Whether you are gaining or losing weight is down to your energy balance. A positive energy balance occurs when you are consuming more calories (food and drink) then you are expending (exercise and metabolism) each day. A negative energy balance is where you are consuming less calories than you are expending, and weight maintenance occurs when both the number of calories consumed and expended are roughly equal.
If you want to lose weight then you need to burn more calories throughout the day than you consume. This can be achieved by:
• Increasing the calories expended each day
• Reducing the calories consumed each day
• A combination of the two
When you sign up to a gym but don’t bother dieting you will probably create a small calorie deficit, which can lead to weight loss in the long term. If you go on a diet but don’t bother with exercising you will also create a small calorie deficit and eventually lose weight. If you join the gym and go on a diet, then you will create a larger calorie deficit as you are burning more calories than usual and you are consuming less calories too!
Fat loss is a little like a bank account. Your current body fat is like your current bank balance. If you spend more money than you earn on a particular day then your bank balance will reduce slightly. But the next day if you earn more than you spend your bank balance will return to normal. In the short term it doesn’t matter too much. However, if you consistently spend more than you earn then your bank balance will drop drastically over time. It’s the same with weight loss.
Staying in a calorie deficit will require your body to burn stored body fat as fuel to help maintain your metabolism. If you consistently stay within a calorie deficit over a long period of time then you will lose a lot of stored body fat and lose weight.
The best way to remove body fat is to follow a calorie deficit diet, which means eating less food than you need to each day for a prolonged period of time. The optimal way to achieve this is to find out your calorie requirements (you can use a weight loss calculator such as this one from Precision Nutrition ). Then you can calorie count to ensure that you are staying within a calorie deficit.
If that sounds like too much work, then you can just eat smaller portions, cut back on unnecessary snacking and find lower calorie versions of common meals.
These exercises have been picked as they burn a lot of calories, work a lot of muscle groups and go well together as part of a simple fat loss program.
This exercise burns a lot of calories, particularly when you use a challenging weight or perform enough reps. Set up the barbell in a squat rack, un-rack the bar, and squat down to at least parallel and then return to the starting position.
The ultimate calorie-burning exercise, the deadlift works most of the muscles in the upper and lower body and helps to strengthen the muscles of the lower back, spine, upper back, and core. Place a barbell on the floor, place your feet underneath the bar and grab it using an overhand grip. Push your shins against the bar and straighten your back by pushing your chest out.
Take a deep breath and then lift the bar upwards, pushing your hips forward until you are standing straight and the bar is in line with your upper thighs. Pause and then push your hips backwards and return the bar to the floor.
The bench press is a great upper body exercise that works the chest, shoulders, and your triceps (back of your upper arm). Lie on a bench holding a barbell using an overhand grip. Push your shoulder blades together and push your chest out. Bring the bar over your chest, pause, and then slowly lower the bar until it touches your chest. Pause, and then explosively drive the bar back upwards.
This exercise is great for working your upper back, and indirectly strengthening your lower back. The main thing to pay attention to is keeping your chest pushed out and your shoulders back while leaning forwards. Hold a barbell using an overhand grip while standing upright, the bar should be in line with your upper thigh.
Bend your knees and lean forward, maintaining a neutral spine. Stop when your chest is almost parallel with the floor. Keeping your shoulder blades pulled back, pull the bar towards your chest. Pause when it touches the chest and then slowly lower the bar back down to the starting position.
Any form of cardio (any exercise that raises your heart rate - running, spinning, etc) will do, many people can lose body fat just by increasing their daily step count. Alternatively, you could take up cycling, running, a team-based or solo sport, you could walk the dog more, or find your local swimming pool.
A way to macmize the benefits if you're limited on time is to incorporate compound exercises into your routine. Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time. An example of popular compound exercise is the squat, which engages many muscles in the lower body and core. Compound exercises are great for someone looking to improve their overall fitness but don't have time to work on single joint exercises. Cardiovascular, strength and flexibility are all benefits covered by compound exercises.
If you’ve found this article helpful and are looking at pursuing a career in personal training – where you can help others to learn about weight loss, then why not try our Behaviour Change Coaching course? It will help you teach clients how to exercise more, diet better, and make positive behaviour changes that will make both nutrition and physical activity easier to accomplish.