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How to Structure Your Workout for Fat Loss

11/01/2019
By Soji James, CPT, CSCS

When considering fitness routines, it’s essential to select workouts that directly correlate to your physical goals. In the case of fat loss, following the proper fitness hierarchy will accelerate your results. At the base of the hierarchical pyramid of efficient fat loss is nutrition. Following that, you have strength training and high intensity interval training (HIIT). Located firmly at the top of the pyramid is a steady state of aerobic activity. Understanding this hierarchy helps you get the most out of your workout by helping you prioritize your fitness activities to reach your weight-loss objectives. Here are some tips and tricks that are sure to drastically change the way you approach fat loss.

Nutrition for Fat Loss

Nutrition is the base of the fat loss hierarchical pyramid. This means that your diet is the most important factor of your fitness routine and should receive the most time and attention. The saying, “You can’t outrun a bad diet” rings true in most cases. According to Healthline, fat loss can be maximized by incorporating “fatty” proteins (ironically) and healthy alternatives to your favorite ingredients such as olive oil and whey protein into your diet. The idea is to augment your metabolism so that you can be losing weight both when you are and are not working out. Items that you should consider adding to your diet include fatty fish, coffee, eggs, apple cider vinegar, and full-fat non-Greek yogurt. 

We often associate eating healthy with a substantial time commitment. That doesn’t have to be the case. Efficiently investing in your health starts with proper planning. Take a day or two to research what you want to eat for the week, and set aside a few hours to cook. Preparing meals in this way allows you to experiment with tasty new recipes while saving money. If you have limited time and resources to dedicate to healthy habits, remember that losing fat is a numbers game; focusing on your diet first will help you consume fewer calories than you burn so that weight will consistently melt off.

Fat Loss Workouts

Whether you exercise once a day or every day, it’s important for you to find time to exercise.

But not all workouts help you achieve the same goals. If you are focused on fat loss, the second layer of the hierarchical pyramid includes strength training and HIIT, and the top tier is steady-state aerobic activity. . The science behind fat loss workout programs lies on the foundation that both fat and carbohydrates are used to maintain the function of the body. Nevertheless, researchers have discovered that the allocations of these molecular components shift depending on what you are doing. While HIIT workouts encourage the body to assign carbohydrates to sustain you, steady-state aerobic activity is what burns a significant amount of fat. Both get your body moving, but depending on the time you can invest, one might be better than the other.

If you are short on time due to your busy schedule, incorporating HIIT might be your best bet. On the other hand, if you have more time to spare, you should opt for steady-state aerobic activity. Individuals with even shorter time frames to work out should try fast-paced strength training. No matter what, it’s important for you to find time to exercise.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) cardio workouts

HIIT workouts are typically characterized as fast-paced, high-intensity workouts. The goal is to get your body moving through quick exercises that maintain a steady heart rate. If you are finding this too good to be true, check out this 24-minute cardio workout from self.com.

Collectively, these simple workout routines are simple but challenging. Each exercise pushes the body to a point of intensity that is not usually replicated throughout the day. In addition, the variety provides a sort of shock-like experience to your muscles and thus your body does not get accustomed to the movements The best part about this 24-minute cardio workout is that there is no equipment needed. Whether you have 30 minutes to spare at the office, or at home, this workout is flexible enough to meet the demands of most locations. 

Part 1: Execute each of these exercises. After each exercise, rest for 15 seconds before starting the next one. 

  1. Butt Kicks – 45  Seconds
  2. Jump Squats – 45 Seconds
  3. Burpees – 45 Seconds
  4. Mountain Climbers – 45 Seconds
  5. Alternative Sidekicks – 45 Seconds
  6. Jumping Lunges – 45 Seconds
  7. Repeat this circuit twice

Part 2: Execute each of these exercises. 

  1. Mountain Climbers – 40 Seconds
  2. Forearm Plank – 20 Seconds
  3. Rest – 1 minute
  4. Plank Jacks – 40 Seconds
  5. Forearm Plank – 20 Seconds
  6. Rest – 1 Minute
  7. Lateral Plank Walks – 40 Seconds
  8. Forearm Plank – 20 Seconds
  9. Rest – 1 Minute
  10. Repeat this circuit twice

In less than 30 minutes, you can have a challenging, in-depth workout experience that will undoubtedly contribute to your overall fat loss aspirations.

Steady-State Aerobic Activity

The topmost and smallest section of the fat loss hierarchical pyramid is steady-state aerobic exercise. This means that steady-state aerobic exercise, while still helpful for fat loss, is the least effective use of your time and energy. Steady-state aerobic activity differs from HIIT training because it involves slower movements that require you to give the same energy throughout the entire workout. Because this type of workout is slower paced, you can typically enjoy the company of friends and family while you work toward your fat loss goal. Exercises that incorporate steady cardio for fat loss include running, fast-paced walking, dancing, biking, and rowing. The goal is to participate in an activity that will get your heart rate to a steady, consistent pace that helps you shed fat.

ACE, a NCAA-accredited personal trainer certification provider, considers the benefits of steady-state aerobic activity to include encouraging your body to burn fat while working out, improving your cardiac health, generating less metabolic waste, and putting less physical strain on various sections of your body. As beneficial as this style of working out is, it takes more time to see results. Nevertheless, unlike HIIT training, steady-state aerobic exercise allows you to nurture a steady focus during workouts that can help you concentrate on other areas of your life.

Our bodies are the only homes we can never move out of, so we deserve to live comfortably in them. Fat loss is a hierarchical journey that starts in your kitchen and ends in the gym. The type of exercises you engage in depend on the time you can commit. Whichever type of exercise you choose, know that, with each movement, you are taking a step toward a healthy future.

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