By Dan Eiden
1) Do weight/strength training as your primary form of exercise. Weight training is the best form of exercise for fat loss. You can build muscle and lose fat while sculpting your body. If you increase the amount of lean muscle you have you will also increase your resting metabolic rate which is how many calories you burn at rest.
2) Build your training program around big, multi-joint exercises that work the most muscles, burn the most calories and get the most bang for your buck. Focus on free weight and body weight exercises using barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells. Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, chins ups, presses and rows work the body in all the major movement patterns the body moves in and are the foundation of a good strength training program.
3) Follow a progressive training program. There is a difference between training and working out. Working out is what most people usually do. Working out is just going into the gym and exercising for the sake of exercising with no real structure or plan. This may work for a short period of time if you are new to exercise or are just getting back into the gym after an extended break from training but your results will come to a standstill if you don't have a structured training program that is progressive in nature. That is what training is. Training is exercising and working out with intent and with a plan to progressively get better and improve to get you to whatever fitness or athletic performance goals you may have.
4) Don't focus on cardiovascular exercise as your primary form of exercise for fat loss. Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of any fitness program. The importance of cardiovascular exercise is for strengthening the cardiovascular system and cardiorespiratory system as well as being important for mental health. Although it can contribute to some extra calorie burning it is not the best tool for fat loss.
5) Focus on your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). This is the calories and energy you expend in everything you do that is not sleeping, eating or structured exercise or sports. This includes all the steps and movement you do each day. It includes things such as taking your dog for a walk, household chores and yard work and walking to and from your car. Take the average of how many steps you do each day over the course of the last month. The best thing nowadays is we can track all this on our phones and watches. Now try to increase this by 500 to 1,000 steps a day. Once you do this for a while you can increase it even more. You can do things like taking an extra walk, parking further away at stores you go to, pace on your phone while talking and taking the steps instead of the elevator. All steps add up and over the course of weeks, months and over the course of a year it can result in significant fat loss.
6) Don’t waste too much time on isolation exercises, especially if it is in an attempt to try to spot reduce an area of your body. Isolation exercises are exercises that work primarily at one joint of the body and focus on primarily one part or muscle of the body. Isolation exercises have their place and purpose in any training program but they shouldn't be the foundation of your training program. You cannot spot reduce or bring out definition in an area of your body or a certain body part. You can do all the abdominal exercises you want but you won't bring out any cuts or definition or lose any body fat there from doing them. Your body loses fat from wherever it is genetically programmed to lose it from. It is why you will never see a person with fat arms and a ripped midsection but you will see the opposite quite often.
7) Nutrition is the most important factor in fat loss. Without a proper nutrition program you can do all the exercise you want but you won't achieve your fat loss goals. A proper nutrition program should be of the utmost importance. Follow a diet consisting of a wide variety of all natural foods in the proper balance and in the proper portions. Almost any type of nutrition program can work whether it is vegan, paleo, low carb or intermittent fasting. The key is consistency and making calories count by eating the right foods, in the right balance and in the right portions.
8) Don’t fall for gimmicks, fads or trendy new exercise programs promising quick results. There are no quick fixes or shortcuts to getting in shape and losing body fat. It is a process. No one gets out of shape overnight and no one gets in shape overnight. For most people aiming for a half a pound to a pound of fat loss a week is a good, realistic goal.
9) Practice stress management. Any fitness related goal has to have a complete, multi-pronged approach. Fat loss goals are no different. Managing your stress is very important. Everyone experiences stress and has periods of high stress in their life but chronically high stress levels can wreak havoc on your fat loss goals. Chronically high stress levels will elevate cortisol. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone which breaks down muscle tissue. Chronically elevated cortisol can cause muscle loss and can also impair your ability to lose body fat. Chronically high stress levels have also been shown to be related to abdominal obesity. Meditation is a great practice that can help in managing stress and cortisol levels.
10) Get consistent and quality sleep. Getting consistent and quality sleep is an often overlooked but important part of any fat loss goal. Try to get consistent sleep by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Aim for about 8 hours of sleep a night. Also try to get quality sleep. All sleep is not created equally. Getting deep, uninterrupted, quality sleep allows for proper recovery, hormone production and can make a big difference when it comes to fat loss.