You want to lose weight and get fit, so you know you need to start exercising right?
Maybe you’ve been exercising regularly for a while, but the weight isn’t shifting, so you’re thinking that you probably need to add more exercise to your week.
Perhaps you think that adding more cardio will do the trick. Or maybe instead of walking three times a week, you’re thinking of walking every day even though you’re already struggling to keep up with the exercise you’re already doing.
Exercise v Training
Where most people go wrong is not understanding the difference between exercise and training and the impact it has on their weight loss.
Exercise is physical activity done for the sake of being active, in the hope that it will lead to the body you want. The focus is short-term and the purpose is often to make the person exercising feel good about themselves. They like to think they’re doing something ‘good’ for their health, and to burn some calories to offset the guilt they feel at eating poorly.
The best workout routine to lose weight is a training program.
Training is doing physical activity for the purpose of achieving a long-term goal rather than just moving for the sake of it. Training isn’t about doing the exercise you like doing. It’s about doing what you need to do, to have the body you want.
Training for Weight Loss and Training for Fitness
A common belief is that adding in more cardio exercise is the way to shed weight. But if weight loss is your goal, your cardio activity needs to be something you’re inefficient at.
However, what most people do is choose one type of exercise – usually one they can already do — and do more of it. But this just means you become more efficient at it, which doesn’t guarantee weight loss.
For example, if a runner decides they want to lose weight, adding more running to his schedule won’t help him burn fat. It will just help him get better at running. However, if he added swimming or cycling to his workout routine — activities that he doesn’t usually do — then he’ll lose weight because his body is inefficient at these activities.
This is the difference between training for fitness and training for weight loss. This explains why there are people who’ve been going to the gym for years who never get results, or why there are overweight people who can run marathons.
Training is different to exercising because your workout routine is designed to achieve a certain goal that you have set. A good training program is structured, progressive and personalised in order for you to achieve the goal you’ve set. And it often combines resistance training (aka weights), cardio and other low intensity exercise.
A structured training program means that you know what you’re doing each time you do a workout. And you know why you’re doing it. So there’s no more deciding on the day, what type of exercise you feel like doing when you get to the gym. You’re also not wandering around aimlessly, looking for a vacant weight machine or a spare set of dumbbells.
Around 66% of our metabolism is influenced by muscle mass. Which means that the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism, and the easier it is for your body to burn fat. However, a weight program should involve progressive overload if you want to see any physical changes. This means a gradual increase in weight in order to achieve your goal. This gradual increase of stress placed on the body means you’ll build more muscle — which will fire up your metabolism.
But if you’re worried about weight training making you bulky, there’s no need. weight training will only make you bulky if that’s your goal. And a program that will make you bulky is different to one that will help you lose weight.
Finally, the ideal workout routine is one that incorporates rest and recovery. Most people think they need to exercise intensely every day of the week, and sometimes even twice a day. But this will only lead to burnout, injury and poor performance, and make it even harder for you to lose weight and keep it off in the long term.