Strength Training For Fat Loss
When it comes to weight loss & hitting the gym, what are some of the first machines you think about? The majority of you are probably going to guess something other than the squat rack, the press machines, or any other strength training equipment for that matter. The machines that are top of mind for fat loss are the cardio machines. Sames goes for immediately after New Year’s, the machines that are occupied first are typically the ellipticals, treadmills, bikes, & so on. You get the occasional cardio junkie that will obsess over ab training (this was me). For the most part, strength machines are overlooked when it comes to people wanting to lose fat. Strength training, obviously in my opinion, is not only more enjoyable than cardio, but also has fat-loss benefits. Let’s examine how building lean muscle helps improve metabolism & insulin sensitivity (both of which aid in fat loss).
MUSCLE BURNS MORE CALORIES!
The result of strength training is hypertrophy or muscle growth. The extent of muscle growth & development depends on genetics, programming, & diet, but consistent strength training will result in the development of more muscle. When your body builds muscle, it requires more energy (calories) to maintain itself than fat. Individuals with heavier muscular builds have been shown to have a higher BMR, meaning they burn more calories at rest than someone with a higher fat percentage would at their same body weight. At rest, one pound of muscle burns 6-7 calories a day, while one pound of fat burns only 2-3 calories. That means that for every pound of fat you replace with 1 pound of muscle, you will burn an extra 4-6 calories at rest!
Additionally, the ACT of strength training burns more calories overall than cardio. When an individual does cardio, sure they are burning a good bit of calories, but what happens when they get off the elliptical? They stop burning calories. Strength training burns calories during the session but also requires our bodies to continue to need energy (calories) AFTER the session as well. EPOC (afterburn) is a scientific term for when your body burns calories to recover & repair itself after a workout.
Adding strength training to your current fitness routine pays off immediately by burning calories during & after your session, & by sticking consistently to a training program the results will pay off long-term by increasing your lean muscle mass & burning more calories during the day!
STRENGTH TRAINING HELPS US PROCESS SUGAR MORE EFFICIENTLY
Insulin is a hormone that helps our body regulate & use the sugar (glucose) in our blood for energy. For many reasons, weight gain being one, our bodies can become less sensitive to glucose & instead of using it for energy, our bodies store it as fat. This ability of the cells in our body to use blood glucose more efficiently to reduce blood sugar is known as insulin sensitivity. To clarify, when you are insulin sensitive, your body is BETTER able to use glucose for energy & less likely to store it as fat.
Where does strength training play a role in all of this?
Studies have shown that increased muscle mass increases skeletal muscle glucose uptake & improves insulin sensitivity.
OR… More lean muscle tissue = better glucose absorption in the muscle = less likely to store as fat.
The act of exercising can also help increase insulin sensitivity in the muscles as well. Exercise increases the body’s ability to shuttle nutrients into the muscles via insulin stimulation & molecular signaling, & also signals to the body that the workout has ended & the body can begin to repair.
Strength training for 2-3 days per week for a minimum of 30 minutes will have a substantial impact on your body’s insulin sensitivity, resulting in less fat storage & a leaner physique.
Strength training is not just for men or bodybuilders! It can help you lose weight, reduce your risk of injuries, improve your bone density, improve the overall look of your physique, & boost your metabolism (hence the fat loss). When looking for a way to lose weight or improve your health & fitness, strength training is (in my EXPERT opinion) the better & more enjoyable option! Find a way to start working some form of strength training into your current fitness regimen & slowly increase & make adjustments from there!
The Benefits of Semi-Private Personal Training: The Ultimate Training Experience
Personal training has a long history, dating back thousands of years, and was originally developed to prepare athletes for the Olympics and armies for battle. It wasn’t until the early 19th century that the first commercial gym emerged, even then, training was primarily aimed at athletes & the newly popular bodybuilders.
Over time, education in physical fitness and athletic development became more popular, and personal training as we know it today began. Hiring a trainer was no longer just reserved for athletes or the military but for anyone looking to make physical changes in their lives. As personal training continued to evolve, it eventually became a luxury, which led to the popularity of group fitness classes.
However, these classes were not personalized enough to cater to each individual, so there was a need for a third option: semi-private training. Semi-private personal training combines the benefits of one-on-one training and group fitness classes, without the limitations of either.
Understanding Semi-Private Personal Training
Before diving into the benefits of the semi-private training model, we need to cover what it is & how it differs from 1-1 & traditional group fitness classes. During a semi-private session, a personal trainer coaches a group of 2-6 clients at once, leading them through a workout. These sessions are similar to a cross between private (1-1) sessions & small group fitness classes. Like most small group fitness classes, each client enters at their own fitness level. The goals of each client in that class are usually similar so the coach can create the programs in advance, similar to private training. This differs from the traditional small-group fitness class because even though the goals of each client are similar, no one client is exactly the same so exercise subs may be needed.
Semi-private personal training gives us the benefits of 1-1 sessions, plus the beneficial parts of a group fitness class, without the drawbacks!
Benefits of Semi-Private Training
Although there is always a time when the 1-1 coaching model is preferred, in general, the benefits of the semi-private personal training model outweigh those of both private & small group fitness classes.
Affordability & Value
Semi-private personal training offers a number of advantages, the most significant of which is the value & cost. As this type of training involves a smaller group, the cost of semi-private sessions is much more affordable than private sessions. For instance, a private coaching session with me costs around $50 per session, whereas a semi-private session would be around $25 per session. This is beneficial for both the client & the coach. Your coach can provide their services at a rate that is much more affordable for you, while helping more people at the same time, which is also beneficial for them. In order to run these sessions efficiently, the coach must be experienced & confident, so you can rest assured that you are getting high-quality coaching at a price that you can maintain over the long term.
Because the semi-private class offers a more intimate setting (similar to a 1-1 experience), your trainer can easily give exercise subs to suit your current level or to work around injuries or ailments! With group fitness classes the workouts are done all together & subs are difficult to make, but not with semi-private. Your coach can give you exercises that are progressions of the ones on the program if you are more advanced, or regressions if you are injured or just not to that level yet! Your coach also has the ability to add exercises as they see fit during the workout. Either way with the semi-private model you get the personalized attention you need & deserve.
Motivation and Accountability
Another HUGE benefit of the semi-private personal training model is the community aspect.
To be honest this is the aspect of this model that has made me fall in love. When you sign up for semi-private training sessions your coach will determine what group suits you best based on your goals & commonalities with other members. Clients are more apt to show up & put in work when there are others around them who have the same struggles & the same goals. You receive motivation from peers during class to push through each exercise & watching others around you will inspire you to push as well. Together you & the other members of the class can share the difficulties of your day as you push through a strenuous workout. On this journey to create a better version of YOU, you will also develop friendships & bonds that last beyond the class setting!
Variety in Workouts
As stated before, clients in a semi-private personal training session have SIMILAR but not EXACTLY the same goals. This means the trainer needs to create diverse exercise routines to keep things fresh. Diversifying the training program means incorporating different training modalities for optimal results & since the groups are smaller & not large, this is 100 percent doable. The trainer will be able to use a variety of different machines & pieces of equipment without worrying about running out of space or equipment. This leaves room for tons of variety & less boredom or chance of plateau!
Fitness trends will come & go as they have since the 19th century, but I do believe this model has made its mark on the fitness industry & will remain around. Semi-private personal training allows us to receive ALL of the beneficial parts of group fitness; community, accountability, & affordability, along with the added benefits we receive from private coaching. Hiring a trainer is no longer a service reserved for athletes, anyone who is considering hiring a coach should explore the semi-private training model & experience the life-changing benefits for themselves. Friendships & GAINZ will both be made!
Semi-private training is a great way to get the best of both worlds: the personalized attention of one-on-one training & the camaraderie & motivation of group fitness. In a semi-private setting, you’ll have the opportunity to work with a qualified trainer who can create a customized workout plan that meets your individual needs. You’ll also have the chance to connect with other like-minded individuals who are working towards their own fitness goals.
If you’re looking for a fun, challenging, & supportive way to get in shape, semi-private training is a great option.
So what are you waiting for? Give semi-private training a try today!
Cheat Meals: Old School Tool or Progress Saboteur
To be lean, strong, & healthy we must fuel our bodies with a specific amount of nutritious foods consistently. However, this doesn’t mean we must permanently remove our favorite foods from our diet.
Although the concept of the cheat meal is a tad dated, there are benefits to having structured breaks in your nutrition. Education drives compliance & below, we will cover what a cheat meal is, some of the drawbacks, & alternative strategies.
It’s okay to enjoy your food, but there is a better way to think about this concept without sabotaging your mindset or progress.
Defining A Cheat Meal
The term “cheat meal” has been thrown around quite often in the nutrition space for years. Coaches use this term (even I am guilty of this), social media influencers, athletes, & even current & prospective clients ask me about cheat meals.
A cheat meal is a meal or a day where you “let loose” nutrition-wise. These cheats are essentially an opportunity to eat whatever you want in unlimited quantities, with the knowledge that you HAVE to get back on track when the cheat is over. In the past, cheat meals were thought to help “boost” or “trick” metabolism, decrease stress hormones, give a mental reset, & help the client retain muscle while in a deficit phase.
In theory, this SEEMS like an excellent concept; you get to enjoy the foods you LOVE with a few added benefits when you return to the plan.
To be 💯, it’s not that simple.
It’s no secret that being in a long-term calorie deficit (on a diet) is more mentally demanding than anything. So it should be no surprise that most of the drawbacks post cheat meal are mental as well.
The idea is that allowing a cheat meal to break up the monotony of the diet cycle will help with long-term motivation & cravings. The problem with this theory is that we are human, the NEED for the cheat meal in the first place is the exact reason why this concept doesn’t work the majority of the time.
- Promotes “good” vs. “bad” food mentality.
When deciding what foods we typically want to have for our cheat day, we usually choose foods that we aren’t able to eat on a “good” day. So we choose foods for our cheat & label them “bad”, & by association, when we eat these foods in the future we are “bad”. Seeing yourself as “bad” because of a food choice takes away from all of the healthy choices you’ve made & makes adherence harder.
- Creates an “All-or-Nothing” mindset.
You messed up so you give yourself permission to continue to mess up. Once you have your “bad” meal for the day it’s easy to say “screw it” & spiral down from there. Leaving you feeling miserable & guilty, in a shameful cycle.
- Hard to get back on track.
Eating sugary & processed foods tends to leave us wanting more. The more off-track you typically get with your cheat meal, the harder it usually is to get back on track.
- The drastic increase in calorie intake slows progression.
An old-school cheat meal can set you back literally thousands of calories. Going too far overboard can cut into your deficit each week & set you back on your progress toward your goals, slowing your fat loss & leaving you frustrated.
- Leads to binge eating.
This is somewhat an extension of the All-or-Nothing mindset. When “allowed” to eat any & everything in a given time period it is very easy to eat past satiety. Knowing that this “good” food is going to come to an end makes it really hard to stop when satisfied. This creates a feeling of anxiety & the need to get in as much as possible before it is over. This NEED to overindulge to fit in ALL we want in a short time creates a disordered eating cycle, keeps us from paying attention to our hunger cues
Any & all of these can be detrimental to your mentality around health & nutrition, & unfortunately, most of the time more than 1 of these comes into play at once.
Thankfully, cheat meals aren’t the only option & there are alternative strategies to adding flexibility to your nutrition.
Cheat meals are one of the most well-known dieting strategies, but can be a little old school. Nowadays, there are more beneficial approaches that will allow for a flexible, sustainable, & enjoyable dieting experience.
Diet breaks are a part of the nutritional periodization process. Periodizing the nutrition process allows us to schedule our diet around holidays, birthdays, vacations, etc., it ensures we are continuously making progress & not hitting a plateau. Taking a diet break can mean you back away from tracking altogether or increasing calories & continuing to track.
Diet breaks are short periods of 1-2 weeks where calories are increased & restrictions are somewhat loosened. These are different than a reverse diet because we are jumping straight back to maintenance calories with the intention of cutting back after a set time to continue progressing towards our goals. Periodizing your nutrition & scheduling planned diet breaks is the most sustainable & effective way to approach any physique or long-term physical goal.
The frequency of a diet break depends on the individual & their goals. Diet breaks typically follow 12 or so weeks of consistent dieting (meaning being in a deficit) & I like to schedule my diet breaks to make life easier. I reserve diet breaks for holidays & birthdays so that life is a bit more enjoyable.
A refeed is a brief period where calories are taken slightly above maintenance. Protein intake typically stays the same, while the increase in calories comes from carbohydrates. Refeeds can be considered a more “controlled” version of a cheat day. Calories for refeeds are planned in advance & tailored to the individual’s personal & training schedule. Unlike cheat days, it is important to be aware of the calories you are consuming & to focus on food quality. Refeeds can vary from person to person, but the main goal is to consume a controlled surplus of calories.
Moderation & Macros
This is typically the “If it fits your macros approach”. Moderation helps break the All-or-nothing cycle, you incorporate foods you enjoy while maintaining awareness of the quality of the rest of your diet. It allows us to satisfy cravings without overindulging or sabotaging progress. This is an approach I like to take with clients who have dealt with disordered eating in the past, or for clients who are new to nutrition coaching. For individuals who take this approach, I recommend hitting a minimum protein & fiber goal as well as a maximum calorie goal for the day.
As with any physique goal, remaining consistent with your nutrition & calorie intake is still the most effective diet approach. Implementing a strategy that helps you incorporate foods you love, whether that be on a daily basis (fit it in your macros), a planned diet break or a controlled refeed, will help to offset the monotony of the diet & make this process easier to adhere to.
Remember, this should be a sustainable lifestyle. If you are always looking forward to your next cheat meal, that is not an enjoyable or sustainable way to live (trust me, I’ve been there).
Eating “off plan” is a part of life, but there is a much better way to think about this concept without sabotaging your mindset or progress. Instead of thinking of it as a cheat, think of it as a way to enjoy your food & still reach your fitness goals.
Thanks for reading!
It can be more difficult to make decisions about your own health & fitness because you are emotionally invested in the outcome. This is one of the reasons 1-1 nutrition coaching is so effective. A coach can provide you with unbiased advice & support, help you stay on track with your goals by providing accountability, & help you succeed in the long run by providing you with tools & education.
For coaching inquiries head to:
Athlete For Life Series Workout Breakdown: The Warm-up
Doesn’t it seem like the things we need most in life are oftentimes the hardest to make time for?
As we age, remaining active is increasingly important if you want to maintain an excellent quality of life. If we are being honest, between our kids, spouse, extended family, jobs, & obligations elsewhere, it is often hard to find to exercise or get active. Even when we do finally find time, it is EXTREMELY tempting to skip the warm-up & get straight to lifting. Skipping warm-ups not only leads to injury in the short term but also hinders us in the future as well.
Warming up before your workout increases flexibility, range of motion, & blood flow (which helps shuttle nutrients & oxygen), decreases muscle tension & pain, prepares & loosens muscles to be worked, & ultimately boosts your performance & maximizes your workout.
Although it can be tempting to skip, be mindful of your aging body. Implement a proper dynamic stretch & mobility routine, your warm-up can help you maximize both your workout & your long-term results.
Stretching is old news. We’ve been told stretching improves our range of motion & mobility & helps reduce the risk of injury prior to performing or working out. However, the methods we use for stretching before working out are just as important as the warm-up itself.
There are two types of stretching;
- Static stretching – holding a set position
- Dynamic stretching – moving the muscles through their full range of motion
Static stretching is probably the most well-known style of stretching. This is what we did growing up in PE. Bend down, touch your toes, hold, & then move on to the next static stretch. Static stretching is great for tension in your muscles, increasing flexibility & mobility & elongating the muscles. However, it’s not necessarily the best method for our warm-up.
Dynamic stretching involves MOVEMENT through a full range of motion. Since this type of stretching requires movement, you are literally warming up by generating heat & getting your blood pumping. With dynamic stretching, I not only like to target the muscles that will be worked in the upcoming workout, but I also like to target opposing muscle groups. Targeting the primary muscles has its obvious benefits, but by firing up opposing muscle groups, you allow yourself to engage your primary muscles more!
Some of my favorite dynamic stretches include:
- Pike to Squat
- Downward Dog to Cobra
- Lateral Lunges
Choose a few different stretches that you really like for each body part & start working them into the beginning of your workout routine. Incorporate 3-5 dynamic stretches & perform each movement for 20-30 seconds, typically in a certain fashion for optimal workout performance.
An effective warm-up wouldn’t be complete without some mobility work thrown in.
Mobility exercises are geared towards training your range of motion around joints. This work involves actively moving, contracting & relaxing muscles through the joint’s range of motion. Mobility exercises can include single or multi-joint movement patterns & are usually done with body weight or bands. Good mobility doesn’t just mean flexibility. It means that your range of motion is smooth, & you are more resilient against injury, & you’ll be able to recruit the most muscle for each exercise.
Some of my favorite mobility exercises I use are:
- Mini Band Overhead Reach
- ½ Kneeling Banded Facepull
- Active Frog
Start by adding 2-4 mobility exercises to your warm-up routine & try to gradually increase your range of motion. Perform 2-3 sets of each of your mobility exercises for a given amount of reps or time. Make sure to change these exercises out every 3-4 weeks so your body can continue to adapt & improve.
As tempting as it is to skip or rush through your warm-up, remember there are short & long-term benefits you are missing out on. Immediate benefits are mainly performanced based, along with increased blood flow (which means more oxygen & nutrients) & long-term benefits range from better stability & balance to decreased pain & increased range of motion & overall a better quality of life.
Structuring warm-ups in a circuit format usually keeps them both movement & time-efficient. Performing standing work first, then go to the floor for your floor exercises. Try flowing from one movement to the next with little to no rest. Your warm-up should not be strenuous or time-consuming & should leave you mentally & physicaly prepped to lift. Ideally, you should be able to complete a sufficient warm-up in less than 10 minutes.
Sample Full Body Warm-up:
Perform each exercise for 15-20 seconds. Rest long enough only to move to the next exercise.
Repeat for 2 rounds.
- World’s greatest stretch (both sides)
- Thread the needle (both sides)
- Frog stretch
- Lean back shoulder & quad stretch
Mobility & dynamic stretching are both a MUST if you wanna get strong, perform well in workouts, & continue to feel great as you age.
Tired of putting in the work & not getting the results you want?
Maybe you need accountability. Maybe the food you are eating isn’t working with your training in the gym. Maybe your recovery needs work.
Contact me for coaching. After talking we will decide the first steps to take in making sure your nutrition & training programs are working together, to get you the results you deserve. We will make sure the training program you are on fits your schedule & you’ll be given actual tasks & habits to take care of weekly that will create awareness, educate you, & guide your new lifestyle.