Shifting stubborn body fat is challenging; whilst losing fat and toning up is a fitness goal for lots of people, many don’t know how to alter their workout routine and overall lifestyle to maximise fat loss healthily. To help those looking to shed fat and slim down, Steven Virtue, Fitness Development Manager at Total Fitness, shares his expert insights for burning fat effectively.
Before establishing what you can do to help burn stubborn fat, it is important to debunk several common myths surrounding fat loss.
Steven said: “First and foremost, you cannot spot reduce fat.
“Although some parts of your body may take longer than others to slim down, depending on factors such as body shape and composition, if you workout to lose fat then you will lose fat across your entire body.
“You can focus your weight training on building certain muscles so that they appear particularly defined once fat is lost, however, it is not possible to lose fat in one body part by exercising that specific area alone.”
He added: “Whilst exercise is undeniably important and offers many fantastic benefits to our overall health, research shows us that losing fat cannot be achieved by exercise alone.
“You cannot ‘out-train’ a bad diet and increasing your level of exercise whilst still eating junk food will not facilitate fat loss.
“Therefore, it is essential to create a diet plan and exercise routine that compliment one another.”
Steven shared his top five tips for anyone looking to reduce their body fat.
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1. Pick up the weights
He explained: “Whilst you may be tempted to focus solely on cardio-based workouts when trying to shift stubborn fat, combining aerobic exercises with strength training is particularly effective for losing body fat.
“Adding resistance to your workout with weight training can help the body preserve fat-free mass, which has been shown to increase the number of calories your body burns whilst resting.
“Consistent weight training, that is safe yet challenging for your body, will also help you to build lean muscle – this, combined with the fat loss, helps to create a more toned and sculpted physique.”
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2. Incorporate HIIT into your workout routine
“High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT for short, is a fantastic form of exercise to incorporate into your fitness routine,” Steven said.
“Not only is HIIT a great way to boost your mood, but research shows that the increased metabolic rate, caused by strenuous and high intensity exercise, can last up to 38 hours, meaning your body will burn significantly more calories in a resting state.
“HIIT, particularly the longer circuits or more complex combinations, can be intimidating to beginners.
“However, there are simple and short HIIT exercises that you can start with: squats, sit ups, burpees and mountain climbers are all fantastic exercises to try for 30 second intervals with a 20 second rest.”
4. Increase activity outside the gym
Steven added: “Whilst a sweaty gym session is great for burning calories, having a more active lifestyle outside of the gym will also promote fat loss whilst improving your overall health.
“Increase your daily activity levels with simple lifestyle changes: avoid driving short distances and try walking instead, use stairs instead of lifts, or take up hobbies that involve movement, such as climbing or swimming.
“If you are struggling to stay motivated to be more active in day-to-day life, then combine this with socialising and seeing loved ones.
“For example, you could suggest swapping your next afternoon in the pub for a trip to a beautiful nature spot where you can enjoy a long walk and picnic.”
5. Allow time for rest
“When trying to meet fitness goals, it can be tempting to try to push your body to its limits with a rigorous and relentless training schedule,” Steven said. “However, this is not the most effective way to lose body fat or maintain a healthy exercise routine.
“Too much vigorous exercise without enough recovery days can lead to overtraining which causes your body to store more fat, due to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol.
“Listen to how your body feels and what it needs – if you feel particularly lethargic or achy then vigorous exercise is probably not the best idea.
“Instead, consider an activity that will allow you to rest whilst also benefiting your mood, such as reading or meditation.
“Sleep is also crucial to the fat burning process – aim for at least seven hours of quality sleep per night and ensure that you have an optimum environment for falling into a deep state of sleep.”