Perhaps the most common fitness question of all time is how to find the right exercise routine to help lose fat.
It can be quite a minefield out there, so let’s just bust one common myth first, and that is the idea that it’s all down to calories.
Cardio is the best exercise routine for fat loss, right?
Everyone is trying to find that perfect exercise which will burn the most calories possible. In my experience, most people, if not all people, think that’s going to be some form of cardio exercise, so that could be running, swimming, or cycling to name but a few.
Whilst it’s true cardio exercises burn more calories than strength based exercises as a rule, it’s often actually an unsustainable way of training if you’re aiming for fat loss.
The reason for this is as you increase your time spent doing at cardio exercise your resting metabolism will also decrease. Your resting metabolism, also known as the basal metabolism rate (BMR), is the number of calories you burn when your body is at rest.
So when you first start doing cardio, you can lose fat very quickly. As your body gets used to the new exercises, this fat loss rate drops and you can plateau.
So that means you’ll need to do more and more cardio exercise in order to sustain the same rate of fat loss. Understandably, for a lot of people they just simply don’t have the time to do that. Therefore, cardio exercise is simply not the most effective means of continued and sustained fat loss on its own.
Strength training, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. Frequent strength training means that your resting metabolism will increase as you put on muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories at rest, so building and strengthening your muscle will turn your body into a calorie burning machine.
That means that you don’t need to spend as much time in the gym, and you can actually get away with eating slightly more food.
So what should you do?
If you’re a beginner, the best exercise routine for fat loss would be something beginning with strength training. You can then speed up the fat loss process, or at least supplement it, by adding some variation and throw cardio into the mix.
However, if you’re preparing for a competition or need to hit a particular target weight in a certain amount of time, then I’d recommend to add more cardio exercise sessions into your fitness regime so you can burn those extra calories.