1. Set a goal for yourself and get real about achieving it.
Until you set a goal of how much body fat you want to lose, you are just dreaming. It needs to be specific and written down. If losing body fat is what you want to do, you must be willing to achieve it at all costs.
If you do not want to lose body fat enough, you will continue to give yourself reasons not to work out. Get real and tell yourself that you are going to do this, no matter what. Before any other step, this is the most important one.
If you are not real and serious about losing fat, all the other steps will not help you.
YOU MUST SET A GOAL FOR YOURSELF. You need a reason to keep going, to do cardio first thing in the morning, to skip that extra slice of pizza. You need a reason or you will not follow through.
So step 1 is to stop dreaming and start doing. Tell yourself you are going to achieve your goal no matter what. Write down what you want to achieve and then go after it!
2. Drink your life away! (well, not really)
If you have ever doubted the importance of water, try going a few days without it. You can live weeks without food, but only days without water. It is used in EVERY single physiological process your body undergoes.
It's importance cannot be stated enough, especially when it comes to fat-loss and fitness training. Shoot for at least a gallon a day, preferably more. The inconvenience of constantly using the bathroom is a minor drawback compared to the benefits you will receive.
Keep a bottle wherever you spend most of your day, at your desk at work, in your car, hell, wear a water bottle around your neck, but just get enough water.
3. Eat 5-6 (or more) small meals a day consisting of high protein, moderate carbs, and low-fat.
This is important in keeping your metabolism efficiently burning calories. Constantly grazing on meals every 3 hours will allow your body to burn off what it has consumed quicker and more efficiently.
Eating one or two larger meals will actually cause your body's metabolism to slow down. Skipping meals altogether will actually cause your body to store fat as a defense mechanism.
Your body is not sure when its going to get its next meal so it tends to store more in case of perceived famine. Make each meal consist of higher protein (builds muscle), moderate carbohydrates (fuel for the body) and low fat (energy and protection).
Use the 50-40-10 rule as an approximate guideline. 50% of your calories coming from protein, 40% carbs, and 10% fats.
4. Do INTENSE cardiovascular workouts 3-4 times a week.
This is where the majority of the calorie burning takes place.
Not necessarily from the cardio you just did, but from the fact that doing cardio increases your metabolic rate so that the rest of the day you will burn off more calories as well.
Treat your cardio days like you do your workouts. That means, put all of your energy and intensity into your cardio. Do 20-30 minutes of cardio 3-4 days a week. During a session of cardio, warm-up for 5 minutes, then do 20 minutes at a high intensity pace.
Then cool down for the last 5 minutes. Go at a fast enough pace where you are sweating, panting, huffing, puffing, turning red. Get your body out of homeostasis (everythings normal and in balance).
Doing cardio for the sakes of doing it will not burn fat. Going for a leisurely walk will not sufficiently burn fat, unless you walk ten miles. Riding a stationary bike while relaxingly reading the paper will not burn much fat.
Hey, it's only 30 minutes. Bust your butt for this time and the return on your investment will be great. Choose cardio machines that get more of your body moving. The more you move, the more you burn.
Stairmaster and running on the Treadmill are good examples. The recumbent bike is good also, because you can focus on high intensity without worrying about falling off. The more your whole body moves, the more energy you expend.
5. Do INTENSE Weight training at least 3-4 times a week.
Do not mistake weight training w/ trying to burn fat. Weight training will not burn a sufficient amount of body fat. What weight training will do is help you burn fat in the future. When you add muscle to your frame, your body has to expend more energy (burn more calories) to maintain that muscle tissue.
So when you are at rest, even sleeping, the more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you will expend. Weight training will not only strengthen existing muscle, but will add additional lean muscle tissue to handle any future demands placed on the muscle.
The more lean muscle tissue you have, the more calories you will expend at rest. Not bad, huh?
6. Figure out your daily energy expenditure and reduce it.
Most people do not like to calorie count, me included. But in order to properly lose body fat, you need to determine your daily energy expenditure or caloric maintenance level. You then need to reduce your energy consumption to be below your energy output.
It's difficult to place a number on how much below your consumption you should go, because everyone is different. A good place to start would be 150-200 calories below your maintenance levels.
Then continue to observe the effects in the mirror to determine if this number needs to be changed. If you continue to see no results, try reducing your energy consumption to 300 calories below your energy output.
7. Instead of a 30 minute cardio session, do 2, 15 minute sessions.
This is definitely a tough thing to do because of busy schedules, but if it is possible, do a 15 minute cardio session first thing in the morning and another session later in the afternoon or early evening.
Research has shown that compared with subjects that did a 30 minute cardio session, those that did 2, 15 minute sessions burned twice as many calories. Make each 15 minute session still very intense, which is easier to do if you are going 15 minutes.
Warm-up for 2-3 minutes and then go all out for 13-15 minutes, then cool down for 2-3 minutes.
Once again, if you can fit 2, 15 minute cardio sessions into your day (avoid doing it on weight-training days), you will burn twice the amount of calories than doing a 30 minutes session.
8. Continue to up your weight (overload) when doing resistance training.
Remember that building lean muscle will assist you in the fat-burning process later on. The more muscle you have, the more energy your body expends to maintain that muscle, even at rest.
In order to make constant and significant gains, remember to train intensely and for short durations. I like to call them "bursts of exercise!" Try and work no more than 2 muscle groups a workout, 3 workouts a week.
Or you can do 1 muscle group each workout, training 5-6 days a week in shorter bursts.
Keep reps lower than higher. This will cause you to maintain high enough resistance to add overload to the muscle, causing more muscle growth. Do only 2-3 heavy sets per exercise and keep workouts no longer than 45 minutes.
Keep your workouts intense and to the point. Do it and get out of the gym. DO NOT DO YOUR CARDIO BEFORE WEIGHT TRAINING! It's hard to focus intensely on both weight training and cardio in the same session. Do not rob one to pay the other.
These are 8 simple (well, not so simple if you do them well!) ways you can maximize fat burning while increasing the likelihood of not losing much muscle.
Cardio and proper nutrition are two of the most vital areas to focus on when attempting to shed fat and gain muscle.
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