Fat loss, fat loss, fat loss. Everyone just seems to want to lose fat. Even my 15 year old ‘skinny’ cousin wants to lose fat.
But how do we do it quickly and effectively? Say for example you have this amount of weight to lose, is it better to go out for a run four times a week for 30 minutes or you’re better off getting a pair of 2kg dumbbell and do a couple of curls and presses? What about doing things like sprinting or running up a hill? Confusing isn’t it? Fear no more for today I am going to break it down to you and come up with a non-bias and diplomatic answer to who wins this fight.
Here we go…
Today we’ll be looking at three different training methods that can help you lose weight quickly and ultimately burn fat. Before we dive into each one of them I want you to read and understand this golden rule:
In order for you to lose weight, change your shape and/or achieve your fitness goals, the most important thing is your diet. What you put into your mouth. It doesn’t matter if you hit the gym for leg presses or run outside every single day for hours on end, if you don’t clean up your diet, you’re only wasting your time. If you want to lose weight, the easiest way is to keep what you eat in control. This means getting the junk out, cutting down on sugary drinks and having more whole natural foods, veggies and lean protein.
If that’s clear to you, and if you’re still interested in losing fat the most effective way, then let’s get into it!
Mr. Cardiozen Roundeygh Bloock (aka cardio)
Who is he? The one that involves running around your block, on a treadmill, on a bike or 20 minutes on the elliptical.
Sir Anaerof Intervalsay (aka high intensity interval training)
Who is he? The one that constantly changes speed and/or incline and thus, intensity. Can be done outdoors, sand dunes, or in the gym on your cardio machines.
Lady Pickyng Upda Weiths (aka weight training)
Who is she? The one that involves picking up some form of weights or your body weight.
Shall we break it down now?
Also known as Steady State Low Intensity Aerobic Training. Let’s stick with simply cardio. It’s the things you do on a treadmill, bike, elliptical or going out for a jog in the stadium or around your block. Apart from knowing how to press a couple of buttons (if you’re on one of those machines in the gym), you just need to know how to run. Unless you’re into running techniques and biomechanics, it’s downright straightforward. There’s so many ways to do cardio, you can go for a jog for thirty mins, hit the elliptical on level 3 for 20, or even the treadmill for an hour. You can’t mess something as simple as that.
Something good about cardio? It’s easy to do, there’s low to zero learning curve, and it’s fun to do it with a partner in a 10km running event. Your body can also go on and on with running until you use up all your energy stores, which trust me, takes a while.
The problem with cardio?
– It gets boring. It’s always fun in the beginning to strap on and hit the road but over time, it gets easier and your body will get used to it.
– It’s not the best type of training to do if you want to shape up. Yes you can lose weight easily doing cardio and that’s because you are burning loads of calories. If you’re eating less, your total calorie expenditure will be negative thus you will lose weight.
– It does not train your heart to deal with situations which involves rapid changes.
Cardio burns heaps of calories but it’s not an effective way of burning calories. One very simple reason? It does nothing to increase our Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), also know as the afterburn or metabolic rate. What the hell is EPOC? It’s the calories burned after the exercise, while you’re resting, working and doing things apart from exercise. Say for example you burn 300 calories running on the treadmill. Once you step off the machine, your body stops burning.
There’s a lot of readings and studies when it comes to cardio and fat loss, if you’re interested to know more you can check out this extensive research review on PN.
High Intensity Interval Training
High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT in short is possibly the best way to effectively burn calories. Why? Let’s say it again – EPOC! You burn a crazy amount of calories after the workout which of course, raises your metabolic rate. You can read all about metabolism and metabolic rate here.
Interval trainings forces your body to adjust to changes because you’re constantly doing a different thing each time. You’ll be sprinting and walking, sprinting again and walking and then you run up that heartbreak hill and then go downhill again. This confuses your heart, forcing it to operate outside it’s norm and in time, it’ll get used to environmental stressors making it not only healthy but efficiently healthy.
Ultimately, all this change increases your post exercise energy consumption and thus burns more calories even after you’re done with the workout. One study which is worth mentioning is done by the University of New South Wales (alma mater baby!). It shows that subjects who did HIIT for twenty minutes burned three times more fat then those who exercised at a continuous, regular pace for 40 minutes. I don’t know about you but burning three times more at half the time? I’m so in.
The problem with HIIT?
– Your body can’t do this forever, unlike cardio which allows you to go on and on for a while before you collapse and cry. 20 minutes is enough for me.
– Your body will hate you.
Anything you do that involves lifting weights or your body weights (e.g. push ups, squats, dumbbell presses etc.) will be classified as weight training. Now weight training effects your metabolism in one simple way – the more muscle you have the higher your metabolic rate and the more calories you burn during and after the workout. But what about weight training in comparison to intervals and cardio in reducing fat?
A recent study in the Journal of Applied Physiology took 196 volunteers and placed them in an aerobic training group, resistance training group and an aerobic and resistance training group. The results? The aerobic training group lost the most weight (an average of 1.76kg) BUT they lost the least amount of fat (1.66kg). The aerobic and resistance training group lost the most amount of fat (2.44kg) while the resistance training group gained the most muscle mass.
There’s one thing I learned from this. The best way to lose fat is to combine both cardio and weight training. Doing cardio alone will make you lose weight (we’re targeting our fats here…).
What kind of weight training is best for this? I would say doing compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, rows, push ups etc. – things that require you to move more muscle at one time. Doing it in a circuit without stopping will also keep your heart rate up, and of course burns more calories.
Oh and maximum EPOC post workout? You bet. According to one of my favourite fitness bloggers, Steve of Nerd Fitness, his review on Alwyn’s Cosgrove Hierarchy of Weight Loss mentioned that you can reportedly burn calories up to 38 hours post exercise. That’s why Lady. Pickyng Upda Weiths is friggin’ awesome.
And The Winner Is…
My decision is… You should be doing something according to your goals, fitness levels and how much time you have in your hands. They’re all pretty solid training methods and although I tend to skew a bit on Weight Training and HIIT, cardio is not too bad especially if it’s your first time doing it. More importantly though, you should be eating right and what goes into your mouth is the most important factor in fat loss. Whatever comes after that is some sort of a supplement.
If you have a lot of time in your hand and if this is the first time you’re starting any sort of physical activity – go cardio. If you only have 30 minutes a day to spare and you want to shape up fast – go HIIT. If you’re thinking long term and want to improve your physical and physiological health – go cardio or HIIT and weight training. If you’ve been doing cardio all along, try and change the speed a little bit and increase your intensity. Sir Anaerof Intervalsay will be happy. If you find yourself getting bored just running, hit the weights machine. There’s more benefits to weight training than you think there is.
What am I doing? I’m a master of balances. I believe in doing everything in balance so I do all three. I limit my cardio to about 3 times a week, HIIT 2 times a week and weight training 3 times a week. It seems to work for me for overall long term health so find something that works for you.
And I have to say this – I just want you to be healthy and happy, no matter what you choose. Use this article as a starting point and choose something that works for you.
Now let’s discuss.
Which of these three is your favourite training method?
Do you do them all or do you tend to do just one?
How do you feel about these training methods?
How do you think these training methods work for you and your life?
Answer these by leaving a comment below! I would love to hear from you.
That’s it from me for today. Have a fabulous weekend. :)