This is, without a doubt, the most frequently asked question around any gym or health club. Maybe you’ve asked this question to yourself, friends, or a personal trainer over the years. Perhaps you’ve wondered the answer to this question, but haven’t wanted to ask out loud. Well, in this blog post, I have the answer!
The short answer is: there is no “best way” to lose fat. There are several types of exercise that can contribute to fat loss, but each person will respond differently to a training program, so it is best to find what works best for you.
Here are some tried and true ways to improve fitness, while also torching fat. Keep in mind that before you begin any exercise program, especially those suggested below, that you consult with a qualified professional to get a proper assessment. You’ll want to know if you’re at risk for any injury before you ramp it up 10 notches; the goal is to get fit, not injured!
1) Interval Training: Research has shown that moderate-intensity or high-intensity exercise burns more overall calories as well as fat calories when compared to low-intensity exercise. Due to the higher demand on the body in high-intensity exercise, rest periods are required in between bouts of effort. Moderate/high-intensity bursts combined with rest periods are commonly known as Interval Training.
In addition, the more intense the intervals, the more fat lost after a workout. This is due to a process called Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC. EPOC is commonly known as “afterburn”. More afterburn occurs after high-intensity exercise than after low-intensity exercise.
TRY THIS: instead of running 1 mile at a low-intensity effort, try running 4 quarter-mile intervals at medium/high-intensity with a 2-3 minute break in between each.
2) Strength/Resistance Training: Exercises that use multiple muscle groups and are weight-bearing burn more calories per minute than exercises that use singular muscle groups and are not weight bearing. Think: squats, rows, walking lunges, step-ups, or push-ups instead of bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, leg press machine, or calf raises. In addition, the more lean muscle mass an individual has, the more calories she/he burns at rest. Strength training helps build lean muscle mass, and therefore helps with fat loss.
TRY THIS: Start by getting in the weight room, if you aren’t already! Perform full-body movements such as walking lunges with oblique twist, mountain climbers, squat jumps, or inverted rows. These exercises target many muscle groups and get the most calorie burn. For best results, perform 4-5 exercises for 10-12 reps for 3-5 rounds, with rest at the end of each round.
3) COMBO: This is the best of both worlds!!! Research shows that both high-intensity interval training and strength training are effective at fat loss, however, a combination of both has even better results.
Appropriately combining both medium/high-intensity cardio intervals with strength training into your fitness routine will likely give you the best shot at fat loss. Remember- don’t just randomly throw a workout together; be sure to alternate cardio and strength training days, especially if you are new to either.
TRY THIS: Two days per week, perform cardio intervals for 20 minutes, and 1 day per week, strength train for 30 minutes. Start with a 3 day per week program, and progress from there. As you become more fit, you will increase your intensity, duration, and number of sets/reps.
Michelle Densmore, CPT, LCSW is the owner of Lucky13Fitness, a personal training and fitness coaching company. Michelle uses her education and expertise in both the physical and mental health fields to help her clients reach their goals through behavior change. Michelle believes that "Training the Brain" is the key to change in any aspect of life. When she’s not training clients, running Bootcamp or teaching a TRX class, Michelle can be found training herself for a road race or triathlon. She loves to run, lift heavy things, travel, and spend time with her family. Michelle can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.