A topic of hot debate in the health & fitness world has long been–what matters most when it comes to fat loss: exercise or nutrition? They are both important but I would say without a doubt it is 80% nutrition. You are what you eat–literally.
So you want to lose body fat and get in better shape for the summer months? You’ve fine tuned your nutrition, portions and macronutrient ratios and the scale is moving in the right direction do you still need to exercise since it’s primarily nutrition that matters? Absolutely–we all need to move to feel better, be healthier and look our best. Exercise is vital for those things and our mental and physical well being. And it will facilitate the fat loss but some methods/exercises are better for shedding fat.
A few of us may have an occupation or lifestyle which is physical on a daily basis such as a construction or field worker, athlete or farmer, etc. . . and if you’re tossing bales of hay all day, lugging concrete blocks around, sprinting up and down a field and moving functionally on a regular basis chances are you won’t need to go to a gym and chances are also good you don’t have much excess body fat to lose.
For the other 95% that sit at a desk all day or in a car for the majority of their workday do need a structured exercise program. That also includes stay at home moms and dads. You can lose the fat but to look and function your best you need to build/maintain lean muscle tissue and you’re not going to do that sitting on your duff all day or lifting nothing heavier than a 2 year old.By incorporating a sound exercise program along with your nutritional efforts you will expedite your fat loss along with build/maintain lean muscle tissue, strong bones, increase energy, improve physiological markers and you will look better.
Elements necessary for your exercise program MUST include:
- Lifting heavy things: weights, people, rocks, bales of hay, etc. You don’t need endless repetitions of light weight! Rather choose basic compound movements and stick with repetitions in the 6-12 range. Circuit the movements using one for legs, one for pull and one for push. One day includes vertical push/pull and the next includes horizontal push/pull. For the legs make one day quad dominant and the next hip dominant. Work both the anterior and posterior chains of the body.
- SPRINT!!! Yes, you must move and move with speed and intensity relative to your fitness level in a progressive fashion. Run, row, bike or climb; whatever you enjoy that doesn’t overtax your joints/capabilities.
- Mix it up: Do a sprint/lift heavy things combo to add variety and keep your body guessing. Lift something heavy 8 to 10 times, run, bike, row or jump for x number of meters/times/seconds and then throw in a core movement. Repeat for a desired number of rounds or a timeframe. Get creative with your workouts.
What about. . . ?
- Bodyweight exercises: good for beginners but after getting competent at these movements you will need to add auxiliary resistance to continue to see improvements
- Yoga, Tai Chi, deep breathing & meditation: good for overall well being, flexibility and improved mobility but not so much for fat loss. A great complement to sprinting and lifting heavy things.
- Those of us with adrenal/thyroid and other health challenges: you’re no different you still need to move and lift heavy things. You must go more slowly and not as often allowing recovery between efforts/workouts. Do not push too hard but you must push–gently. Listen to your body and find a balance for both healing and facilitating that healing with movement. Your body will not recover/repair/rebuild without movement and proper nutrition.
Your nutritional efforts are a lifestyle that is to be commended and will be rewarded in and of itself. Take them and your health to the next level by adding in the other 20% (exercise), and it doesn’t matter where you workout–at home, in a gym, at a park just so you do. A circuit style of heavy lifting and sprinting will be your best choice when it comes to burning off the fat. Ditch the long slow aerobic stuff. Build some muscle (highly metabolically active tissue), rev up your metabolism, improve hormonal output and watch the fat melt away!
About the Author
Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar.
Her exercise and nutrition programs yield life changing results