So here we go, it is time to talk about exercise and how to use it to help with your weight loss goals. Some of you may wonder why we have got to part three and we are only talking about exercise now, but if you have read the first blogs you will understand now the importance of setting goals first, working out how you will break them down before starting making changes to your diet and finally looking to exercise.
The goals are set, you have made progressive changes to your eating habits and you have started to lose weight. The first thing to remember is the sole principle of fat loss is of course the calorie deficit and so we achieve this by expending more calories than we intake. Fundamentally we do this through managing our diet, but we can use exercise as a tool to add to that calorie deficit. It may surprise some of you that exercise is only described as the tool and that it isn’t the main principle but that is the truth. There are actually many benefits to exercise that in my opinion are more important than the calorie burning benefit, these include building muscle, increased strength, improved mental health, stronger joints and improved performance (to name a few).
The calories you burn through exercise in the gym are minimal compared to the calories you can burn over the course of 24 hours. Or on a larger scale the calories you burn in the 3-4 hours in the gym over the course of a week which is 168 hours are minimal. It actually accounts for less than 2% of the time and probably 10% of the calorie burn. So I want you to change the way you think about weight loss. I want you to stop thinking and associating the gym as the key to weight loss because it isn’t (I am not saying you shouldn’t go – I will come to that a little later) but I want you to change your mindset. I want you to realise that what you do outside of the gym is 98% of your time and so is of course something you want to spend some time planning and making the best of.
So how can you make the most of it?
A lot of people now use activity trackers which give them a good insight into their total movement per day/per week via a step count. I am a huge fan of this and promote all my weight loss clients to put a focus on increasing step count. You have to find ways of increasing overall activity in the other 98%, if you don’t I am afraid you will not get results, you must do more than you are doing now to increase energy expenditure and so increase the calorie deficit and lose weight – sounds kinda simple right? In that sense it is, but the hard bit is creating the habits so that you consistently increase your activity, things like daily walks can help. If you are an office worker who sits down or spends a lot of time in the car then having a high step count can of course be tough. Some ways in which you can help this include parking further away, walking to the shops, taking a 20 minute walking break, you could walk on your lunch/dinner, you could take the stairs instead of the lift or walk instead of standing still on the escalator. I have never understood standing still on escalators, they are designed to speed up the process of getting up the stairs, not to make us lazier! There are lots of things you can do to impact your step count and it starts by putting attention on it and measuring and managing it, just like you would like the budgets in the office or your bank account. In terms of where you should start, it just simply needs to be more than you are doing now, I wouldn’t over complicate it and I wouldn’t set unrealistic targets just do more than you did previously.
If your main focus is to move more, why should you go to the gym then?
Well I listed the benefits of exercising above which are incredibly important but let me relate this back to weight loss. Yes you can achieve weight loss without attending the gym… BUT, it would be a little daft and here is why.
As well as weight loss, most people want to see some definition on their body, of course getting leaner (losing body fat) will help with this, but focusing on weight training will allow you to develop and shape the muscle underneath and so when you do lose the weight you want to, you will then see a nicely defined physique – the one you dreamt of. So your focus should be primarily weight training and it should incorporate the key principle of progressive overload which is basically increasing the difficulty as your progress, in most cases you can achieve this by simply increasing the weight. I urge you not to fear lifting heavy and working hard on your weight training, it is so much harder to build muscle than it is to lose weight and so you will not pack on lots of size by accident – I promise you. If you are new to training I wouldn’t over complicate your weight training either, I would focus on full body workouts with weights 3-5x per week.
You should base your exercises on compound movements which are basically movements which use more than one joint at once and so lots of muscles at the same time. A basic programme would include a squat movement e.g. back squat, goblet squat or leg press. You would then look to have a hip hinge movement e.g. deadlift, Romanian deadlift or similar. Following that you would look to incorporate a horizontal pull e.g. seated row. Then a vertical pull e.g. a lat pulldown or pull up/assisted pull up. After that a horizontal push e.g a chest press, bench press or dumbbell press. Finally a vertical push e.g. shoulder press, dumbbell shoulder press or a barbell shoulder press. I would also always look to add a core exercise which ideally includes a rotation movement – a cable woodchop would be a great choice.
Here is an example below of what I have outlined above –
Dumbbell Goblet Squat – 3-4 Sets x 12-15 Reps
Kettlebell Deadlift – 3-4 Sets x 12-15 Reps
Cable Seated Row – 3-4 Sets x 12-15 Reps
Lat Pulldown – 3-4 Sets x 12-15 Reps
Chest Press – 3-4 Sets x 12-15 Reps
Shoulder Press – 3-4 Sets x 12-15 Reps
Cable Woodchop – 3-4 Sets x 12-15 Reps (each side)
Now of course there could be further progressions here, you may want too add a lunge movement in there e.g. lunge, walking lunge, split squat, Bulgarian split squat, reverse lunge or maybe even a lateral lunge to work in the frontal plane. However the basics and fundamental movements are there. The best programmes are actually simple, yet effective. They incorporate progressive overload normally through increasing weight but this can be done in other ways too.
My advice to anyone that doesn’t know how to execute these exercises effectively is to pay somebody to teach them. You wouldn’t try and fix your boiler yourself or try to change a light fitting without paying for an expert so why wouldn’t you do the same for your body? Imagine having the confidence to complete a workout knowing firstly that it is safe but also that you are getting the most out of the exercise and able to make progression week on week – seems like a no brainer really doesn’t it?
I want you to do something for me the next time you attend the gym, this is a generalisation but it is one that normally rings true…
Take a look at the people in the cardio zone in your gym, then take a look at the people who attend classes, finally take a look at the people weight training – ladies especially you, I want you to look at the ladies that are lifting heavy weights and I bet you that they are not ‘bulky’, I bet you they have the physique you aspire, more so than those that attend classes or the ones you see doing endless hours or cardio…
I hope once you do that, that you answer your own question as to what is the best form of exercise to create the physique you desire…
That brings us to the end of the ‘How to get started with your weight loss in 2020’ blog, you now know how to set goals, how to make a start with your nutrition and now how to make a start with your exercise.
Should you have any questions, anything at all, get in touch with me and I will be happy to help!