Although it’s probably the No. 1 new year’s resolution, successful weight loss eludes most people, including those who need it most. I’ve written about weight loss before, and shared my most effective strategies yet I realize that there are still many people who struggle when it comes to dropping a few pounds.
Because there is so much conflicting information about how to lose weight, many people are confused and overwhelmed by the thought of it. Every second magazine I see in the stores promises to help you get a flat tummy or rock-hard abs in a few short weeks. I saw one the other day advertising how you could lose 30 pounds in three months like a famous pop star.
If you’re determined to lose weight and are looking for some direction, here’s a no-nonsense, tried-and-true program for building muscle, burning fat and being happy with your body. I can’t actually make you follow through every step of the way, but I can be sure you know what to do and how to do it.
Always consult your physician before beginning or modifying your fitness program.
Weekly training schedule
I truly believe that an individual should be able to maintain their body weight at desirable levels by doing regular resistance training and eating properly. You shouldn’t need to grind away at cardiovascular exercise for hours each week just to keep from gaining fat. If this is the case, then you’re eating too much. For anyone whose goal is to steadily lose body fat, I find some cardio is helpful, and the following schedule works very well:
Full body resistance training program — 40 to 60 minutes
Cardiovascular exercise — 30 to 45 minutes
■ Saturday: Be active
■ Sunday: Rest
The full-body resistance training sessions will jump-start your metabolism by stimulating your muscle tissue. This will increase the number of calories that you burn during all activities. By training the body on non-consecutive days, you’ll give your muscles time to recover and repair so they’re ready to go for your next workout.
The cardiovascular activity days will improve your cardiovascular health, while burning extra calories.
Having a day on the weekend for activities like cycling, hiking, kayaking or sports will ensure enough variety in your week to prevent boredom, while providing a cross-training benefit. Resting your body one day per week is essential for re-charging your engine and keeping your energy levels up.
The full-body workouts recommended in this program aren’t specific when it comes to particular exercises, and the exercises can be changed from one session to the next. The important thing is that you use as much of your muscle mass as possible for the duration of the training session.
The more muscle mass you use, the more calories you’ll burn, and the greater the benefit, both during the workout and afterward.
One approach is to take all of the major muscle groups in the body and pair them up.
The three larger muscle groups that require compound exercises are the legs, back and chest.
The smaller muscle groups that are targeted with more isolated exercises are the shoulders, biceps and triceps.
Pair a large group with a small group (such as legs + shoulders; back + triceps; chest + biceps) and choose two exercises for each muscle group.
Perform three sets of 10 to 15 reps of the first exercises, alternating between the muscle groups, then move on to two sets of 10-15 reps for the next exercises. Repeat for each pair of muscle groups.
A workout might look something like this:
■ Resistance exercises, such as the following
Squats and DB shoulder press — 3 sets 10-15 reps
Walking lunges and upright rows — 2 sets of 10-15 reps
Seated cable rows and overhead tricep rope — 3 sets of 10-15 reps
Lat pulldowns and bench dips — 2 sets of 10-15 reps
Incline DB press and barbell curls — 3 sets of 10-15 reps
Pushups and DB hammer curls — 2 sets of 10-15 reps
■ Core work
This may seem like a lot of sets but if you keep moving from one exercise to the next, and only rest when changing exercises, you’ll get through the whole workout, including warm-up and core work, in 45 to 60 minutes.
Nutrition: The key ingredient
There are dozens of books and websites devoted to eating for weight loss. I’ve seen so many of my clients succeed with the approach of eating four to five small meals, evenly spaced throughout the day, that I’m not sure why anyone would do anything else. Choose high quality foods, avoid snacking, and keep sugars, fats and alcohol to a minimum. Limit the amount of carbohydrates that you eat in your last two meals of the day.
Keeping a food diary of everything you eat will help keep you accountable, and drinking lots of water will improve your digestion, absorption and removal of waste products.
Rob Williams is a kinesiologist and posture specialist in downtown Vancouver: williamshealthgroup.com
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