Since I started my personal training career, I’ve worked with many different women that have all asked the same question: how much exercise does it really take to burn fat? It’s a question that can be answered in many ways because no exercises are ever the same. Whether you’re focusing on steady cardio, strength training or high-intensity workouts, each provides different benefits and to get the most out of your exercise regime you should aim for a balance of these three.
To help make things easier for you, I’ve put together a brief article that explains the benefits of all three. After reading through it, you’ll have a much better idea of what each form of exercise could do for your body and how much of it you’ll need to do to burn fat more efficiently.
1. Long steady and endurance cardio
I’ve seen many people talk about cardio being the most effective way to lose weight, but it’s not entirely true. The best way to lose weight is to combine different exercises to give your entire body a great workout. Sadly, people don’t realise this, and they hate “exercise” because they think it’s all about running for an hour or riding a bike to and from work.
Cardio is all about increasing your heart rate so that your body uses more calories to lose weight. Since it works your heart, it also improves your stamina and helps you last longer during extensive workouts.
In short, think of cardio as a method to help you increase the amount of physical exercise you can do. While cardio itself can be used to lose weight, it needs to be combined with other forms of exercise for the best effect. Not only will your body get used to your routine if you keep doing the same exercises, but you’re not going to build muscle which is one of the most effective ways of increasing your daily calorie expenditure and thus lose weight.
How much cardio you need really depends on your goals and your lifestyle. Luckily, cardio is one of those things that you can incorporate into your daily life. For instance, cycling to and from work is a great way.
Strength training is the opposite of cardio training. Unlike cardio, strength training doesn’t rely on hours upon hours of exercise on a treadmill or bike. Instead, strength training is all about pushing your body’s limits by building your muscles and strength.
The goal behind strength training for weight loss is that the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body requires. Muscles don’t turn into fat if they’re not used, but they do require lots of calories to maintain. Hence, the more muscle you build from strength training, the better your chances of losing weight for good.
It’s important to note that 30 minutes of strength training does not burn the same number of calories as 30 minutes of running. Instead, the 30 minutes of strength training builds your muscles which will cause you to burn more fat over the entire day, not just during the time you exercise. As mentioned before, muscles need calories to maintain themselves, so the more muscles you have, the more calories you’ll spend even while resting.
Strength training has also been shown to have a beneficial effect on the flexibility of your shoulder and hip joints and your core, especially if you have been leading a sedentary lifestyle for too long.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is made up of two weight loss methods known as interval training and high-intensity training. The purpose is to boost your heart rate and help you maintain your muscle mass. This is a great way to blend both strength training and cardio, but keep in mind that while it is intense, it’s not demanding enough to actually make you build muscle over a longer period of time. For that, you’ll still need strength training.
Since HIIT is done in short bursts, it’s a great way to burn fat with less exercise. You’ll be combining different types of workouts and you’ll successfully shock your body with a variety of different exercises.
I believe that incorporating HIIT into your life needs to be done slowly. Because it’s stressful and intense, it can put a heavy strain on your body. Make sure you’re already used to cardio training at lower intensity and strength training before you attempt HIIT!
As you can see, a good balance of strength training, cardio sessions and HIIT will give you the best results when it comes to losing weight. There’s no simple answer to how much exercise it takes, but if you’d like to burn fat the most efficient way, you’ll need to incorporate many different types of exercise into your daily routine.
To give you an example, if you have capacity to exercise 3 times a week, you should be working your whole body on all three sessions. Two of these should include a form of strength training and at least one a 10-20 minute HIIT depending on your fitness levels. All three sessions should include some form of lower intensity or endurance type cardio training.
If you’re unsure what exercises to do or how to balance the three, don’t be afraid to contact me for more personal training advice.
Owner and creator of One Small Step, Joe has been in the health and fitness industry for 8 years and takes an all-round approach to his coaching.