Working as a certified personal trainer and wellness coach/consultant in field for over 15+ years, I learned a thing or two about the importance of weight training. When the end goal is fat loss (or pretty much any end goal), a weight/resistance training program is a must.
Let’s give some brutal and truthful fact bombs here. You can cut calories and be a hamster on wheel (aka the treadmill) and maybe drop a little weight but nothing will help shape your body and contribute to dropping fat like weight training.
When it comes to lifting weights to drop fat, it is important to put a few key notes out on the table. First for any ladies that are reading this, you will NOT get big from lifting weights. You get “big” from overconsumption of energy (calories), sugar loaded beverages, and hormone imbalances. Second, you can lift more than you think—and you should with the help of a spotter, and utilizing drop sets as I will explain soon.
And finally, if weight training is done properly you will likely be sore the day or two after your workouts (especially if you are new to resistance exercise). This is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, and it is a normal response to weight training. Be sure to stretch after, drink plenty of water and incorporate a solid and suitable nutritional intake of foods to help your body recover quickly between workouts.
A Few Key Points
Below, I’m going to give four key points to keep in mind while working toward your weight or, fat loss goals. After all, weight is just a number and only says a little about your body. I’m 5’8” and weigh about 175 pounds, while my dad is 5’6” and weighs around 170 pounds—Our BMI is roughly the same but our bodies look COMPLETELY opposite of one another. The biggest difference between us is the muscle to fat ratio we each have; I’m very lean with a good amount of muscle and he is chubby with much much less muscle. Keep that in mind as you work toward your goals. In other words: Train (and eat) to lose fat, not just “weight” as there is a big difference.
- Move Heavy Weight. I have trained and coached a lot of people through the years and I cannot tell you how many have fallen way short of their potential to be their best. You won’t get results lifting the same weights you’ve been lifting (if you’ve been lifting) for the last several months or, years. You have to push yourself, lift heavy and put on your “ugly face” and grit your teeth! Increase your resistance and you’ll increase your strength and muscle mass. Increase your muscle mass and you’ll increase your metabolic rate. Increase your metabolic rate and you will burn more calories. Burn more calories than you consume and you will lose weight, simple as that. If you want to lose fat and not look “skinny fat,” you need to lift HEAVY weights.
- Incorporate Drop Sets and Supersets. A drop set is when one may start with say, 50lbs for 8 reps or many as possible till failure, then immediately drop down to 35lbs, repeat till failure and then drop down to 20lbs, repeating again till failure. This takes the targeted muscle(s) to complete failure. A superset is putting opposing muscle groups together while moving immediately back and forth for sets between the two. For example; Doing a set of 8-10 heavy squats and immediately grabbing a pair of dumbbells to push out a challenging set of 8-10 chest presses on the flat bench and repeating, going back to the squats for 3 more rounds in the same fashion with little to no rest in between.
- You Need to Fail. Sometimes being a failure is a good thing! What needs to be emphasized here is TRUE failure with each set being performed. In other words, if your goal is to complete 8 reps but you get to 8 and you know damn well you have 2 or maybe 3 more, then DO 2 or 3 more and then add a little more weight next set! By pushing your body out of its comfort zone, you are forcing it to respond the excess demand being put on it and progress the way you want it to. Your body has to use energy to repair and recover. Make your body work for you, and don’t be afraid to fail.
- Be Intense. I sometimes love to spend 60-90 minutes in the gym if I have the time to do so. But, if your schedule is demanding and limited like mine, you don’t have to spend more than 30 to 45 minutes on your workouts. In fact, you could cut this down to 20 or less minutes if you’re really in a time pinch by incorporating a Tabata approach to training. You can learn more on Tabata training here: http://blog.youth-rx.com/no-time-to-workout-you-heard-of-4-minute-tabata-training-before .
Being Accountable, Respecting Our Body
I can respect powerlifters who spend 2 hours a day training and others who enjoy their time in the gym, but I do NOT have the patience or the time to lift weights for more than two hours. The key for fat loss and building muscle here is to work hard throughout the entire workout, minimize rest and keep your heart rate elevated. Do this, make your little bit of time highly effective and get the hell out so you can then feed yourself properly to recover, grow and progress forward while getting on with your day.
Optimizing our hormones is one thing, and a great way to stave off the aging process! Even on its own, optimizing our hormones helps us feel like a completely new person. Practicing consistent and correct eating practices are essential for staying healthy (and avoiding obesity). And, gritting our teeth and pushing ourselves in the gym is essential to keep us performing at our best physically. Nothing can help us reach our full potential quite like drawing all three of these essential components of one’s program all together though! In other words, although good and better than completely letting one’s self go, doing one without the other two will yield less than the absolute BEST results one can achieve. The “magic” happens when we address each of these very important areas so we can look and feel our best long term.
Let’s be accountable to ourselves and our body, we deserve it! We only have one life to live and one body to do it in.
Best in health,
Roger Bowman, CPT