This is Part 2 of ‘How to Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet’ post. Part 1 is here.
As mentioned in the previous post, I learned the tips and tricks described in these posts from personal trainers and nutritionists I worked with in the past. Hence, I don’t make this stuff up, it is advice I received from professionals. You might not agree with what I write here, in that case I refer you to the specialists. I’m sharing this as I found that this method works for me. More importantly, when I first decided to lose some weight I was unaware of most of those things and spent a lot of time at the gym without any results. I remember how frustrating that was and thought that by writing this post I might possibly help someone else avoid this frustration.
In Part 1 I mentioned the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercises and the benefits of the latter. Knowing this we can now proceed with practical advice on anaerobic training.
Using a gym and exercising in general requires some knowledge about how your body functions. Just because you spend time at the gym and stay active doesn’t mean you will lose weight (although of course it’s generally true). It definitely doesn’t mean that you are spending this time in the most effective way. For example, 40 min of pure cardio won’t help you lose weight! I don’t remember the source but I remember reading that while doing cardio exercises you start to burn body fat ONLY after 40 min of continuous training. This means that for the first 39 min of your training you are not burning body fat. Obviously, cardio or aerobic exercises have other health benefits but I’m focusing on losing weight here.
8 Rules of Effective Anaerobic Workout
1. Resistance machines are your best friends. You should spend the majority of your time in the gym on them.
2. Your workout should be based on interval training. On each resistance machine you should do 3 sets of exercises, 15 repetitions each (general rule – up to 8 repetitions is for building up muscles, this is what men use when they want to get bigger, and 15 repetitions is for turning fat into muscles to make you slimmer).
3. The rest between sets should be no more than 30-45 seconds to make sure that your exercises are effective.
4. The weight should be adjusted to your strength. A good rule of thumb is that the last 2-3 repetitions in the second and third sets should be almost impossible. You should really struggle to finish the last two sets. This means that you are working at an optimal weight.
5. While cardio is in general useless for this type of programme it’s helpful to maintain an elevated heart rate while using resistance machines. This will make your workout more effective. For example, it’s useful to maintain a higher heart rate between resistance machines sets. It’s also good to use interval training as a warm up on a treadmill as opposed to normal cardio: e.g. instead of running for 20 min at a constant pace use intervals (see below for an example). Interval running is actually an anaerobic exercise.
6. If when you’re leaving the gym you’re sweaty and your muscles are shacking it means it is working. If you’re not breaking a sweat while using resistance machines this means that your heart rate is too low and your workout won’t be as effective.
7. If you’re getting muscle aches the main thing to remember is that it will only get worse when you stop for a couple of days and start again. The best thing to do is to gently work through it. It shouldn’t occur after the first week anyway.
8. It’s good to follow your workout programme 3-4 times a week (or as often as you can) and to do something different once a week (at the gym or outside). The body gets used to a set of exercises quite quickly and as a result a workout programme becomes less effective in time. It’s good to switch up your programme every 3-4 weeks although it’s OK to use it for a longer period of time if you feel it’s still challenging.
My Current Workout Plan
This takes me 30-45 min and I do it 4-5 days a week:
1 Interval training. 20 min on a treadmill with about a 10% incline:
- 2 min or 5 min warm up: fast walking 6-7 km per h
- 2 min run: running speed 7-9km (whatever works for you). I was told that my heart rate should go up to 170 but this will differ for each person. Note that it will be more difficult to run with the incline so the speed will be lower than your average speed. This is intentional as we’re trying to make the muscles work and not focusing on running fast.
- 1 min fast walk: speed 6-7 km as in the warm up. I was told to keep my heart rate above 135. This will again depend on your resting heart rate, age etc.
- Repeat 5 or 6 times depending on the length of the warm up.
2 Interval training on resistance machines.
- Step: 20 repetitions. The point of this exercise is to maintain a higher heart rate while using leg muscles in a low intensity type of movement (interval training is all about switching between low intensity and high intensity exercises).
- Leg extensions: 15 times
- Step: 20 repetitions
- Leg press: 15 times
- Step: 20 repetitions
- Leg curl: 15 times
- Rest for 30-45 sec and repeat the whole set 3 times
3 Core training on a mat
- 2 min plank. Your elbows and arms should be at 90 degrees. You can break this time into as many intervals as you need, eg. 15 sec of plank and 15 sec of rest. Just make sure in total you do 2 min of plank (this one will burn but you’ll feel great when you notice that the time you can go without a break increases each week).
- Side plank, 1 min for each side, again you can break it up
This programme doesn’t take long but is effective and targets the areas where fat usually accumulates: thighs and belly. My gym is 2 min away from me (it’s a 24h one) which really helps me to train regularly. As much as I love the gym I find it difficult to go to one if I need to take public transport to get there. So I recommend finding a gym that is close to you even if it’s not the best equipped one. 24h gyms work great for me as I prefer to exercise at night (sometimes even round 2am). There are also no excuses when the gym is opened all the time.
The last point I’d like to make is that with this programme I don’t feel like I’m spending ages at the gym each week. It’s a part of my daily routine and I treat this time as a short break between my daily activities. It’s a great time to listen to some music and unwind.
Friday: How to Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet: Part 3