Posted by Chris Bathke, on May 13th, 2011
Her story was a familiar one, a busy working mom that has only three hours or less per week to dedicate to exercise, and who wants to lose weight. Over the years I have trained hundreds of people that fall into this category, and having been fortunate to learn from the best in the fitness field. So for my first article for Healthy Living I’ll share with you what works and why for the most common goal: Changing your body composition.
#1: A smart and sustainable approach to eating
#2: See #1 (also known as the “you can’t outrun a donut” rule)
#3: Resistance training (i.e. weight training)
#4: High intensity interval training
#5: Steady-state cardiovascular work (biking, walking, running, cardio classes)
The first thing I have those wanting to lose fat or gain muscle do is track their nutrition. If you have a handle on what you eat, and how many calories, then the stage is set for good results.
When it comes to losing fat and choosing the most effective mode of exercise we need to look at human physiology. Body composition is largely dependent on metabolism, so in order to lose weight we want to raise your metabolism while controlling caloric intake.
By far the most effective way to do that is with resistance training, which simultaneously builds lean tissue thus causing your resting metabolic rate to increase. It also uses a lot of calories by working the largest muscles in your upper and lower body at a high intensity.
A close cousin of resistance training is interval training, which can be done with weights, riding a bike or running for short bursts (usually 10-60 seconds) with brief rest periods. This works similar to resistance training in that it uses our largest muscles to a high degree, and works multiple energy systems (aerobic, anaerobic etc…).
If you only have three to five hours per week to exercise, then you’ll get the most bang for your buck focusing on two or three times per week of resistance training with a couple short interval sessions.
If you have more than five hours per week available then another hour or two of cardiovascular exercise is a great way to burn some more calories while working at a lower intensity.
In subsequent articles I’ll dig into research on fat loss and discuss some particular methods and tools we use to address client’s needs at Elemental Fitness Lab.