As a Personal Trainer of over 10 years, and one that has trained many, many females with fat loss goals, you can bet that I’ve heard it all before.

Women that come to me wanting to lose body fat. That have been trying unsuccessfully to do it on their own, but for some reason feel that they know better than me on what they should be doing in their training sessions.

That point of contention is usually to do with not wanting to lift weights too often (or at all).

“I don’t want to get bulky”

“Lifting weights will make my thighs big”

“Why aren’t we doing cardio”

“Maybe I should just go running every day”

And the list goes on…

Firstly, the primary aim of training should be fat loss. A focus on fat loss instead of weight loss will improve your chances of long term success.

Weight loss on its own is easy. Just don’t eat much and do a lot of activity (I tried this for most my teens).

You’ll lose weight but there’s a 99% chance you’ll put it all back on and some more (because when we don’t eat for an extended period, chances are we’ll binge hard later).

You’ll also be miserable. Food is not only sustenance but an enjoyable social ritual.

Fat loss (and the ideal training to achieve it) is all about having the right plan. A plan based on the solid science of thermodynamics.

Not on the crazy whims of what goes through our heads.

Muscle is smaller than fat on a pound for pound basis.

Therefore, if we can increase or maintain muscle while decreasing fat, you will get smaller, leaner and most likely drop some dress sizes

This might not show as much on the scales (especially if you’re not carrying much excess weight), it will be visibly noticeable to the eye though.

If you are already of smaller size (size 8-10), you’ll probably stay about the same weight or maybe even put a little on. Don’t spiral into meltdown mode though! You will look smaller and firmer whilst getting stronger and fitter.

If you are larger and have more body fat to lose, initially you won’t see much change on the scales, this is because as you lose body fat, you’ll likely be putting muscle on.

Putting lean muscle on is extremely beneficial as it’ll mean not only an increase in muscle (which is health promoting), but also an increase in the amount of calories you burn at rest.

We spend a lot more time resting than training so changing the body to be able to burn more energy at rest is a SMART approach.

This increase in muscle will generally be anywhere from 2-6kg and over the first 6-10 weeks of training. After that point muscle will stabilize and you’ll see the scales come down as you lose more stored fat.

*Side note, lots of aerobic exercise will decrease lean muscle, slow your metabolic rate, reducing the amount of fat you burn at rest and increase the likelihood of ‘skinny fat’ syndrome and weight gain later.

So, back to training.

The best way to achieve fat loss is with strength/bodybuilding orientated training (don’t be scared off by the term ‘bodybuilding’, think of it more as ‘fat destroying’).

Lots of sets per workout (20-40) and with heavy to moderate weights at moderate rep ranges (6-20).

This style of training will (as you are doing it) break down muscle tissue. The response to this will be that your body invests energy into rebuilding that muscle to be thicker and stronger.

Energy that would otherwise have gone to fat storage!

Now don’t be put off by the word ‘thicker’, the difference is negligible when it comes to the dreaded bulk and what is visible. You’ll also notice from the image above that you can put on weight (in the form of muscle) and look a lot smaller.

Really, you’ll just look firmer and more ‘toned’ for use of a better term. It will increase your metabolic rate, make your tummy and thighs firmer, reduce and remove your muffin top and turn you into a fat burning machine.

In essence we are choosing strength training as our preferred modality of exercise because it has a more dramatic effect on fat loss, both during and after the session.

This differs to running and cardio based activity which will decrease lean muscle and reduce the amount of energy you burn at rest.

Cardio (in particular interval or HIIT) can be very complimentary to lifting, provided that you prioritise gaining and maintaining muscle first and foremost.

If you’ve invested the time in building and maintain muscle, doing some sprint or interval training will compound returns and give you a lean athletic look.

The allocation of time between strength and cardio (preferably intervals, stairs or some other type of HIIT), should be about 80/20 or even 90/10.

Forget about Yoga and Pilates for fat loss, they do nothing (Sorry, it’s science).

For the body to change, we’ve got to put it under a level of stress that will take some time and energy to recover from.

Nutrition, the missing link.

Once we have our training sorted, we need to plug in the correct nutritional strategies. FOR if we lift, run or do any other type of exercise whilst consuming an overabundance of energy (either as food OR drink), we will not see the change we desire.

We can learn a lot about this from the world of bodybuilding and figure competition.

They are the world champions of fat loss and getting lean.

How do they do it?

By training as I talked about above and being meticulous with their nutrition. They also understand that it takes time and consistency.

Forget about 6-week transformation and focus more on 6,12 or 18 month transformations.

By training 4-8 times per week consistently for months on end, whilst slowly and slightly reducing total energy intake, you will guarantee fat loss.

*To get more help with this shoot me a message and we can talk about how my Food Coaching Program can help you.

Some of the basics

  • Focus on hitting your protein target each day. 2-4g per kg of body weight, spread out evenly over 4-6 meals.
  • Carbs around training to fuel your workout.
  • Caloric intake to support your training without excesses that will be stored as fat.
  • Lots of fibre and green veggies.
  • Heaps of water.
  • Good fats for healthy hormones (very important in fat loss).
  • Factor alcohol into your daily/weekly energy intake.

About the Author

Alana Lowry

Alana Lowry is a Personal Trainer with over 10 years industry experience. After beginning her working life as a nurse, she decided that she wanted to help people achieve health and wellbeing from a slightly more pro-active realm. Alana is the former owner of a unique gym/café concept in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs and is the current owner/co-founder of GTT Performance Centre.

Alana is passionate about helping women get past their limiting beliefs in achieving a leaner and healthier body and body image.

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