As personal trainers, we are constantly fielding questions about training and nutrition. Between clients asking questions during sessions, relatives wondering ‘is it okay to eat this’ and random Facebook inquiries from that guy you met at a friend of a friend’s party, it’s a full-time job in itself.
Everyone wants to know what they should be doing, eating, lifting. So we thought we’d get our trainers to answer some of the most common questions and post the answers here. Hopefully this series will give you a few new ideas and insights. You may also come to the horrifying realisation that trainers are human too.
First up is Zack Cahill, who specialises in fat loss for busy people.
How should I train if I want to lose weight?
ZC– It’s obviously a big, complex subject that depends on lots of factors from age to training history to injury status and so on. The ideal scenario is a combination of weight training, interval training and regular old boring cardio.
The first thing to consider is how frequently you can train. If you can legitimately only get to the gym two or three times a week, then stick to full body weight training workouts, and maybe do ten minutes of interval training at the end of those sessions.
If you can train more often – and training frequency is important for fat loss – then you might add in a longer cardio session. But the priority is weight training, using big exercises that target lots of muscles. I like to pair upper body and lower body movements up to make things more metabolically challenging.
For example; Barbell Squat for ten reps, then move straight on to dumbbell shoulder press for ten reps, then rest and repeat for four sets.
Three pairings like that and you’ve got yourself a workout. Do that three times a week and you’re on your way to a decent program.
How should I eat to lose weight?
ZC– Obviously another vast subject but also one that is constantly over-complicated by the media. And again, it depends on your goal. If it’s just to go from overweight to a healthy weight, you can do it by simply tightening up your eating habits and cutting out obvious junk. But if you want to look like a ripped cover model, you have to pretty much give yourself a temporary eating disorder. I’m not even criticising that approach, because if it’s done for a controlled period and you know what you’re doing it can be rewarding, but the point is they are two very different approaches and you should be honest with yourself about what you’re willing to do.
So a moderate approach for an overweight person would involve the following.
– Base meals around protein. It’s not a meal unless it contains meat, fish, chicken or whatever gross veggie substitute you subject yourself to.
– Include lots of green veg.
– Reduce reliance on energy-dense carbohydrates. You don’t don’t have to be a carb nazi and go full Atkins. But it’s very easy to over-consume on things like rice, bread, cereal and pasta. Conversely, it’s virtually impossible to over consume salmon.
– Reduce alcohol. Once a week, don’t get paralytic, avoid beer.
– More water. Unlike a lot of trainers I don’t believe mega-hydration is some kind of magical cure-all, but lots of people don’t drink much water at all.
– Be consistent. A week is not long enough to decide that the approach isn’t working. Fat loss is hard, unfortunately.
So again, simple principles go a long way.
How do I lose weight from here (points to stomach, or bum, or arms or wherever)?
ZC– See above. The boring answer is fat is lost from all over the body so just train for general fat loss. There’s no problem training specific problem areas a bit more of course, training your bum more will lift it and make it look better, but a balanced weight training program should be doing that anyway.
Will weight training make me big and bulky?
ZC – A thousand times no. Women actually ask this question a lot less than they used to because people are generally more switched on, but some people – even guys – still worry about it.
Muscle building is incredibly hard. No one, in the history of the universe, has gained too much muscle by accident. You are not so genetically gifted that an extra set of lunges will give you thighs like Arnie. Worrying about this is like worrying about reading in case you get too intelligent.
Weight training will change your body shape, burn fat, improve your health and make you more attractive.