)

3. Strength training with weights

Consider weight training the mother of all weight-loss techniques. It’s at the very top of the totem pole for weight loss and for preventing a host of injuries/diseases. BUT there are a few caveats we need to talk about.

First, you’ll burn fat but also gain muscle.

Many people who want to “lose weight” might actually be more interested in weight redistribution. This is putting weight in other areas (growing the leg muscles, for example) while trimming down abdominal fat. With this in mind, people who begin a strength training regime often lose no weight (or might even gain a bit!) but they start to notice that their clothes are fitting differently and that they’re feeling stronger and more energized.

Muscle weighs much more than fat which is why it's important to track photos of yourself, measurements, and how your clothes feel above what you see on the scale.

Weight Lifting increases resting metabolic rate.

Lifting weights has been shown to increase your resting metabolic rate, which means your body burns calories even when you're not working out. Building muscle means more muscle mass to churn through calories as you go about your day. It also means you can go harder next time, increasing your weight, and getting even more out of each workout.

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Keep in mind that HIIT cardio and plyometrics are very taxing on the central nervous system and should not be done all the time. I incorporate HIIT into my workouts 1-2 times per week. Additionally, I do steady-state cardio like jogging or skipping rope 2-3 times per week, usually the same day I lift weights.

Got questions? Leave them for me or contact me on social media. Happy to help you along your journey!