In the almost 20 years that I’ve been helping clients set and reach goals, I’ve come to the conclusion that to get steady results, it’s essential to increase the amount of total “work” that we accomplish in any given period of time. Although there are endless progressive training methods, this might be the single simplest most effective way to make constant progress.
If your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, increase strength and improve performance, a great way to accomplish this and avoid a plateau is to do more work in almost every workout in the same amount of time — whether it’s one more rep in a set of push-ups, one more pound on your squat or shorter rest between intervals. The idea is to work harder, not longer, every time you train.
Let’s see how this might work. Say, for example, you want you want to lose 20 pounds in 12 weeks. About one to two pounds a week is a healthy, reasonable weight loss. This of course, depends on what your diet and exercise program looks like, and how much weight you need to lose or have lost already. Allow a realistic time frame to reach your goal.
Diet is the primary factor when it comes to losing weight. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: no exercise program will compensate for a bad diet. Sure, there are some programs that’ll have you losing weight much more rapidly than others. But in fact, if you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet (like our Core Diets Program) and exercising properly, you will likely lose weight (fat) more gradually than if you were on a crash diet and an aerobic exercise program. But the changes you make with our recommendations will be long-lasting and will change your body and metabolism for the better.
In order to be successful, you need to know your starting point. So step on a scale, take your measurements, and (my favorite) do a proper body composition test. Because no one likes to get pinched and measured for a body composition assessment, at Core we use the “BodyMetrix” system. This system uses ultrasound to accurately measure fat thickness and calculate body fat percentage and weight distribution. This allows us to track fat loss and muscle gain without embarrassing pinching and gives us a very clear picture of how the weight is distributed.
I know most people find this process disturbing but it’s critical to ensure accountability, compliance and to track the effectiveness of the program. Did you know that muscle actually takes up about 20% less volume than fat? That means that if you lose five pounds of fat and add five pounds of muscle, you’ll be physically smaller without any noticeable change in body weight. This is what you should be striving for from your fitness program.
To make these kinds of changes, let’s design a manageable program that will have you in and out of the gym in about an hour, just five days a week.
The program could look something like this: Monday, Wednesday and Friday do 2 full-body strength circuits of 3 sets of 8 reps (of each exercise) with 1-minute recovery. Here’s a very basic progression for this strength workout: : Since the program has you starting at 3 sets of 8 (challenging) reps for each exercise, you could bump up the weight a little or increase the reps by 2 each week. However, once you hit about 12 reps, I suggest you increase the weight and drop the reps back to 8 again. That’s it!
Tuesday and Thursday will be designated to interval fat-loss training: Here you could do (after a thorough warm-up) ten intervals of running (or a hard effort on the bike) for one minute of work followed by one minute of recovery.
A simple way of keeping this workout challenging and effective would be to gradually increase the speed or incline of the treadmill or the resistance on the bike for each of the 10 intervals. These will be small but sustainable increases over-time: Just as long as you’re able to complete all of the designated intervals without increasing the rest period.
Such a program will keep things fresh and challenging without changing up too many variables all the time. Consistent tracking of your progress will help keep you accountable for your actions and will let you know when something needs to be adjusted.
If you’re eating right for your body and lifestyle, and you’re making steady progress in the gym, I promise, the fat will come off. And if it’s not, wouldn’t you like to learn how to change that? I’d love to help.
Strength For Life,