How to exercise for fat loss

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Exercise is essential for fat loss

Exercise is essential for fat loss

If you’re going to get ripped, you’re going to need to train for it.

We’ve discussed the part that a calorie controlled diet plays in fat loss, but not enough on it’s own. You’re going to have to hit the gym too.

But what do you do when you get there? And should you prioritise weights or cardio?

Do it two ways

If you want to get healthy you need to make cardio part of your daily life, as well as weight training. To optimise the rate at which you burn fat, we’re going to mix it up a little and combine both.

A word of warning: You might be ready to take on the challenge of working out, but is your body? If in doubt, or it’s been a long time since you last trained, a quick visit to your GP will make sure you’re fit to get fit.


High or moderate intensity cardio is important for shedding fat

High or moderate intensity cardio is important for shedding fat

We’re going to talk about two types of cardio workouts here, High Intensity Interval Training and Moderate Intensity Steady State cardio. Here’s the low-down on both:

1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

It’s pretty simple, take one exercise, go at it hard, rest, repeat.

It could be treadmill, bike, rowing machine, cross trainer – it doesn’t matter. A HIIT work out could look like this:

Warm up – five minutes jogging

Interval, Time
Sprint, 30 seconds
Active rest (walking), 1 minute
Sprint, 30 seconds
Active rest (walking), 1 minute
Sprint, 30 seconds
Active rest (walking), 1 minute

Repeat three times

Your aim is to exercise hard enough to get your heart rate to 85% of its maximum. To work out your maximum heart rate (MHR) subtract your age from 220.

By resting for twice as long as you exercise, you give your body time to recover fully so you can repeat the exercise.

As you get fitter, you can increase the number of reps until your HIIT cardio workout lasts 15 – 20 mins. This ensures maximum fat burning without your body switching to muscle tissue for fuel.

Think 15 mins doesn’t seem like long enough? HIIT has been shown to be more effective than steady state cardio for fat burning and muscle protection.

2. Moderate Intensity Steady State (MISS)

This includes exercises like jogging, swimming or cycling. They are great for chewing through the calories, but keep at them for too long and you’ll erode your muscles too.

Just take a look a marathon runner – they put in the distance, and the result is the physique of a string bean. Fine if you want to be an endurance athlete, not so good for the rest of us.

But for most, MISS sessions are fun. Think mountain biking, sea swimming, kayaking, hiking. Don’t miss out just because you’re shedding fat. Keep your sessions down to a couple of times a week – fun at weekends.

Pump iron

Resistance training will help you look good while you lose fat

Resistance training will help you look good while you lose fat

Resistance training helps you build the body you want while shedding fat through your HIIT programme.

Weight training increases bone density, toughens connective tissue and protects you from injury. You get to look good too.

Don’t reckon on your lean gains boosting your metabolism though. Instead, look at weight training as a part of a varied workout program that gets you fit for an active life. Work out three times per week.

If you’re new to weights, staff at your gym will be more than happy to give you an induction and provide a basic workout programme.

If not, you can these beginner programmes: Starting Strength and 5X5 Strong Lifts.


Got an hour to spend at the gym? Why not turbo charge your workout?

Split your HIIT and weights programmes in half and combine to make two interesting, varied sessions.

Over the week each muscle group gets at least two workouts, and you keep your cardio from getting boring.

Experiment – but just remember to take it steady to start with. As you adjust to your new regime, a certain amount of soreness is to be expected.

Important: If you feel any ill effects – stop and seek medical advice.

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