Most people when they decide they need to lose fat think cardio is the most important form of training. As it is however nothing could be further from the truth. Initially cardio will knock of some pounds but by itself that will only work for a short while. Weight training however is important for two reasons. Firstly, the training itself burns calories and revs the metabolism. Secondly and more importantly, weight training builds muscle. The more muscle you have the more calories you will burn at rest. This is also why protein is so important in the diet. Cardio by itself will burn not only fat but also muscle leaving you with less muscle and less calories burning ability.
The are a plethora of training programs out there. Some will suit you as an individual and some will not. Find what works best takes years of experimentation. I personally have never been a HIT fan but in my last cutting phase I used my own HIT routine and must say I was very happy with it. I think because you are training less you become less catabolic towards the muscles. But anyway I am assuming people reading this may or may not have done weights before so I will work from a beginners standard.
The number one mistake people make
The number one mistake I think people make is to go to split workouts and once a week routines too early. You should really stick to the basics for quite sometime before splitting. I followed a routine for rugby for 3 years before I began to split and gained well. This is my routine for raw beginners. I will list the routine and then instructions after.
1. Perform 3 non-consecutive days per week e.g. Mon, Wed, Fri
2. Perform for 4 weeks and NEVER go to failure for the four weeks.
3. Follow the following set scheme:
4. Only do leg press instead of squats if you have a debilitating injury, and I mean serious. One thing that shits me is people whining about not being able to squat. I have the flexibility of a steel pole in my lower back and hammies and no ligaments in one of my knees but I still squat. The reason people can't squat is because they don't do it right, their technique sucks. I would say 90% of the people who write on this site have bad technique or go too heavy forcing bad technique, let alone any newcomer to lifting, and I myself was one of them. You should not have to put boards under your heals either. Get someone to show you how to squat, it is the most valuable 5 mins you will give up.
After 4 weeks your muscles will be well prepared to train seriously. At this stage you can change this routine or stick with it and maybe add some hamstring and calf work. look around bodybuilding.com for some great routines. The following is a great routine I have used in the past while cutting and it maintained my muscle and strength well.
If you are a HIT trainee do only one set per exercise, if you are not only do 2.
Chest, Delts and Tris
Incline DB Press 1-2x6-10
Flat DB Press 1-2x6-10
Superset-Dips and flyes 1-2x8-15
Any press for delts 1-2x6-10
Behind the back cable lateral raise 1-2x8-12
Superset- DB Upright rows and DB lat raises 1-2x8-15
Fav triceps exercise (not dips or close grip bench) 1-2x6-12
Squats 1x20 (balls to the wall breathing squats)
Leg extensions 1-2x8-20
Seated leg Curls 1-2x8-12
Lying Leg curl 1-2x8-12
Leg press calf raise 1-2 sets, reps as desired
Standing calf raise 1-2 sets, reps as desired
Chins 1-2x max
45 degree row* wide grip 1-2x 6-12
45 degree row* close grip 1-2x 6-12
*I don't know what everybody would know these as but I'm talking about the thing most gyms have like a t-bar row but this a body support set about 45 degrees.
Barbell curls 1-2x 6-10
Incline curls 1-2x 8-12
Concentration curls 1-2x 8-12
The thing I love about 3 day a week splits when cutting is that you can do cardio on non-weight training days to minimize catabolism. To learn more about weight training simply read around BB.com.
The best form of cardio is almost as debated as what is the best form of weight training. Should you do cardio on an empty stomach? How long should you do cardio for? At what intensity? There are so many variables in is not funny. I will hope to answer some of these questions for you.
Question 1. What form should my cardio take?
Firstly, I must state I will be mainly concerned with two forms, high intensity intervals (HII) and low intensity, long duration cardio (LILDC). Studies have shown females respond better to HII while men respond better to LILDC, which could explain why females are so successful in the Body for Life challenge. To see an example of HII check out my previous article on Better cardio: 20 mins to a leaner you. LILDC is simply riding an exercise bike or treadmill for 30-45 mins.
Question 2. Should I do cardio before breakfast?
Short answer yes, long answer you bet. There is some concern however if you do cardio first thing you are likely to burn more muscle than fat. But that is not necessarily the case. here are the positives of cardio first thing.
- You are in a fasted state, glycogen levels are low therefore you will burn more fat.
- Because you haven't eaten insulin levels are low, insulin interferes with the mobilization and burning of fat.
- If you eat before cardio you simply will burn what you just ate, not fat.
- It releases endorphins making you fell good for the rest of the day.
Question 3. Should I do cardio before or after weights?
Neither. I personally prefer to do cardio on my days off from the gym. This is how I would set up a training schedule.
- Mon: Weights
- Tues: Cardio
- Wed: Weights
- Thurs: Cardio
- Fri: Weights
- Sat: Cardio
- Sun: Rest
Secret, no. Tips, yes.
1. Do cardio where your body weight comes into play. Walking etc. 2 reasons firstly it is load bearing and is good for the bones whereas swimming and cycling are not, also you will burn more calories. A 200lb person will burn more calories while walking than a 150lb person, however they would burn the same if the both rode a stationary bike.
2. Do your cardio on a treadmill on a incline. The treadmills I have used go up to 15 degrees so I set it to 15 degrees. A 200lb person walking on a flat treadmill will only burn 4-6 calories per minute but walking at 15 degrees they will burn 20 calories per min. It roughly is 3-4 times as many calories.
Question 5. How long should I go for?
HII anywhere from 20-30 mins.
LILDC I suggest 30-45 mins.
If you are really paranoid and you trained before breakfast maybe add 10 mins before dinner but no more.
There you go my brief guide to training for fat loss. it is nothing detailed or ground breaking, just tried and true methods. If you have any queries email me or check out some of the other great articles on BB.com.