Who hasn't had enough of the fat-loss training fads of the week?
One-hit wonders are entertaining for a little while, but at the end of the day, you want consistent results from the MVPs of fat-loss information.
So we did the research and compiled a go-to guide you can confidently recite by memory, fit on a post-it note, or inscribe on the wall of a cave (for all you hermits out there).
Let's give it up for the eight commandments of effective and healthy fat-loss training.
1. A Plan of 'Fat'tack
Think about all the greatest battles, heists, inventions, and people that ever existed. They all had a plan. The biggest key to fat loss results is planning.
It's incredibly easy to fall off the wagon when your training and nutrition is strict, so keep a detailed nutrition-and-training plan with a deadline to keep you focused and progressive.
You need to have a track in order to stay on it, and knowing where you want to be while moving towards it is both fulfilling and motivating.
2. Great Expectations or Healthy Expectations?
All right, so you're going to log 35 hours of cardio a week, eat nothing but bamboo leaves, and lose 25 pounds in 3 weeks. Not!
It's no wonder many people fall flat on their face after starting a fat-loss training program. They usually do too much too fast. We all want to shoot for the moon, but even astronauts know it isn't possible to launch a successful mission in one day.
Set yourself up with some challenging but also realistic goals, maybe 2-3 pounds a week. That's neither easy-peasy nor overkill, so you'll feel accomplished and healthy if you can hit that mark every week.
Giving yourself challenging, but also attainable goals will set you up for the best results.
3. Weight Is Only One Indicator
Sorry folks, but weight doesn't necessarily mean fat. You also have muscle, which is heavier than fat by volume. This means that if you are weight training and doing cardio (which you should be), you might gain some muscle weight while losing fat weight.
Though this may slightly inhibit changes on the scale, it can actually improve your physical fitness and health. Try using a body-fat caliper to measure your fat or take pictures to visually keep track of your fat loss for a better representation of your progress.
Use all the indicators for fat loss to get accurate and meaningful results.
4. The Spot Reduction Myth
When building muscle, it's easy to focus on target areas and build the right body proportions, but fat loss is a different beast.
Men hold onto fat in the abdominal area typically, and women hold onto fat around the buttocks and thighs.
These are the areas last in line for losing fat, so just be prepared. Spot reduction is almost impossible to completely achieve, so focus on overall fat loss.
You'll tune up those stubborn areas eventually!
5. The "Magic" Heart Rate
There isn't one, and everything from cardiovascular shape to genetics can affect what works best for you. But we have a good benchmark to aim for, and it's simple to calculate!
Your aim will be to match your target heart rate (THR) to your current heart rate (CHR).
Here it goes. First, subtract your age from 220. This will give you your THR—what you're aiming for.
From there, all you have to do is check your pulse (counting the beats) for 15 seconds, and then multiply that number by 4 to find your CHR. Adjust your cardio intensity accordingly to match CHR with THR.
And if math isn't your strong suit, buy a heart rate monitor!
6. Creative Cardio
Let's face it, the treadmill can get boring. But hey, swimming, jumping rope, playing sports, hiking, jogging outside, dancing, and aerobics are all readily available cardio activities for you to try.
Keep your cardio sessions novel and fun and you'll start looking forward to them. (That is, unless you're a square and hate having fun.)
Your body also loves doing different forms of cardio: Different forms of physical activity disallow the body from getting used to any one form, and that means consistent results!
7. High Intensity for Low Fat
Steady cardio is all well and good, but mixing up the intensity of your cardio keeps your metabolism working full time and firing on all cylinders.
Try working at high, medium, and low intensity during every cardio session. Changing speed, incline, and resistance during or between cardio sessions will keep your body on its fat-burning toes.
The fat burns better when the body isn't doing the same thing, day in and day out.
8. Muscle Is Your Friend
Muscle helps burn fat, period. Increased muscle requires nutrients to sustain it, in turn boosting metabolism. Most of us aren't just looking to lose fat; we're also trying to create a toned and fit physique.
So expose that sexy shape and help shed those fat pounds with some lean muscle! And don't be scared, ladies. Women aren't genetically designed to build bulky muscle, so that won't happen unless you're really trying to.