Training for fat loss - Result Fitness Durham

Training for fat loss

Hi everyone!

Following our hypertrophy blog is this guide on training for fat loss. As you continue reading, please keep in mind that there are many ways to Rome – and only you know what is most efficient for you. There are several different components to fat loss, and you might need to change more than your training in order to see the results you want. If you feel stuck, ask an instructor for tips and further guidance.

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Training for fat loss

Weight loss equals fat loss?

A common misconception when trying to lose weight is the idea that a pound is a pound, but in reality it is not that simple. The body consists of many different components: your skeleton, soft tissues like muscles, and organs, fat, and water.

People who say they want to lose weight or tone up often mean that they want to reduce body fat. Toning up means enhancing your muscles by reducing body fat percentage – but in reality, it also requires you to maintain or increase your muscle mass. A common weight loss strategy is to adopt a strict diet combined with a lot of cardiovascular training, and sure, this approach will result in weight reduction. However, this reduction comes from from losing fat and muscle tissue.

Ideally, you want to minimise the amount of muscle mass lost whilst dieting because:

1) Muscles are important both for athletic performance and everyday functioning (lifting your son/ daughter from the floor, carrying heavy boxes),

2) Strong muscles play a crucial part in injury prevention and pain relief,

3) Muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain compared to fat tissue and will therefore help you burn more calories, and

4) As a bonus, you will look better and more ‘toned’.

Therefore, it is beneficial to maintain your muscle mass as much as possible when you wish to lose weight – or reduce body fat!

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Resistance training for fat loss

Cardiovascular training is known as an efficient road to weight loss. However, only focusing on cardiovascular activities means your body begin to use muscle tissue as fuel during exercise. It is true that cardiovascular exercise burn more calories per time unit, but in cardiovascular exercise there is not a very high need for a lot of muscle mass and thus you will end up losing muscle. When you incorporate some resistance training into your schedule you are telling your body “I need these muscles to get through the day” and by doing so your body starts looking elsewhere for fuel – it starts to burn fat instead. [1]

Image from Google Images

 

Ditch the scale

Incorporating a resistance programme might not result in any changes on the scale; you may even find yourself gaining a little weight. Before you panic and become the new king or queen of the treadmill, think about this:

Muscles weigh something, just as fat does. Losing 1 kg of fat while gaining 1 kg of muscle does not affect the scale – but it will affect the way you look. Similarly, gain more muscle than you lose fat and you will be looking at an increase in weight.

Do not rely on the scale to reflect your progress; if your jeans are less tight than they were a month ago and you have gained ‘weight’, it’s likely that the extra weight is not fat. Instead, focus on how you look in the mirror. If you want to be specific, taking measurements and pictures every few weeks can be a good way to track your progress.

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Afraid of the bulk? Ladies, this one is (especially) for you….
  1. Training specifically for fat loss and training to put on muscle mass are separate things and the structure of the training programmes will be different. Resistance training will not suddenly turn you into a ‘bulky’ woman with shoulders so broad you cannot get through the door and legs that don’t fit into your skinny jeans. Furthermore, when you are wanting to reduce your fat percentage you will be eating quite different compared to someone looking to increase muscle mass.
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    If you are one of the very few women whose genes allow you to put on muscle more easily, the change will not happen overnight: if you feel like you are beginning to look big, it can be easily reversed by changing the way you train. As with anything, increasing muscle mass to the point where you look ‘bulky’ takes a lot of time, dedication, hard work, specific training, and a lot of food.
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  2. Girls produce very little testosterone, so gaining and maintaining a large amount of muscle mass is much tougher for females than it is for males.
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  3. And last, but not least, remember that 1 kg of muscle demands less ‘space’ than 1 kg of fat – meaning it is possible to gain weight but at the same time look smaller.
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So, I only need to spend time in the gym to shed fat?

Spending time in the gym is crucial and training will get you a long way, but your diet is equally important and you need to spend some time in the kitchen too. Weight loss and reduction of fat percentage is best controlled and maintained through your diet choices. [2] There is no need to be super strict with your diet, but you might want to make a few simple and consistent changes like avoiding processed foods and eating more vegetables. Burning calories at the gym every day will help you reach your goal, but not if you compensate by eating away your deficit every evening. However, too big a deficit makes it hard to add muscle and will also make it harder to push yourself during your training sessions.

Image from Google Images

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Cardiovascular training

You should incorporate some cardiovascular training. Cardiovascular exercise is very important as it trains the most important muscle of them all; the heart. Cardiovascular exercise will also help you stay lean, especially if you opt for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

Since cardio burns more calories per time unit compared to resistance training, it is a great way of burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Therefore, if you are in a hurry, it may be a good idea to choose a high intensity cardio session over a resistance session.

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Now, the specifics

Feeling a little overwhelmed? Read below to find out exactly what you need to do:

  1.    Do resistance training 2-5 times a week. If you are new to resistance training, you will likely see quick improvements. If you already do resistance training regularly you will have to work harder and maybe do more sessions every week. You should:
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    .          a)  Keep rest short between sets.
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    .          b)  Have a medium to high rep range (between 10-20+) to ensure sufficient muscle stimulation.
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    .          c) Supersets, trisets and giant sets are beneficial as your goal is to use as much energy as possible
    .         during the session. Try to choose exercises where active muscle groups do not overlap:
    .               Squats and shoulder press
    .               Reverse lunges and push-ups
    .               Chest press and row
    .          This way, the muscles that are involved in the first exercise rest while you do the second exercise –
    .          meaning you do more work in less time and need less rest (which equals more calories burnt
    .          overall).  It also allows you to put in similar amounts of effort for every set, as compared to doing
    .          a superset involving the same muscles (e.g. chest press and push-ups). Super-sets with exercises
    .          using the same muscles are also effective, but it means that your ability to perform on the second
    .          and third set is drastically reduced due to fatigue.
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  2.    Make sure the programme is manageable – both in terms of logistics (avoid doing squats in superset with lat pulldown if that means you need to run back and forth across the gym), and time.
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  3.     Incorporate some cardiovascular exercise to keep your heart healthy, to burn those extra calories, and to aid fat loss.
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  4.     Eat healthily and focus on getting a lot of vegetables and protein. However, carbohydrates are important too so do not avoid eating them!
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  5.     Ditch the scale and go with how you look!

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Images from Google Images

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Good luck!

The Result Fitness Team

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References:

[1] Effects of strength or aerobic training on body composition, resting metabolic rate, and peak oxygen consumption in obese dieting subjects. (Geliebter et al.)   –  http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/66/3/557.short

[2] A systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of exercise training versus hypocaloric diet: distinct effects on body weight and visceral adipose tissue. (Verheggen et al.)   –   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27213481

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