Contrary to popular belief, cardio (or at least steady state cardio) will not be the magical answer to your fat loss goals. In fact, it could result in a loss of muscle mass if not executed strategically and increase your adipose fat (that good ol' muffin top).
Here's why: when performing a steady-state activity such as walking on a treadmill for 45 minutes, you seemingly are burning more fat. Your body is actually consuming the most readily available energy option with minimal exertion which is your stored glycogen, intra-muscular fat and any blood glucose. Your body will not go right to those pesky fat cells that you are striving to get rid of without burning through the other energy sources first.
Alright, so now that we know this - what WILL target maximal fat loss? Enter the TOP 5 WORKOUT strategies...
1. Resistance/Strength Training
"If I lift weights, I'll get bulky!" Can we ALL agree that this is a ridiculous statement please? You need testosterone, and lots of it, in order for you to look like Arnold. Ladies, the most effective way to shape your body for long term results is to increase muscle mass, to tap into that higher intensity energy source and attack the fat from within by changing the composition of your body.
Next time you get to the gym, or even at home, opt to pick up the Dumbbells versus the Jane Fonda DVD, work on compound movements to target different muscle groups and engage those underused puppies for overall improvement in quality of life, let alone your new body shape.
HIIT is an acronym for HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING and it's popular not only for the results that ensue, but because it is often shorter in duration making it optimal for many busy ladies & moms who want to get results on a schedule.
Many associate HIIT with interval training with sprints and jogging, but it can be performed even paired with strength training. The key is setting and adjusting the interval ratios to match your current level of fitness and switching from an aerobic to anaerobic state with quick spurts of effort followed by rest.
A Tabata workout is a great example of bodyweight HIIT training that follows a 20 seconds of activity, 10 seconds of rest model and repeats for many rounds (8-16). This means the workout itself may only be 10 minutes long but you can burn more calories and ultimately more fat even after the workout has finished.
3. Fasted cardio
Okay - so I said cardio isn't ideal for fat loss. But if you read correctly, I said that improperly executed and unscheduled Cardio is not effective. Steady state CAN have a time and place for fat loss, but again when paired with a strategy.
Introducing FASTED CARDIO. It sounds just as it is - exercise in a fasted state, which ultimately means where you have not consumed any solid food for 8-12 hrs preceding or where insulin levels are the lowest or baseline.
Typically performed first thing in the morning upon awaking, exercising without food has its benefits including:
🔻Insulin impairs breakdown of fatty acids meaning if you exercise in a fed state, your body won't be using fat for fuel as effectively. Complete it fasted and you will be burning your stored fat!
🔻 Catecholamine (say what?) - these are chemicals in the body used to breakdown fat cells into energy. They travel through the blood to attach and mobilize to receptors and trigger release of energy of fat cells. With fasted cardio, blood flow is increased to those stubborn areas like abdomen meaning more catecholamine can reach them, triggering fat usage and fat loss! Woohoo!
4. Syncing with cycle
Did you know that hormones play a MUCH bigger role than calories to determine the outcome of your results? And Ladies, we have LOTS of them to regulate.
Knowing the type of exercise that is best to perform during each stage of your cycle can not only improve your success, but dramatically reduce PMS symptoms and those inevitable blues.
Days 1-7 of your cycle:
Best exercises: Yoga, Swimming & Walking
You may feel sluggish and unable to do a full dance routine but you don't need to skip your workout altogether! Aim for less intense during those first few days, focusing on how your body feels as the estrogen, testosterone and progesterone slowly increase. Drink more water!
Days 8-14 of your cycle:
Best exercises: HIIT, strength training & bootcamp/classes
Time to UP the intensity! The hormones are on the rise and your energy will get a nice little boost as well. Feel free to engage in your favourite high intensity classes, HIIT and pump those weights for sculpting lean muscle mass during this time.
Days 15-21 of your cycle:
Best exercises: Running, Barre, Pilates
Estrogen will start to take a little dip and the hormones may fluctuate. Energy will go WHOMP WHOMP, but don't give i