The topic is interestingly controversial because of the various views taken by different players within the fitness industry. You will hear fitness bloggers (aka self-proclaimed fitness professionals) that claim to have the perfect workout program designed for fat loss. Guaranteed results in 6 weeks! Our advice: be wary whenever you see someone trying to sell you the “secret” to fat loss or muscle building (whether it’s a workout program, some fat loss drink or supplement). Most of the time, they’re superficial advertising gimmicks created to take advantage of people looking for the quick fix. On the other hand, you have professional athletes that showcase their specific training methods and programs. In such cases, you need to understand that their program is designed for them specifically based on their abilities and goals. Copying them will often yield little results. And finally, you have experienced and knowledgeable trainers that understand that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all in fitness. Every individual is unique and has their strengths and weakness and therefore each needs a personalized program. Not a program taken off the shelf. Bottom line is be wise when selecting your source of information. Research the individuals background including their credentials & experience before delving into their pitch.
Having said that, I’m sharing my view on the most appropriate training methods to maximize fat loss specifically.
Methods of Training
This is big topic as it covers everything from bodyweight exercise, resistance bands, machines & free weights to kettlebells. If your goal is fat loss, resistance training needs to be at the core of your workout program. Often people shy away from Resistance Training in exchange for Steady State Cardio thinking that maximizing calories burned is their goal. In reality, most people want a body transformation which means losing fat AND gaining muscle. Muscles not only give your body a leaner and better shape, but they are help burn more fat.
Steady State Cardio (SSC)
This is cardio exercise (such as jogging or cycling) that is performed at a easy and steady pace. Its currently getting a bad reputation in the fitness community for supposedly being “ineffective”. I beg to differ. It is highly beneficial in regulating blood pressure, reducing bad cholesterol levels & burning calories/fat. However, what most people make the mistake of doing, is making this form of training the centre of their workout program. That will lead to fat loss but also muscle loss (known as “Muscle Atrophy”). Significant muscle atrophy increases the risk of injuries across the board.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT, as the name implies, involves performing selected exercises with very high intensity for short periods of time followed by short rest periods. This is extremely demanding on the body but can have excellent results in terms of retaining muscle and burning fat. Unfortunately, HIIT is the trendy term nowadays and everyone is using it without any consideration. I don’t believe HIIT is appropriate for everyone. If you’re a conditioned athlete or very fit, go for it as you have the technical ability and stamina to perform it well. Beginners should avoid HIIT and focus on Steady State Cardio and Resistance Training.
Ideally, everyone should include resistance training as the foundation of their program and then complement it with SSC and/or HIIT based on their abilities. Whichever training methods you select, always seek the advice of fitness professional. They will conduct a Fitness Assessments to gauge your abilities prior to prescribing a specific workout program. If you’re a beginner looking to lose weight, our advice is to start with light resistance training (to burn calories, maintain posture and build muscle mass) combined with steady state cardio (to burn calories). Needless to say, all the training in the world will not help you lose weight if you’re not managing your nutrition correctly i.e. staying in a calorie deficit (check out our previous blog post discussing calorie deficits).
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