If you want to lose fat, you need to start eating a little less and a little more healthily. This will create a calorie deficit. Your body will make up this calorie shortfall by burning body fat. The result? You’ll get leaner and will probably lose weight too.
Eating less is arguably the easiest way to create this calorie deficit but exercise can help too. After all, when you exercise, your metabolic rate increases so you burn even more calories. This will save you having to slash your food intake too severely. In short, adding exercise into the fat loss mix means faster progress and less hunger than dieting alone.
But, where should you start with fat loss exercise? On the one hand, almost all forms of exercise can contribute to fat loss. However, some options are better than others. If you are new to fat loss training, make sure you include the following types of exercise on your workout schedule.
A lot of people dismiss walking as being too easy to be beneficial, but that’s what makes it such a useful fat-burning tool. Modern life is very sedentary and, even if you exercise for an hour at a time several times a week, you are probably still too inactive. Walking is the perfect antidote to sedentarism.
- • Requires no special equipment or skill
- • Can be done almost anywhere and at any time
- • Burns an appreciable number of calories
- • Is easy enough that it won’t interfere with other types of exercise
- • Will enhance recovery after strenuous workouts
- • Is good for your general physical and mental health
To use walking for faster fat loss, commit to clocking up 5,000-10,000 steps every day. Use a pedometer or a step-tracking app on your phone to measure your progress. You don’t have to do all your walking in one go; the benefits of walking are cumulative and it’s perfectly acceptable to break your walks down into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Try walking to and from work; take a walk before breakfast or after dinner; use the stairs instead of the elevator; or even try walking to speak to colleagues rather than call or email them. If you start looking for walking opportunities, you’ll find it’s actually quite easy to accumulate a large number of steps per day.
Cardio is one of the best forms of exercise for fat loss. When you do cardio, your body uses fat for fuel and your calorie expenditure increases significantly. Cardio is also very good for your heart, lung, and circulatory health. Good cardio options include:
- Stationary bikes
- Elliptical trainers
- Stepper machines
- Rowing machines
- Group exercise classes
There are two main types of cardio exercise you can do; slow-paced cardio and interval training. Slow-paced cardio, as the name suggests, involves exercising at a relatively slow pace for an extended period of time. This type of exercise puts you in the so-called “fat burning zone” where your body mostly uses fat for fuel. While this type of cardio can be beneficial, workouts can be long, and you don’t burn calories or fat especially quickly.
The opposite of slow-paced cardio is interval training. Interval training involves alternating periods of intense exercise with short rests. For example, using an exercise bike, you might pedal as fast as you can for 30 seconds and then take it easy for 60 seconds. Repeat 10 times to total 15 minutes. This type of workout burns more calories per minute and also increases your metabolic rate for several hours after your workout has finished – the afterburn effect.
You don’t have to choose between slow-paced and interval training; they are both very useful and should be included in your fat loss training schedule. However, because interval training is a more intense type of workout, you should only do it after you have completed several weeks of slow-paced cardio during which you will develop a basic level of fitness.
Strength training might not be an obvious choice of exercise for fat loss but it’s actually very valuable. Strength training burns calories while you are doing it and building a little more muscle means your metabolism will increase so that you burn more calories 24/7 – even while you sleep.
Strength training can also:
- Increase insulin sensitivity for faster fat burning and better carbohydrate metabolism
- Preserve muscle mass during a low-calorie diet
- Tone your muscles
- Increase bone mass
- Increase functional strength
Two or three strength training sessions per week, using whole body workouts and compound exercises, will significantly speed up fat loss. Not sure where to start? Hire a personal trainer to guide you.
Remember though, strength training is NOT bodybuilding. The two are often confused. Bodybuilding training will not necessarily help you lose fat whereas strength training will. Make sure whoever you ask for advice knows the difference!
Putting it all together
You’ll get better results from your fat loss training if you follow a balanced schedule. There are lots of ways to put your week of workouts together but here’s an example to get you started:
Monday - Strength Training, Walking
Tuesday - Cardio, Walking
Wednesday - Strength Training
Thursday - Rest, Walking
Friday - Cardio, Walking
Saturday - Strength Training
Sunday - Rest, Walking
Walking on rest days? You bet! Remember, walking is easy, and it will not affect recovery. However, it will significantly boost fat loss.
You are what you eat, and if you eat lots of junk food, you’ll never lose fat. But, if you eat healthily and combine your diet with a sensible training program, you’ll not only lose fat, you’ll keep it off too. Diet and exercise combine to create the optimal environment for fat loss.