It seems like everyone’s always looking for the next “trick” to lose weight. Maybe it’s a diet pill, or a workout craze, or those crazy new face injections that get rid of your double chin… Basically, we’re all running around like chickens with our heads cut off, trying to figure out which gimmicks to trust and which are just terrible ideas. The good news is, there are tried and true methods out there guaranteed to help you lose that fat. The bad news? You’re going to have to work a little bit.
Instead of telling you that there’s only one exercise, or food, or pill that’s going to fix your problems, I’m going to tell you HOW to workout, ( in another post I’ll tell you HOW to eat) but the WHAT, WHEN, and even WHY are up to you. That will give you the opportunity to lose weight doing what you love, not by dragging yourself to the gym every day to do the same exercises that nobody likes.
So let’s get to it. The main goal for your workout is going to be getting the heart rate up really high for short, sustained bursts, with recovery periods short enough that your heart rate is still elevated when you start the next exercise. This is called High Intensity Interval Training, from here on out referred to as HIIT. The science behind HIIT is more complicated than you really need to know, but to simplify it for you – HIIT puts your heart rate into the “fat burning zone”, elevated to the point that oxygen alone is no longer enough fuel for your muscles. Thus, your body is forced to burn the excess fuel you’ve stored up, aka fat. Another bonus -This effect on your metabolism lasts much longer than the workout itself, so you’ll be burning extra calories for a while. Below is a graphic from kimmerleplan.com that demonstrates these zones. Keep in mind you’re trying to stay above that “extended cardio” line, so you don’t have to be at the gym all day.
How do you achieve this state of HIIT training? I’ll give you some examples. The most obvious one is if you like to run. Next time, instead of running a mile, do 16 100 yd sprints with 30-45 seconds rest in between. If that’s too hard start with 4 and work your way up. Or, if you like the exercise bike, pedal hard for 45 seconds with resistance, then soft with no resistance for 15, and repeat for as many minutes as you can handle. If you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t be going for much longer than 5 mins. If you like to lift weights, do 5-10 sets of lighter weight to exhaustion, taking about 15-45 seconds rest between each one.
As you can see through the listed examples, it’s really easy to turn any workout into a HIIT workout. The final benefit, and perhaps the biggest in today’s hectic world – since these workouts are so high intensity, you can fit your entire day’s load into a 20-40 minute workout, and end up in better shape than someone who spends hours in the gym.
Can anyone do this? Well, barring any injuries or heart problems, I’d say yes. Obviously consult with a doctor first, but as long as you’re able to push yourself physically you’ll be fine.
“But what if I don’t know how to push myself, or what ‘pushing myself’ really is?” you might ask. If you’re in that boat, which many of us are, the easiest way to track that and learn your limits is with a heart rate monitor. I like to use this monitor/stopwatch combo from Polaris. It’s a little pricier than some other monitors on the market, but the convenience and durability factors make it well worth the extra money.
The monitor takes the guess work out of the equation. Are you really at your limit, or are you just lazy today? Check the monitor. You’ll figure out pretty quickly what you’re able to do, and the monitor provides an easy source of self-accountability.
Now that I’ve given you the workout tools (I hope you didn’t just scroll down to the bottom without reading!), you’ll be well on your way to melting fat off of your body. Stay tuned for our post on “How to Eat to Lose Fat”.