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10 Top Fat Busters

Lose Weight, Maintain Muscle

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Updated November 12, 2012

Lat Pulldown

Lat Pulldown

(c) Paul Rogers / Cooloola Fitness

We've all heard the advice on how to lose weight, fat weight that is. Weight training, strength training, resistance training -- however you name it or perceive the differences -- features prominently in most modern recommendations.

One reason for this is that weight training goes some way towards helping you hold on to muscle while you lose fat -- and that has advantages. Overweight and obese people tend to build muscle as well as fat, but in the slimming process both can be lost. Even so, weight training alone is probably not the best approach to fat loss; you need an all-round program for best effect. Here are 10 top fat busters.

Pumping Iron

Weight training gets good press for weight loss because of two proposed 'killer' effects:

  1. It builds and maintains muscle, which raises your metabolism compared to fat.
  2. Weight training, at the appropriate intensity, promotes the afterburn, the energy you expend after you stop your workout (as opposed to energy expended during your workout).

While both of these effects can be useful if the workout is appropriately intense, they are peripheral to your main goal, which is to expend more energy than you consume in food and drink, overall. So, by all means include gym workouts in your weight loss program, but don't rely on pumping iron as the ultimate fat buster.

Food Selection

Eat healthy food. Now that's a loaded premise because you can read any amount of advice on what constitutes a healthy diet. However, it's not that difficult according to scientific consensus. Eat lots of plant foods and fiber, minimal amounts of saturated fats, moderate quantities of unsaturated fats, and minimal sugars and refined carbohydrates. You can mix and match a little for individual preference, but keep those plant foods high, of many colors, raw and cooked, and fats low to moderate in quantity.

Bodybuilding Techniques

The dietary regimen above is more or less the mainstream approach of successful bodybuilders. Bodybuilders know how to build and maintain muscle and reduce body fat to minimum levels -- as low as 5% for some successful male bodybuilders. Their techniques and approaches, although not mainstream, and excluding drug taking, provide useful templates for weight loss programs in general.

High Intensity Weights

Bodybuilding requires metabolic overload for best results. This means working those muscles until they complain seriously. This means pushing weights, sets and repetitions to the point where fatigue and muscle burning pull you up. Now that may not be possible for every weight loser with less fitness and workout experience, but it is still a good example of the sort of workout you need to approach for best weight loss results in the gym.

Interval Training

Interval training is high-intensity running or cycling for a relatively short time, recovering and doing it again. With interval training, heart rates are usually beyond 80% of maximum heart rate. At these intensities, and with sufficient volume, there is some evidence that the post-training energy expenditure, the afterburn, contributes to weight loss. Even so, you have to be able to withstand such intensities for appropriate durations. In other words, as with high-intensity weight training, you still have to do the work!

Cardio Volume

Cardio or aerobic training is a useful addition to weight training for targeting weight loss. Each bit of movement helps, but you still have to do the work. Strolling around the block at a leisurely pace is better than nothing, but jogging around the block so that you pant and sweat is much better. At least 30 minutes at a heart rate above 70% is recommended, 4-5 days a week.

Dietary Restraint

Eating healthy foods is one thing; but knowing how to limit your consumption is a complementary and necessary skill. One golden rule is not to eat to reward yourself for doing exercise. It's far easier to consume 300 calories than expend it in exercise. One large muffin might be 250 calories (kilocalories), but this requires an hour of brisk walking to burn off.

High Volume Weights

An alternative to doing high-intensity weights is to do high-volume weight sets. Rather than use dumbbells or barbells or machines that limit the number of repetitions in a set to around 12, you choose a much lighter weight and do 20 to 30 repetitions per set. By doing this you are introducing more aerobic activity into you weight training, but still getting some muscle conditioning. If you do sufficient work with this method, you will gain fat-burning benefits.

Motivational Strategies

It's all very well to plan your weight loss, but you still have to have the motivation to carry it out. You not only need a plan, you need a strategy to make that plan work. Read more about motivational approaches.

Group Reinforcement

Doing something with others who have the same problem or goal has definite advantages. Join a group, swap experiences, train together. It can make a big difference in reaching goals.

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