Here’s a hard truth: a lot of people don’t know how to get results in the gym, especially for weight-loss. When you’ve spent as much time in the gym as I have you feel like you’ve seen it all; gym-goers contorting their bodies in crazy ways to perform movements they don’t even know what it works. I’ve seen people attempt every mode and method of training for weight-loss under the sun; bosu balls, trx, kettlebells, you name it, with little effect. Then again that is part of the issue; people are complicating their workouts with exercises they aren’t sure are getting them real results. To be sure that is a problem and it creates two major points of concern that are cause and effect of one another; people don’t know how to exercise properly to lose weight and as an effect they get no results.
The gym regulars come in, they clock in their 45 minutes to an hour of gym time and hit repeat, only to find themselves six months later looking the same. That is not how it should be, people should be able to come to the gym consistently and reach the body and goals they desire. Maybe that gym regular I mentioned was you, maybe you feel stuck with the routine you’re using or confused on how to make magic happen during your workout. Well fear not because today we’re going over how to get real, bonified results for one of the greatest hurdles: weight loss
SUCCESS IS IN THE APPROACH
If you’ve been around long enough you’ve probably heard some say “work smarter, not harder”. As it turns out, the same rule applies to fitness. It’s about how you strategically approach your workout based on your goal that is going to help you lose the most weight, not “winging” it and hoping you lose 5 pounds at the end of the week. There is a method to the madness and these are the five simple categories to help break it down in:
- Mode (how/what you’re training for: strength, cardio, flexibility)
- Duration (of each session and the entire program)
- Frequency/recovery (between training days, within days)
- Volume (sets, reps, time, distance)
- Intensity (weight/resistance, incline, speed, etc.
These five points are the basis of every successful fitness program out there, so keep these points in mind (we’ll come back to these later as we start putting the pieces together.
Now that you’ve been introduced to the variables you need to know which exercises to incorporate to get you the most bang for your weight-loss dollar. In reality beating the scale can be a lot simpler than most people make it out to be, but this is still one of the great questions of fitness; because there are so many modes of exercise to choose from, how do you know which one works best for losing weight?
Is the answer running on the treadmill and increasing cardio?
Is it about doing more ab exercises?
Do I need to use squats and other compound lifts?
The truth is that having exercises in multiple categories may be the key to shedding the pounds; including cardio, weights, and more into your session can give you the winning combination for weight loss and overall fitness. Keeping that in mind this is the structure we’re going to follow for a program that will help you reach your weight-loss goals.
|Warmup/ Cardiovascular Training||5- 20 minutes|
|Strength Training||15- 35 minutes|
|Flexibility Training||5- 10 minutes|
This model can be tweaked using the training variables mentioned above, it just depends on you as an individual. If you need to increase the intensity variable or lengthen the duration to get the results that you need, make the simple adjustment. Stick around ‘til the end of the article and I’ll show you a training program you can use based on the points we go over that will boost your weight loss progress. So here we go!!!!
BREAKING DOWN THE BASICS
Cardio can be a short warmup to prepare you for the rest of the workout or it can be a longer conditioning session depending on you and the individual results it gets you. Here is how you can approach the different variables:
– choose mode(s): A good practice is to use 5- minute micro-sessions on two or more modes to switch up the muscle-groups activated and add a splash of variety. This could be [give an example]
– make your duration goal: duration is the combination of intensity and frequency, when used correctly it will get you some killer results. It’s recommended that you get at least 20 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise 3 days a week. Based on your schedule you should adjust them accordingly or even alternate them on a weekly basis (week one: moderate, week 2: vigorous)
– set your intensity goal: Intensity should be 60-80% of your maximum heart rate but hold on a second; if your new to exercise or you’ve been out of the gym for a while keep your maximum heart rate between 50- 60% and progress to 80% over the span of 3 to 4 weeks. To find out what your HRmax is follow this link
After cardio comes the next step in your weight-loss session: strength training. I don’t know your fitness background, but if you’ve never done strength training before, don’t let it intimidate you. We’re going to through it step by step and keep it as simple as possible. For this program I recommend a total body model with basic lifts to get your overall health up while burning some major calories.
GREAT STRENGTH EXERCISES
Above all your number one goal for each session is to use exercises that are going to target major muscle groups AND provide you with explosive lifts. Below is a short list of exercise types to fill in the strength portion of your session:
EXAMPLE STRENGTH EXERCISES
|Muscle Groups Targeted||Exercises||Explosive Variant|
|bi-lateral lower-body lifts||squats- front, back, overhead
seated leg press
|jumps- squats, box, tucks|
|unilateral lower-body lifts||lunge, side lunge,
one- legged squat,
Bulgarian split squat
single- leg pushoff,
cycled split jump,
Bulgarian split jump squat
|upper-body lifts||barbell or dumbbell bench press,
cable machine row,
barbell or dumbbell machine row,
|core||plank, modified knee plank,
bicycle crunch, reverse crunch/
leg raise, swiss ball crunch,
– 2 exercises for bilateral and unilateral lower- body training
– 2 exercises for upper-body training
– 1- 2 core exercises
– 1 explosive lift
– 2- 3 sets of each exercise
Cardiovascular and Strength Superset
This is a fun and challenging way to fuse cardio and strength exercises if you are a beginner or intermediate lifter. If you’ve had trouble losing weight in the past this is also a great option for you as it recruits both strength and endurance factors to help you build muscle and burn fat simultaneously.
Now the key to using this mode of training is through super-sets (sets where you perform at least two consecutive exercises without rest) which is going to keep you moving and sweating.
Circuit sets are another addition that can definitely help you achieve your goal. With circuit sets you perform the exercises one after the other WITHOUT REST. Whoa, I know it sounds intense (and it can be), but it will help you tremendously. If you do each repetition and not cheap on sets, you won’t have to worry whether or not you will be making progress; this mode of training will get you there. The trick is incorporating the strength exercises in the previous chart and structuring them for a circuit set. Here is an example of what you can do:
|Side squat||15 (each leg)||3|
|Bent over rows||15||3|
As I said earlier, you would complete these exercises one after the other to make 1 complete set, then after rest and do 2 more rounds to complete this section.
When doing circuits, it will help if you set up the stations for each exercise before-hand. All it takes is another gym-goer to come walking along and take equipment you were going to use and throw off your whole flow. If you’re resting when you should be working it’s going to throw off the circuit, which is going to throw off the effectiveness of the workout. We can’t have that!!!
I know by this part of the workout you’re going to want to wrap things up and breeze through stretches, but don’t overlook this portion! Flexibility is also crucial to your success, so take the time to reap its mental and physical benefits. During the stretch/ cool-down portion, it’s important that you;
– stick to static stretches
– use stretches that target major muscle groups for your lower and upper body
– do 1- 2 rounds of each stretch
– hold each stretch for 20- 60 seconds
|Lower Body||Hamstring stretch, glute stretch, quadricep stretch, groin stretch
Calf stretch, lower back stretch, abdominal
|Upper Body||Tricep, arm and shoulder, chest and front shoulder, wrist, side stretch|
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Now that you have all the pieces to the puzzle laid out, it’s time to construct the program itself. Of- course there is no one size that fits all, but these will serve as a great guideline for you as you become more comfortable in the gym and learning what works for you.
|1. Cardio||2. Strength||3. Flexibility|
With the session beginning with cardio, I would start things out with a bang. You want the duration and intensity to be at a level that presents a real challenge for you, fires your body into a calorie burning machine while setting the tone for the entire workout.
For this program the rowing-machine is where we start.
Why rowing you ask? Because rowing is a great way of working both the upper and lower body in a way that causes virtually no stress to your joints and ligaments. If you add the fact that rowers have some of the highest VO2 max (a.k.a. maximal oxygen uptake) markers in recorded history, it would make rowing one of the best cardiovascular exercises you can choose hands down.
A typical 1000m lap on a moderate intensity should take you under 10 minutes but have you sweating bullets! When rowing, make sure you keep your chest up and use your entire body. Don’t let your arms do all the work and use your legs to start the motion.
Next on the list is going to be the stair-climber. Because of the higher leg lift involved using the machine, you will take much more effort from your muscles than standard walking, strengthening your legs in a functional way. An average 180lb man could lose 500- 600 calories per hour using the stair-master, so this will prove to be a great way of burning fat for you.
Strategy: I suggest intervals using this machine, climbing at a 90% increase in total effort for 30 seconds with one minute of rest and recovery. You will do this for 8- 10 rounds, and if you feel up to going the extra mile, do farmer carries with kettlebells to incorporate upper body and core strength. By the time this portion is finished you’re body should be fatigued and warmed up for weight-lifting. For other routines for this machine check out this video
For the strength portion of the workout, we’re going to follow the guidelines for the types of exercises, but we’re going to also going to make it a strength circuit to really get things moving.
|Bi-lateral||Box jumps||15||3 rounds|
|Uni-lateral||Weighted lunges||15 (each leg)||3 rounds|
|Upper body (1)||Dumbbell bench press||15||3 rounds|
|Upper- body (2)||dips||15||3 rounds|
|Swiss ball crunch
As you can see with the sample strength programming, we
incorporated all the factors previously mentioned; we have
the exercise categories (bi-lateral, unilateral, etc.), we’ve
got a circuit, a superset, and we topped it all off with an
explosive movement. These elements combined will give
your entire body the intensity levels needed to burn calories while
keeping the workout time-sensitive. (we know you don’t want to
spend all day in the gym).
I can’t emphasis this enough: Commit to doing all the exercises! Don’t skip and don’t cheat otherwise you’ll only be robbing yourself of great results down the road. I know it will seem hard at first, but I promise you will be thanking yourself later for seeing it through to the end.
Our journey comes to an end as we rap things up with some stretches. I’ll say it again; DO NOT SKIP THIS PART! It will do you all kinds of good to de-escalate and cool down from the prior exercises. This is what the stretching portion can look like:
|hamstring||20 seconds (each leg)|
|quadricep||20 seconds (each leg)|
|triceps||20 seconds (each arm)|
|Chest and front shoulder||20 seconds (each arm)|
This set up works well, stretching the full body (upper-body, lower body and abdominals). These are a good selection of stretches, but if there is a body part that you feel needs more TLC after the strength section, then stretch it accordingly.
So altogether the workout looks like this
|SAMPLE WEIGHT-LOSS PROGRAM|
|Row Machine||1000m under 10 min.|
|Stair- Climber||8- 10 rounds||90% intensity increase for 30 seconds, 1- minute recovery|
|Bi-lateral||Box Jumps||15||3 rounds|
|Uni-lateral||Weighted Lunges||15 (each leg)||3 rounds|
|Upper- body (1)||Dumbbell Bench Press||15||3 rounds|
|Upper- body (2)||Dips||15||3 rounds|
|Swiss Ball Crunch
|Chest and Front-
WRAPPING THINGS UP
The Gym can be confusing at times and finding the solution to your weight-loss goals can be even more so with all the information and myths floating around. However, if you have a clear approach with proven techniques that you follow consistently, you stand a great chance at beating the scale week in and week out. I encourage you to try out the program from this article and adjust it as you see fit. Besides it‘s your body and your journey which means that you are going to have to find what’s right for you, but above all the important thing is that you start and stick with it. For now stay strong friends!!!