The other day a regular treadmill user whose weight loss efforts had derailed asked me the best way to kickstart her toning aspirations. I told her resistance training and diet. She said ‘oh’ and headed back for more treadmill.
Hey, if me saying more cardio makes you happy then knock yourself out. Just don’t expect big changes.
When traveling south, prepping for an upcoming event or slimming down for the summer, make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your shaping buck. Spinning your wheels isn’t an option with the clock ticking.
Below are the best body-shaping strategies in order of priority. Sure, all exercise is great, but you need to be specific when trying to ignite change. Beyond the physiology of each tactic, try to understand the logic behind its place in the list.
It’s not breaking news that lifting weights transforms your body. This is especially important for women, who have a harder time gaining muscle and dropping fat than men. Boosting testosterone and spurring a sluggish metabolism through weight training is important for greater overall results.
The reason this sits at number one, however, is because your body responds quicker to resistance training than diet or cardio. Some notice a difference after the first workout. Quick results are important (especially when you’re not 100 per cent sold on the whole exercise thing) as early success tends to influence other positive behaviors like commitment and portion control at the dinner table.
Tip: According to a study reported in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (Radaelli et al. 2015), the best shaping (hypertrophy) results comes from lifting five sets per exercise. Remember to keep things simple — approximately three workouts per week, three to four exercises per session. Quantity should never compromise quality.
If you’ve been counting calories and not seeing results you may want to give Time Restricted Eating (TRS) a try.
Simply put, TRS follows the feeding patterns of our ancient ancestors. Until relatively recently, eating was done to fuel physical work and safeguard survival. Waking up alive was an accomplishment, followed closely by hunting and gathering. When it got dark, more sleep. Rather than feeding all day, cavemen ate when they could — probably once a day, often not at all.
Today, we sluggishly roll out of bed to a dose of caffeine and sugar followed by more caffeine and sugar. This goes on for most of the day and into the evening, when we switch to decaf and alcohol. Unable to fully process calories and sugar between ‘feedings’, we simply park it as fat.
With TRS you want to open your non-feeding window as wide as possible, allowing your body time to process calories. According to recent studies this is good for both longevity and weight loss. Push the muffin off late into the morning and stop eating by six.
Tip: For more information on Time Restricted Eating, check out Dr. Satchin Panda, Dr. Peter Attia and Dr. Jason Fung on YouTube. By the way, no one needs a muffin.
Arguably, perseverance should hold the number one spot on this list. The problem is, its boring.
Weight loss success comes from trial and error — it’s never a straight line. The best exercise program prescribed by a Hollywood trainer-to-the-stars produces nothing if you skip workouts.
People who exercise with friends, family, or a trainer achieve much better results than those who go it alone. Why? Someone is counting on you. We’re fine disappointing ourselves but think twice about letting someone else down.
Tip: “People who achieve great feats, no matter what field, understand that failure is not a stumbling block but a stepping stone on the road to success.” – Tal Ben-Shahar
Sliding in at number four is cardio! While steady state cardio burns calories during exercise (whole donut in; half donut out), weights burn calories during and after exercise — not to mention a laundry list of benefits that accompany weight training. Interval cardio training tends to burn more calories than both steady state cardio or weights in less time.
Tip: Despite my attempt to throw shade at overly optimistic cardio thinking, it may be your best bet if you aren’t willing to try anything else. To be clear, regular cardio has many benefits — just don’t expect the treadmill to tighten muscle or absolve you of diet sins committed throughout the day.
In the game of rock-paper-scissors, weights crush cardio and diet covers both weights and cardio.