Myths surrounding effective weight loss training are common. Unfortunately there is so much poor contradictory guidance that many people just don’t know where to begin. Others are misled into trying miracle, rapid or quick-fix fads that bare limited results. This lack of results often leads to giving up on losing weight altogether.


Healthy Body Composition


According to the ACSM the benefits of a healthy body fat percentage of 10 to 22 percent for men, and 20 to 32 percent for women are well documented (see reference 1).

Excess body fat is associated with and not limited to the following health conditions:
  • hypertension
  • type II diabetes
  • stroke
  • coronary heart disease
  • hyperlipidemia


To determine your current body composition visit your local gym for an accurate assessment. Repeated every few weeks this will help your goal setting and motivation as you see your results progress.


The Calorie Balance


Calories are as important as exercise for weight loss. Consider your body to be like a bank account. If you spend more than you earn your balance will shrink and the same happens with your body.

Consume fewer calories than you use and your body will get smaller. A calorie deficit is needed in order for your body to lose weight. Create this calorie deficit by increasing exercise calories and decreasing calories consumed.


Exercise Burns Calories


Exercising can contribute to a calorie deficit although not all exercise is equal. To burn lots of calories the exercise must be high intensity and must recruit large muscle groups.

The more muscles that are recruited at once the better, as more calories will be burned. Exercises such as running and cycling performed in high intensity intervals are effective, and so are full body resistance exercises if performed correctly.


Resistance Training


McArdle, Katch and Katch suggest that gaining 1 pound in muscle mass increases your daily calorie needs by 7 to 10 kcal (see reference 2).

To stimulate muscle growth resistance exercises are effective and compound exercises that recruit large muscle groups over several major joints burn lots of calories.

Isolating parts of your body to remove fat in specific areas does not work. Instead perform 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 12 repetitions of several compound exercises such as squats, bent over row, chest press, lunges, lat pulldown and overhead press. Select weights for the repetition range so that you really begin to feel fatigue by the last few repetitions.


High Intensity Aerobic Training


Running, cycling or swimming can be effective exercise for fat loss. Performing high intensity intervals in any sport interspersed with recovery is more effective for fat loss than gentle steady state exercise.

An effective run session is to repeat 10 times 40 seconds of hard effort running with 80 seconds of recovery walk or jog. This short but effective fat loss run can be adapted to any aerobic sport.

Varying your format to include 5 to 12 sets of 10 to 90 seconds of hard effort will get good results. Recovery time should decrease proportionally as the interval time increases. For a 10 second interval aim for 30 to 60 seconds rest, for a 1-minute interval aim for 30 to 90 seconds rest and for a 90 second interval aim for 45 to 90 seconds rest.


Mixing Exercises


Best fat loss results are achieved by mixing high intensity aerobic exercise with resistance exercise. Try to exercise 3 to 5 times per week alternating your resistance sessions with aerobic training days. Always have a recovery day each week allowing you to refresh and get the most from your training.

If you get bored stay motivated by changing the variables you use such as weights, sets, repetitions, interval time and recovery time. Commit to long term results and you will get them. Remember it has taken time for you to put gain body fat, and through effective weight loss training you are sure to lose weight. Aim for a healthy weight loss of one to two pounds of body fat loss weekly for sustained weight loss.


Further Reading

ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription”; Mitchell H. Whaley Ph.D; 2006

Exercise Physiology”; William McArdle Ph.D, Frank Katch Ph.D & Victor Katch Ph.D; 2007

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