Hello Everyone, today’s article is a guest post from Matthew Rowe at MotivatePT who offer in-home personal training to help people lose weight and improve their health.
With studies showing that over 75% of us exercise specifically to lose weight, it seems like a fair question to ask. So what exactly is the best exercise for fat loss? It would be great if there was a simple answer – one single exercise, a holy grail of weight loss. Perhaps 100 sit-ups a day and we will melt away all that unwanted fat. But in actuality there is no single best exercise for burning body fat. Instead it has far less to do with the individual exercise (or exercises) that you perform and more to do with both the intensity and the consistency of your chosen exercise. So let’s take a look at the essential exercise components that will lead to successful and lasting weight loss.
Firstly, in order to lose weight we need to participate in regular aerobic or cardiovascular exercise. It really doesn’t matter whether you choose running, cycling, cross-training or anything else. They will all burn body fat just as effectively. What really matters is the way that you perform the exercises.
For many years it was assumed that working at a lower intensity for a sustained duration would be the best way to burn body fat. This quickly became known as the ‘fat-burning zone’ and was proudly embossed on every cardio-machine in gyms up and down the country. This led many personal trainers to instruct their clients to keep their heart rate within this magical zone if they really wanted to burn fat. But in actuality the fat burning zone is really a misconceived idea as your body will burn fat working at much higher intensities too. In fact, scientific evidence now shows that short bursts of much higher intensity exercise (which pushes the heart rate a lot higher) can actually increase the overall fat burning effect. This is because short bursts of high intensity exercise with short rests (commonly referred to as High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT for short) not only burn fat during the workout but dramatically increase your body’s post-exercise response to body fat oxidation. In simple terms this means your body continues to burn fat at a much higher rate even once you have finished your workout. This is good news for many of us who find it much easier to exercise for shorter periods of time throughout the week.
So next time you’re in the gym, don’t worry about which exercise machine to use, nor about trying to keep your heart rate in the fat burning zone. Whether it be rowing, cycling or running, simply choose the exercise that you enjoy the most and try adding some high intensity interval training to really improve your body’s fat burning capabilities.
Many people still consider weight-training to be nothing more than a way of bulking up and adding size. But in fact, resistance training has long been neglected by many as a way of actually slimming down. That’s because resistance training is key to improving your body’s natural ability to burn fat and to keep fat off. Lifting weights will actually give you a slimmer, harder and more toned physique.
Don’t worry, you certainly don’t need to be lifting giant olympic weights nor spend hours pumping iron – so forget about bulking up. Most of us simply don’t have the genetics to pack on large amounts of muscle. Resistance training instead helps to gradually increase your lean muscle mass and to give your body that toned, lean look. Muscle is highly metabolically active which means that it will help your body to burn fat more effectively. Even just a very small percentage increase in your lean muscle mass will help to improve your basal metabolic rate, thereby helping your body to burn fat more effectively whilst at rest. By adding resistance training into your exercise plan you will tone and harden your body whilst helping to speed up your body’s natural metabolism.
No matter which exercise you choose, you will only lose weight effectively if you stick with a regular program of exercise, every week. The odd sporadic workout here and there will do little to change your body shape or physique. So choose a program of exercise that includes both aerobic and resistance training and aim to train at least 5 times a week. Each workout need only be short (maybe just 25-30 minutes) but should be performed at as high an intensity as your fitness level will allow. Performed consistently, you will quickly notice the changes in your body shape.
Eating a Healthy Diet
Having now mastered the exercise and found the right program for fat loss, it is essential to also eat right for your body. You can do all the exercise in the world, but if you’re eating more than your body needs every day, you will still continue to store fat (and may even put more fat on). Start by making small changes to your nutritional intake rather than going on a specific ‘diet’. Smaller changes are more sustainable and in the long run more successful. Try to reduce your intake of refined sugar, processed foods and alcohol whilst replacing this with fruits, vegetables and fresh food prepared and cooked from scratch.
Don’t forget that if fat loss were simple, we could all lose weight at the drop of a hat. No matter which exercise plan you choose, it takes hard work and consistency to achieve and maintain your ideal physique.
About The Author
Matthew Rowe is Director of Training at MotivatePT one of the UK’s largest personal training providers. Supported by a national team of certified fitness trainers, the Company offer a range of cutting-edge fat loss programs to help clients achieve a fitter, slimmer and healthier physique.