When aiming for fat loss, the goal is to expend more calories than you consume.
What if I told you that you could expend more calories, even when you’re not training.
How can we achieve this?
Is the answer to run endless hours on the treadmill every day?
To put it simply, NO. The best way to achieve it is with the Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption(EPOC), which is the number of calories your body burns after a workout as it rests and recovers from the stress you placed on your body during exercise.
When your body recovers from exercise, your oxygen consumption is elevated for up to 24 hours. This is happening because your body has to work to repair muscle damage and to restore cellular function to their pre-exercise levels.
What kind of training will boost your EPOC the most?
The most effective kind of training for fat loss is STRENGTH TRAINING!
It takes your muscles to exhaustion, which will boost your oxygen consumption in order to repair the muscle damage.
The benefits of progressive strength training don't stop there. Another reason why strength training is king for fat loss is due to its role in the preservation of lean muscle tissue. When you're in a calorie deficit, your body is in a negative energy balance and will turn to stored energy - muscle, fat, and glycogen, in an attempt to maintain homeostasis.
So if you're not utilising your muscles while in a calorie deficit, your body will try to burn it off for energy.
So how can you structure a strength training regime that will reach you to your results?
First, you need a program. If you aren’t following a planned and structured program, you may end up going around in circles.
Your program should focus on progressive overload (which I'll cover in a minute), it will keep you accountable when motivation is low and it allows you to monitor your progress long term.
To ensure we will get results, we HAVE to make progress in the gym. The simplest way to do so is to slowly increase your volume or intensity. There are many ways you can do this, but a few is by increasing the weight, reps, sets or frequency.
For best results, focus on compound exercises that target multiple, large muscle groups and burn the most amount of calories. Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead presses push ups, pull ups, lunges,etc..
Beginners need to master movements first and foremost, and then they can start adding weight.
With all the benefits of strength training, should we incorporate cardio into our workouts?
Well, cardio can be a useful tool to increase our calorie expenditure. I would recommend implementing cardio when fat loss slows down, to minimise dropping your calories further.
However, if cardio makes up the bulk of your training sessions without any strength focus, you will lose muscle, and more than likely not achieve the look you're after. Remember, if you do decide to add cardio after your strength training, keep it fun and enjoyable. This can include anything from circuits to HIIT or even sports and romantic long walks on the beach! ;-)
The take home message: For the most optimal results hit the iron over the treadmill.
Coach Lenka Suchankova