Whether it's being efficient in returning emails, loading the dishwasher, studying, designing programs for clients, cooking, or training in the gym, you can believe I am doing each of these in the most efficient manner I know how.
Needless to say, inefficiency drives me crazy.
You know what else drives me crazy?
Not getting results.
Why don't most people get results when it comes to losing weight? Other than the lack of motivation and knowledge (which I'm working hard to change!), most people say they just don't have enough TIME.
I hear it every day...
"I don't have time to exercise."
"I don't have time to cook a healthy meal."
"I don't have time to sleep eight hours a night."
"...BUT, I want to lose 20 pounds by spring break. "
Hmmm. This makes being EFFICIENT that much more important.
I'm here to tell you that when it comes to fat loss, EFFICIENCY = SUCCESS
Quality > Quantity
I believe we need to start thinking in terms of, "what is the most important thing I can do for fat loss?"
Alwyn Cosgrove wrote an article about this very concept; a hierarchy of what needs to be done first when it comes to successfully losing fat. Listening to Mike Wunsch on the StrengthCoachPodcast while working out today inspired me to finish this article (I started this back in November!),
so let's get to it...
Getting adequate sleep sets the stage for making good decisions during the day. From exercising in the morning (rather than hitting snooze), to coming home after work and still having enough energy to cook a healthy meal. Again, sleep sets the stage for success.
Don't think you have enough time to sleep 7-8 hours per night? For the next three days, write down exactly how you spend each minute during your day. I think you might be surprised at how much time you (WE) spend on social media. Or any other activity that isn't as important as getting some quality shut-eye.
Martin Rooney goes a bit more in-depth on the importance of sleep here.
"You can't out work a bad diet."
Simple as that.
Although eating less/healthier/etc. is easier said than done!
I recommend getting rid of any temptation you may have in your house (cookies, ice cream, soda), and making a plan for the week each Sunday evening. Heck, if you have time, cook all of your meals Sunday evening! That way, when you don't have time during the week, you can still eat a nutritious meal rather than stopping at Burger King.
3) (see point #2)
That being said, if you burn a few hundred calories per day in addition to eating a few hundred calories less per day, you will lose weight.
Alan Aragon once said, “Caring about how much fat is burned during exercise is equivalent to worrying about how much muscle is built during exercise.” In other words, substrate utilization during exercise isn’t really an important variable in the big picture of fat loss – total calories burned overall is (i.e. get your nutrition on POINT first).
What type of exercise is best?
Two hours on the treadmill? High intensity interval training?
What about if I only have a limited amount of time per week to exercise?
Here is the breakdown of what type of exercise you should do based on the amount of time you have to exercise each week...
*If you have:
<3 hours per week to exercise
Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT)
Metabolic resistance training is basically circuit-style weight lifting (little rest between exercises). MRT burns calories, promotes/maintains muscle mass, and elevates metabolism; exactly what we want to accomplish when it comes to exercising for fat loss. The majority of our fat losses will be as a result of our nutrition, but if we can work to build (or maintain) our muscle mass while burning calories and elevating our metabolism in the meantime, MRT must be a priority.
Here is an example of a metabolic resistance training workout:
1) Squats x 20
2) Push ups x 15
3) Single Leg RDLs x 10 each leg
4) Pull ups x 15
5) Lunges x 20 (10 each leg)
6) Renegade Rows x 24 (12 each arm)
7) Step Ups x 20 (10 each leg)
8) Curl and press x 15
It's important to use caution when performing MRT with exercises such as cleans, deadlifts, and squats. These exercises are very demanding and require a lot of focus.
*If you have:
3-6 hours per week to exercise
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
This type of training s*cks. HIIT is repeated bouts of all-out effort, lasting anywhere from 10-30 seconds. Think sprints on the basketball court. Note that HIIT can be done on a spin bike, elliptical, incline walking, or even in the pool. Anything that you can produce all out effort for a brief period of time (folding clothes does not count).
Having more than 3 hours to dedicate to training for fat loss means that once you complete your 3 hours of metabolic resistance training (45 minute sessions x 3 days wk), HIIT training is the next step.
An example of a HIIT routine would be...
All-out effort for 15 seconds, recover for 30-45 seconds, and repeat. Again, this can be done while walking, on a bike, sprinting, swimming, etc.
*Due to the intensity of HIIT, it isn't recommended for those just beginning an exercise program
>6 hours per week
Steady state aerobic training
What???? You mean to tell me that going out and running for 60 minutes, or hopping on the elliptical for 2 hours isn't the first thing I should do when exercising for fat loss? What about the fat burning zone????
First things first.
The "fat burning zone" is a myth.
"But Trent, the treadmill at the gym told me to exercise at 65% of my max because that burns the most fat!"
If you want to get scientific about it, our body actually burns the highest PERCENTAGE of fat for energy while we are at REST. Fat is the substrate of choice at low intensity, but that doesn't mean it's best for fat LOSS. Overall caloric expenditure is best...and that is done by MRT and HIIT.
*If you are dedicating 6 hours per week to performing MRT and HIIT sessions and still aren't losing weight, I'd make some changes to your nutrition*
Steady state aerobic training, or low intensity repetitive exercise for a long duration, should only be done after you complete your metabolic resistance training and high intensity aerobic training sessions...which basically means steady state aerobic training should be used as a RECOVERY mode of exercise; that way, you can train hard during your MRT or HIIT the next day.
Step 1) Get adequate sleep
Step 2) Get your nutrition "in shape" (pun intended)
Step 3) Get your nutrition "in shape" (no pun intended)
Step 4) Prioritize your exercise sessions based on time available
Step 5) Get in the best shape of your life
There you have it. You are now equipped with the knowledge to lose fat efficiently.
If you still want to use the "I don't have time to sleep/eat right/exercise" excuse, well, then, I guess you will just remain fat for the rest of your life.
If you want to make a change, you can. Anything is possible (Kevin Garnett voice)
Make it happen, folks.