Five biggest fat loss training myths
Personal trainer David Fletcher exposes the lies you've been told.
Fat loss myth 1
‘Stick to cardio for weight loss’
Evidence suggests that, for some body types, steady-state cardio can increase your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that prevents optimum fat burning. Steady-state cardio also lacks intensity, which means it will fail to stimulate your fast-twitch muscle fibres – an essential part of lasting fat-loss results. This is why weight training adds such enormous value to fat-loss routines. Follow a programme that’s suited to your genetic make-up. Whatever your body type, there will be a specific mixture of cardio, weights and intervals that suits you and will allow you to burn the maximum amount of fat both during and after exercise.
Fat loss myth 2
‘It’s all about volume and frequency’
‘The more exercise the better’ simply doesn’t apply to all people when it comes to shedding fat. Anything is better than nothing, of course, but if you are already active, focus on intensity rather than volume and frequency. I have seen staggering results when I have reduced someone’s exercise volume and replaced sessions with higher-intensity routines. After a high-intensity workout (such as heavy weight training with short rests, sprints or kickboxing) your body will burn fat for up to eight hours, while an hour-long steady-state run might only give you one hour’s worth of post-workout fat-burning.
Fat loss myth 3
‘Cardio before weights in a workout’
Higher-intensity exercise maximises fat loss, so it makes no sense to do cardio before performing lifts. Weights and sprints require the most muscle-fibre recruitment and have the greater cross over to fat loss, which is why they must come first. Start each workout with the biggest, most intense and heaviest exercises and finish with the shorter, lighter and less intense ones. It’s not wrong to mix weights and cardio together; just make sure that the weights come first. There’s nothing wrong with non-linear training – mixing up the reps, sets, rest periods and exercises to suit the individual – as long as you don’t try to do everything in every session.
Fat loss myth 4
‘The more sit-ups you do, the better your abdominal definition’
Sit-ups worsen your posture, often cause back pain and fall short when it comes to achieving lean abs. In short they are not a good exercise! Instead, choose exercises that work your abs. For example, assume a plank position with your arms on a gym ball and slowly roll the ball away from you and then back, using only your arms and keeping your body still. This is a great core exercise which will not only work your abdominals, but will also help to strengthen your lower back.
Fat loss myth 5
‘High reps for fat loss, low reps for building muscle’
The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn at rest. High reps, ie 15 and above, simply won’t cut it – if a lack of lean muscle is holding you back from your optimum body composition, 12 reps and below is more like it. You don’t need to worry about bulking up as long as you get your nutrition right. To build the lean muscle mass you need for fat burning, place the priority on hypertrophy in the first training phase (4-6 weeks). Do routines that consist of 6-12 reps, splitting up the muscle groups. After this phase, you can address other goals such as improved fitness, flexibility and performance.
For more training tips and expert advice, get the magazine, subscribe now and get five issues for £5. For more from Dave Fletcher, go to theodysseyway.co.uk.