It takes hard, smart workouts and timely nutrition to burn fat and lose weight. Over-training with longer and longer workouts are not better for you and can leave you leave you tired, frustrated and ill.
If you are at a fat loss and weight loss plateau, here are 5 steps to start making progress again:
Note: Always take at least 1 day off each week from regular workouts. Moderate walking on days off is okay (15-30 minutes).
1) Weight often comes off easily at the beginning of a workout program. But then your body adapts to your workouts. When this happens, you need to vary your workout routines and intensity.
Do different lifts for the different body parts, such as substituting bench presses with stability ball dumbbell presses or doing step-ups instead of lunges. And, a shorter, more intense 30 minute full-body circuit weight workout will work better than a 1 hour weight workout when you are trying to burn body fat and lose weight.
A circuit workout is one in which you do one exercise after the other with little or no rest between exercises. Also, change up your cardio routines such as rotating sprint intervals, stair-stepper intervals or bodyweight cardio intervals. Keep interval cardio sessions at 20 minutes.
Research and evidence proves that doing these types of short workouts (short bursts) will burn more calories and fat during and after your workout. Exercise Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) causes your body to burn more calories and fat after a tough workout. Your body has to work harder to get back to its pre-exercise state.
For instance, athletes in speed and power sports are usually very cut and lean because most of their exercises are done with intervals at full speed.
Doing a strength workout with supersets also work well to burn fat. You would pair two non-competing exercises and do them back-to-back without rest between exercises. For instance, you could do a set of squats followed immediately by shoulder presses. Bench press followed by rows is also a good superset. This allows you to do more work in less time because the opposing muscle group rests while you are working the opposite muscle group.
Finally, rotate heavy and light lifting days to keep your body guessing.
2) It is more important to burn body fat and lose inches than it is to lose weight. The goal is to transform your body to lean (to keep lost weight off for good). If you just lose weight without strength training, you will still have high body fat. And, it is highly likely that you will regain this weight and have even more body fat (weight cycling).
Have your body fat percentage checked and your circumference measurements done by a trainer to see how much fat and inches you have lost. Do this body fat checkup once a week. Muscle weighs more than fat, so your body could be shrinking. Don’t worry, the weight loss will take care of itself.
3) Longer workouts too often lead to over-training, injuries, illness and stalled progress. Exercise was meant to fun and productive!
An intense 20-minute interval cardio session at 90%-95% maximum heart rate will give you more fat loss and heart-health benefits than a 1-hour cardio session at 65% maximum heart rate. Too many long, slow cardio sessions will waste away your muscle mass and hinder your fat burning potential.
4) Here are two very effective, fat burning exercise routines:
a. Plyometric exercises are very intense and effective fat burners. Examples would be squat jumps and lateral cone hops. You should perfect jumping and landing techniques to avoid injuries.
b. Metabolic circuit training is an advanced form of high intensity exercise (strength circuits and interval cardio circuits). Metabolic circuit training is a popular and effective method for sports teams. If you play on a rec league basketball, soccer or flag football team, metabolic circuit training would be ideal. You would also lessen your chances of injury. Many weekend warriors get hurt because they aren’t in condition to play a sport at full speed.
5) You need to know your basal metabolic rate-BMR (how many calories your body would burn each day if you did nothing). Base your daily caloric intake on your BMR, activity level and goals. You don’t need to strictly count calories but you need a good idea of how much too eat.
If you don’t eat enough (severe calorie restriction) for too long, your body will store fat because it thinks you are starving. And, you will gain weight even on the days you work out really hard if you take in more calories than you burn.
Exercise smarter, not harder. Eat smarter, not necessarily less.