This may be the most important article a personal trainer will ever read.
It doesn't matter how many high level science courses you attend, or how many degrees you acquire, your clients will almost always come to you with the same goals.
"I want to lose some weight."
It's reminiscent of when I was in massage school and learning all sorts of fancy tissue release moves only to see an endless stream of people wanting me to just focus on their upper back and neck.
There is WAY too much focus on calories burned in the gym. You simply cannot burn enough calories in the gym to produce the deficit you need to start dropping pounds. Your focus should be on producing 24-hour fat burning efficiency.
There are no tricks here. It's all about your aerobic system.
In order to produce energy, your body has three different energy-making systems. Each one of them produces energy at different speeds. The faster your body needs energy, the more your body shifts away from the aerobic system.
The aerobic system is the ONLY energy system that uses fat for energy. It is the only system that has enough time to go through the process of breaking it down.
Producing 24-hour fat burning efficiency comes down to how well does your aerobic system work. If it is working at a high level, you will be burning fat all day long. Thus your focus in the gym should be on aerobic system development if your goal is fat loss.
There's a few things to keep in mind if you're going to do this...
- You shouldn't be out of breath: Being out of breath is a sign that your body is shifting into the speedier, anaerobic energy systems. If this is happening, you are no longer training for 24-hour fat burning efficiency.
- Keep your heart rate between 130-140: If your heart rate is going above this, it is also a sign that your body needs to produce energy at a faster rate. Just like being out of breath, this is a signal that you are now shifting into the wrong energy systems for fat loss. If it is going below this threshold, now you may not be giving your body enough of a challenge to produce the change you want. You are trying to IMPROVE your aerobic system which requires you to make it somewhat challenging.
- Don't make it easy: The aerobic system is designed to work for a long time and ultimately we want it to be working for the full 24-hours to produce that high level of efficiency. Training for fifteen minutes is just not going to cut it. Aerobic system training should last somewhere between 30-90 minutes.
- Spice up your exercise selection: It doesn't really matter what exercises you choose if all you're looking for is fat loss. Just keep your heart rate in the zone for the entire training time. Plus a wide variety of exercises is super healthy for your brain. You also don't need to be in the gym. You just need the heart rate. Go outside if you want. Hiking is arguably the best option.
Hopefully you are beginning to see how the small amount of calories you burn in a high intensity gym workout pale in comparison to the massive number you could burn over the course of an entire day with a premiere aerobic system. It's a lot like choosing a financial investment. You could try to make a quick buck with a riskier investment or you could go for the slow burn and invest with a highly successful long-term strategy.
Warren Buffet, the famous stock-market billionaire, was once asked why people don't just copy his methods.
His answer, "because nobody wants to get rich slow."
The same thing applies to weight loss. This post can serve as your blueprint. Whether you stick to it or not is up to you.
Read part two of this weight-loss series to learn what specific strategies you can use.