For a lot of people, weight loss and toning up is a desirable fitness goal, but it’s not always easy to know how to adapt your exercise routine and lifestyle to maximise fat loss in a healthy way.
Steven Virtue, Fitness Development Manager at Total Fitness, has shared his expert insights for burning fat effectively and seeing results.
The fitness expert started with debunking fat loss myths, and explained: “First and foremost, you cannot spot reduce fat. Although some parts of your body may take longer than others to slim down, depending on factors such as body shape and composition, if you workout to lose fat then you will lose fat across your entire body.
“You can focus your weight training on building certain muscles so that they appear particularly defined once fat is lost, however it is not possible to lose fat in one body part by exercising that specific area alone.”
Top Tip 1: Pick Up the Weights
He explained: “Whilst you may be tempted to focus solely on cardio-based workouts when trying to shift stubborn fat, combining aerobic exercises with strength training has been shown to be particularly effective for losing body fat.
“Adding resistance to your workout with weight training can help the body preserve fat-free mass, which has been shown to increase the number of calories your body burns whilst resting.”
He also added that, consistently weight training is a good step to take and that it’s best to aim for weight training that is safe but challenging, as this will help to build lean muscle.
Steven explained that: “This, combined with the fat loss, helps to create a more toned and sculpted physique.”
Top Tip 2: Incorporate HIIT into Workout Routine
Steven also recommended using HIIT – or High Intensity Interval Training – as part of your workout routine.
He explained: “If your goal is to lose fat, then you need to be in a calorie deficit – this is when you consume slightly fewer calories than you are burning which in turn makes your body tap into the stored body fat for extra energy.
“HIIT, particularly the longer circuits or more complex combinations, can be intimidating to beginners. However, there are simple and short HIIT exercises that you can start with: squats, sit ups, burpees and mountain climbers are all fantastic exercises to try for 30 second intervals with a 20 second rest.”
Top Tip 3: Adjust Your Diet
Diet is a fundamental aspect of fat loss, with new research suggesting that around 80 percent of fat loss is linked to a good diet.
This may suggest why a lot of people struggle to lose fat despite frequent exercise – because they aren’t eating the right foods.
Steven explained that: “If your goal is to lose fat, then you need to be in a calorie deficit – this is when you consume slightly fewer calories than you are burning which in turn makes your body tap into the stored body fat for extra energy.
“To ensure you are still consuming the nutrients your body needs whilst in a calorie deficit, it’s a good idea to work with a personal trainer to create a healthy and balanced diet plan.”
Top Tip 4: Increase Activity Outside of the Gym
While Steven recommends going to the gym regularly to stay in shape and shift excess fat, he also explained that isn’t all it takes.
He said: “Whilst a sweaty gym session is great for burning calories, having a more active lifestyle outside of the gym will also promote fat loss whilst improving your overall health.”
Instead, he recommends increasing daily activity levels through simple lifestyle changes, such as avoiding driving short distances and walking instead, using stairs instead of lifts, and taking up hobbies that are more active, like swimming or climbing.
Steven elaborated: “If you are struggling to stay motivated to be more active in day-to-day life, then combine this with socialising and seeing loved ones. For example, you could suggest swapping your next afternoon in the pub for a trip to a beautiful nature spot where you can enjoy a long walk and picnic.”
Top Tip 5: Allow Time For Rest
Steven explained: “When trying to meet fitness goals, it can be tempting to try to push your body to its limits with a rigorous and relentless training schedule.
“However, this is not the most effective way to lose body fat or maintain a healthy exercise routine.”
He added: “Too much vigorous exercise without enough recovery days can lead to overtraining which actually causes your body to store more fat, due to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol.
“Listen to how your body feels and what it needs – if you feel particularly lethargic or achy then vigorous exercise is probably not the best idea. Instead, consider an activity that will allow you to rest whilst also benefiting your mood, such as reading or meditation.”
Steven also believes that sleep is a vital aspect of the fat burning process and that it’s important to get at least seven hours of sleep per night, to ensure that you have an optimum environment for falling into a deep state of sleep.