Exercise plays a smaller role (but vital) when it comes to fat loss because you cannot outrun your fork. Especially when you’re both loaded with junk.
With fat loss, your main focus is nutrition and then exercising to support this. Retaining and building muscle while seeking the maximum calorie burn you can handle is your focus with exercising for fat loss.
But none of this works if you’re not in a caloric deficit.
However, there are principles you need to follow to make your exercise fat loss friendly. Because let’s face it, training for fat loss sucks and while you’re doing it, it needs to be effective.
And here’s how to do that.
Note- This is the view from 10,000 ft. Take what you need out of this post and apply it to your own fat loss journey.
And there is some crossover between points here. After all, it is exercise.
Compound movements mean the exercise trains more than one muscle group. Examples of this are squats (quads, glutes, hamstrings, core) and Push-ups (chest, triceps, shoulders core).
The more muscles you have in play while training, the better for your calorie burn and your waistline. And this gives you more bang for your exercise buck.
It’s not like isolation exercises are bad or forbidden because who doesn’t like biceps curls? But compound moves need to be your main focus for fat loss.
2. Self-Limiting Exercises
Self-limiting means the exercise has a starting point and stopping point because one or more body parts will scream enough. This is not like going for a walk, running on a treadmill or a leisurely bike ride.
Self-limiting exercises demand your total attention. You cannot just pop on your headphones and tune out mindlessly. You’re putting on your hat hard and going to work.
And these types of exercises are great for fat loss because they’re difficult compound full body moves.
Some examples of self-limiting exercises are squats, kettlebell swings, Turkish get ups and farmers carries.
They’ll have you feeling the burn.
3. Stand up
A 2010 study by the American Cancer society, published in the American Journal Epidemiology said that women who were inactive for 6 hours a day were 94% more likely to die.
Men who were inactive for 6 hours per day were 48% more likely to die than their standing counterparts. Although sitting too much as compared to smoking (which is a little harsh) sitting too much is bad for your health.
And your fat loss.
A study by Carrie Schmitz, claims that if a person stood instead of sitting for an extra 3 hours a day, they could burn over 30,000 calories in the course of a year or what amounts to 8 pounds of fat.
So, doesn’t it seem like a no brainer to do more standing than sitting and more standing exercises?
Standing exercises trains your balance, core stability and the small stabilizing muscles that help keep you up right. Which means more fat burning for you. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.
STAND UP ROUTINE
1A. Goblet squat
1B. Single arm row
1E. Farmers carry
4. Up/down/down/up exercises
The hardest physical thing we do as human beings is get up and down from the ground, chair or toilet seat. Because when you lose your ability to get up from the ground, you’ve got one foot in the grave. (1)
These types of exercises are great for fat loss (and your health) because they are compound, self-limiting movements and they will get your heart rate up. They’re like hamburgers with the lot.
They’re so good I wrote a whole article about them here.
Up/down/down/up type exercises are essential for your fat loss.
Is cardio essential for fat loss? Think about it for a moment.
People who are nervous about being in the gym, weights and all those in shape gym goers making funny faces in the mirror but need to lose weight usually head for the cardio machines.
And there is nothing wrong with that because it’s better than nothing.
Can you lose fat by just doing cardio?
Yes, you can. Is it the most effective method for fat loss? No, it’s not. Lifting weights and retaining and building muscle is. In fact, I’d place sleep, nutrition, resistance training ahead of cardio in the fat loss pecking order.
So why is fat loss a big rock? Because cardio is great for your health, keeping your head on straight and for reducing your stress and anxiety during your fat loss journey.
And it burns a few calories too.
And as we get older cardio becomes more important also.
Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging performed a longitudinal study of 375 women and 435 men ages 21 to 87 years over a period of 7.9 years. They measured the rate of change in aerobic capacity (VO 2 max) and the influence of age, gender, and physical activity on these changes.
They found a decline in peak VO2 in the 6 age decades in both sexes; however, the rate of decline accelerated from 3% to 6% per 10 years in the 20’s and 30’s to more than 20% per 10 years in the 70’s. The rate of decline for each decade was larger in men than women from the 40’s onward. (2)
If you want to keep doing stuff and keeping up with the young whippersnappers of this world then cardio is essential.
Remember the question is cardio essential for fat loss? Maybe. But cardio has bigger applications than just fat loss. because it’s huge for your health too.
Are these etched in stone?
No, they’re not. There are outliers who can do weird and wonderful things and their weight drops off. However, for the rest of us being in a caloric deficit, lifting weights and sprinkling in a little cardio is your best bet.
If you need a little kick start, you can download my 4-week program right here.