In my first post about nutrition, I mentioned the importance of diet when trying to meet fat loss goals. I find it important to reiterate that without a disciplined diet plan, exercise won’t do much to help achieve fat loss goals. With that, a good exercise plan will compliment a good diet plan very well.
“What type of exercise should I do? Lots of cardio?”
Noooooooooo…. For one, cardio is boring. It does have it’s place for example when a bodybuilder wants to lose that last bit of fat, and for those who are prone to high cholesterol (I do a little bit of cardio every week cause my family has a history of high cholesterol). I think it is established that muscle burns more calories than fat, so the “secret” is to put on muscle which will then speed up one’s ability to lose fat. How do you put on muscle? Lift weights.
“But I’m a girl! I don’t want to get huge!”
Umm, if you take a look at my photo, do I look huge? I’m pretty lean at 144lbs for someone who is 5″9′. Honestly, the only way you’ll end up bulky while lifting weights is if you eat at a calorie surplus i.e. if you eat more calories than your body burns. So if you’re gaining weight while getting stronger but your goal is to stay lean, then it’s time to make diet adjustments and cut back calories. Otherwise, you may end up huge and strong like a fat power lifter (google it =P).
“But you’re a dude, I swear I’ll get huge if I lift weights. I’ll just stick to my cardio”
Okay, how about this? This is my wife. She lifts weights with me once a week.
She would lift more if her schedule allowed it (ah, the joys of being a law student). Does she look huge? No way. Actually most people don’t even think she lifts weights and just sticks to cardio machines. How does she do it? She has some of the most ridiculous self control I’ve seen when it comes to watching what she eats (and it’s not cause I make her do it hahah… she chooses to eat healthy).
“Okay, so I should lift weights. So like 6 days a week then, 2 hours each session?”
Naw, that’s way too much effort. A lot of people are surprised to hear I only lift 3 days a week, about an hour each session for a total of 3 hours of exercise a week. Again, I go back to how important the diet portion is. It’s easier to not eat the 200 calorie doughnut then to take the time to exercise off 200 calories. Our goal is to build muscle to enhance the body’s ability to burn fat. An hour each session 3 times a week is good enough for a normal person (I’m talking non-bodybuilders/fitness models. I’m assuming most reading this post don’t fit into either category since this is more a beginner article =P). Plus, it will give busy people time to enjoy their lives instead of living at the gym.
“I thought the name of this post is ‘3 Exercises Everyone Should Learn to Lose Body Fat’… quit stalling bro”
Okay okay… Yeah I took way too long but I had to set up the reasons cause I always hear a lot of hesitance from people who I try to give advice too (it’s funny cause they ask me for advice, and then argue with every piece of advice I give them. Then why ask me?). So the top 3 exercises everyone should learn to lose body fat are:
- Barbell Squat
- Barbell Bench Press
- Barbell Deadlift
These 3 exercises are very hard, but they are well worth learning. Since my wife can only go with me to the gym once a week, these are the only 3 exercises that she does since they are the most effective at building/maintaining muscle. It might be worth it to get a proper trainer to teach you (I say “proper trainer” cause there are a lot of bad ones out there) or you can do what I did and read a lot of literature and study video in order to get the correct form. A good book that a lot of people use to get started is Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe.The way I did it was by watching a lot of youtube videos on squat form, and then recording myself lifting and correcting my errors in form. I have some old videos out there where I cringe at how bad my deadlift form used to be. I didn’t know I was doing it wrong until I recorded myself. Here’s how to not deadlift by yours truly (I cringe when I see how bad my back is curved). My squat form earlier in that video kinda sucked too (my knees would sometimes track inwards during heavy weight, but that’s topic for another time).
Quick tips for learning to lift free weights so you guys don’t hurt yourselves:
1) There is no shame in starting out light
It’s better to start out light and increase weight every week than to max out your first session. I myself started lifting with an empty barbell (45lbs). Yes, I looked super weak but who cares? I rather people think I look weak than hurt myself trying to look tough. When starting, my wife could not squat the empty barbell with good form, so I had her start squatting her body weight only till her form improved and we moved on from there. Same with deadlifts. A year ago, she couldn’t deadlift an empty barbell at 45lbs, but now she can deadlift 105lbs x 5 (keep in mind she only weighs about 97 lbs).
2) Form, form, form
Always lift with good form. If you have a knowledgeable friend or trainer, have them check our form an help you out so do you don’t develop bad lifting habits. Or you can always record video of yourself and send it to me and I can check it out for you. If you’re not lifting with good form, then see #1. You’re probably trying to lift too much weight.
With that, I think this is a good point for you to get started and. In future posts, I will go over how to routine with these “big 3” exercises and my tips on form, or you can start your research right now with “Google Sensei.”