Everyone knows that if you want to be successful with reaching a goal, you have to prioritize. When it comes to fitness, the number one goal is fat loss. Sure people may use words and phrases such as "tone-up", "get-in-shape", "get ripped", "lose weight", "scuplt", etc, but all these goals are basically to strip fat off the body. However, most people fail miserably. Why? I believe a big part of the problem is that their priorities are wrong.
Several years ago I came across Alwyn Cosgrove's hierarchy of fat loss. I immediately liked it. It held true to everything I had learned through my university degrees, my teaching as a professor, my own training and my in experience training thousands of people. I also loved the simplicity (Smart people like Alwyn have a way of delivering complex information in a simple way).
If you are trying to lose fat, here is what your priorities should be and why:
1) Change your nutritionThe number one most important thing to do for fat loss is change your nutrition. Many people make the mistake of thinking that if they work really hard in the gym, take a fat burning supplement or use some "magical" exercise program, hire a trainer, buy the workout DVD's at Walmart or attend that latest fitness fad class they can keep eating the foods that made them fat in the first place and get ripped. Sorry, not going to happen.
2) Change your nutrition some more
Yes, it is that important. (I'll expand on fat loss nutrition in future posts).
3)Activities that burn calories 3 ways: burning calories during the activity, inducing EPOC to burn calories after the activity and building lean muscle to increase metabolic rate
As explained in my previous post Why Weight Training is so Effective for Fat Loss weight training is the really the only form of exericse that offers a three-way calorie punch.
4) Activities that burn calories 2 ways: burning calories during the activity and inducing EPOC to burn calories after the activity
Next to resistance training, high-intensity interval training is the next priority for fat loss. While you typically do not build lean muscle, you still burn calories during the activity and you still get the post-training caloric burn effect of EPOC. Any type of activity that is safe and appropriate for you that alternates periods of higher and lower intensity will work. For example, this morning, I did hill sprints. I sprinted up, walked down, waited a bit and then repeated. Simple? Yes! Effective - oh yah!
5) Activities that burn calories 1 way: during the activity
If you are doing all of the above and you still want to burn more calories, then by all means add some extra activity in. This could be low-intensity cardio, recreation, house chores, playing with your kids, taking the stairs, biking to work, etc.
The sad thing about these priorities is that most people go about it backwards. They start with low-intensity cardio and that works for a short while. Then, they dabble in higher intensity cardio or perhaps try some weights. Few, if ever really make permanent nutrition changes. Please don’t make this mistake. If fat loss if you goal, prioritize appropriately and enjoy the benefits!
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