What Type of Training Should I Do For Weight Loss?

You have likely seen some of these fallacies if you are on your weight loss journey.  Hell, you’ve probably bought into some of these and executed on them.

We all have!

  • All calories are created equal
  • Eat less – move more
  • If you’re skinny, you’re healthy
  • Eating fat makes you fat
  • Weight loss is a perfectly linear journey
  • Eating carbs make you fat
  • And the list goes on…

For now, though, we are going to focus on the movement part of “eat less – move more.”  Specifically what types of training should you do if you actually want to lose weight, gain muscle, and feel amazing!

Stress, Response, & Homeostasis

Your body is not dumb.

Your body wants to do as little work as it needs to in order to survive.  This is why, when you begin to add exercise to the mix (stress), your body changes in the first place (response).  Your body works to meet the demands you have placed on it.  Consequently, this is also why people plateau after making big initial changes (homeostasis).

If you have ever plateaued, you are aware that you were likely doing pretty similar things over and over again (the same stressors).  Those same things got you the results you initially had (the same response, though diminished) but nothing more (homeostasis).  In other words, you achieved a balance between all these variables.

The solution is not that you need to continue to add more and more time training.  The solution is that you need to be able to manipulate other training variables.  One of these variables, and the one variable you will likely not enjoy, is intensity.

“Intensity” is a 4 Letter Word

Remember that your body wants to do as little work as possible.  It should be no surprise that your brain will work the same way without a concerted effort to keep your intensity high.

You need to fight that urge!

Intensity is where the magic happens.  Intensity is uncomfortable.  Intensity is sometimes painful.  Intensity also happens to be where your results lie.  And it is this intensity that results in continual change and progress toward your weight loss goals.

Let’s face it:  intensity sucks!  Though, “sucks” is not the 4 letter word I was thinking…

Why Does It Work?

Intensity, while training, is usually responsible for the release of growth hormone and testosterone.  What do these hormones do to your body?  Why should you care? Among many other things (probably more than I can name):

  • They facilitate weight loss
  • They encourage fat loss (which is not necessarily the same thing as weight loss)
  • They encourage building skeletal muscle
  • They aid in general [daily] stress management
  • And they can help with an overall improvement in your mental health

One thing you might notice, while reading through this list, is how these things can play off of each other.  For example:  adding muscle can actually help you lose body fat via improvements in your metabolism.

There is a rather large list of ways you can manipulate intensity other than simply adding weight to your lifts.  For those of you who have lifted weights before, hit your maxes, and couldn’t go past them, you understand this.

The ‘FITT’ Principle

A simple way you can grasp a bit about how to manipulate your training sessions to force your body to continue to respond (aka get results) is to learn the FITT principle:

  • F – frequency
    • How often you perform an exercise (times per day, week, month, year)
  • I – intensity
    • Loading, speed, reps, sets, etc. (more strength training specific)
    • Percentage of your max heart rate (more cardio specific)
  • T – time
    • Duration of exercise which, for cardio, is pretty straight forward
    • For strength training – this could be total training session length but it could also be tempo of each individual rep of the movement
  • T – type
    • For cardio?  Running, rowing, biking, jump rope, swimming, etc.
    • For strength training?  Barbell, dumbbell, bodyweight, bands, etc.

As you can imagine, there are innumerable ways to change the level of intensity of the workout.  A common means of doing this [for most lifters] is to add weight and drop reps as you go:

  • 10 reps @ 100lbs
    • Rest 90 seconds
  • 8 reps @ 110lbs
    • Rest 90 seconds
  • 6 reps @ 120lbs

For beginner lifters, this is a great way to go and you don’t need to alter anything else!  Consistency matters more than anything for you!

For someone with a lot of years of experience, you’re going to want to play with some of these other variables.  One of the things I like to have my trainees do is to play with tempo’s and rest times:

  • 10 reps @ 100lbs with a 5 second descent in each rep
    • Rest 60 seconds
  • 8 reps @ 110lbs with a 5 second descent in each rep
    • Rest 60 seconds
  • 6 reps @ 120lbs with a 5 second descent in each rep
    • Drop the weight by 30% (about 85lbs) and perform as many reps as possible

Looking at this, you can see how the intensity changes and it changes pretty drastically.  In fact, those weights might very well need to drop down a little.  The weights, in this case, did not change.

What Do I Do Now?

There are likely an infinite number of ways to change intensity in a workout without ever having to increase weights until you cannot lift them any longer.  This might make it seem impossible to take the next step.  Well, here’s some advice:

Pick one (1) variable and run with it.

The trick is to give it time.  To give something a legitimate amount of time to see what it does for you, you will likely want to take a minimum of a month to track changes.  The problem is if you don’t give it enough time, or if you program hop based on entertainment value, you won’t get what you’re looking for.  In this case, don’t blame the program because that’s not why it didn’t work…

If your body changed in a month or more (weight loss, body fat loss, muscle growth, better endurance, etc.) then that variable change worked!  If not, pick something different and go with that for a minimum of a month and then track those changes.If you want something a bit more concrete, as well as a surefire way to continue to take big steps toward your weight loss goals, contact us HERE.  We would love to take you to the next big step in your health, fitness, and weight loss journey!

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