Does any of these sound familiar to you?
You have to avoid eating rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, anything that has carbs to lose weight.
You have to avoid eating fats (that’s why there are lots of advertisements for non fat milk, non fat butter and non fat grills).
You have to try XYZ slimming tea or take ABC supplements, both are guaranteed to help you burn fat and lose weight.
Running is the best way to lose weight.
You have to lift heavier to put on more muscle and lose fat (even though your form sucks and you risk dumping weights on your face for the sake of lifting heavier).
You should do 30-45 minutes of cardio first before you start to workout.
Do 3 sets of 12 repetitions for each workout alright?
I was doing most of these listed (maybe you are too) and while some of the things have their merit, it’s still not THE BEST advice to lose weight. And I didn’t even get THE BEST advice from a personal trainer in a gym (shocking). And I doubt any of my gym buddies knew about this either.
What do I mean when I say BEST advice? It means, losing fat and putting on muscle in the most efficient way possible. Do I have your attention now?
What is it?
It’s this: You have to shorten your workouts.
Hold on, let me explain before you leave and stop reading all the way down. When I say shorten your workouts, I don’t mean to say that you put in mediocre work in the gym for 20 minutes, walkout and be on your way.
I’m talking about short, intense, burst training type of workouts.
Workouts that take so much toll you’d be having a hard time catching your breath. Workouts that are so intense, you’d be sweating so much you can squeeze sweat out of your shirt (I shouldn’t have gone there but I’m trying to make a point).
I usually go into these workouts thinking it’s going to be the longest 20 minutes of my life every damn time.
Let me explain.
In the world of fat loss, intensity is king.
As Jeff Cavaliere (creator of Athlean X training system) would say, you can workout long or you can workout hard but you cannot do both.
In a nutshell, when we workout, we basically use our stored glycogen (stored sugar) to fuel our activities. Once they are used up, our body turns to fat as an energy source. The key to using fat as energy lies in the intensity of the workout.
I will try to explain to you as best as I can without sounding like your high school science teacher.
Every time we exercise, our body uses oxygen for our body to function and to complete the exercise. The more intense the workout, the more oxygen your body needs.
When you do short but high intensity workouts, you deplete your glycogen (stored energy) during the workout.
But since the workout was so intense, your body will need additional time to make up for the oxygen deficit. This is where your body will turn to fat as an energy source to build up your oxygen reserves once again.
This is phenomenon is referred to as EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption) or the after burn effect where your body continues to burn calories (coming from fat) way after the workout to bring the body to its normal oxygen state.
Think about burning calories while sitting in front of the TV or while sleeping. Your body is turned into a fat burning furnace when you turn up the intensity and shorten your workout.
Why should I do short and high intensity workouts?
Aside from melting fat while watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead (or Game of Thrones), a couple of things come to mind when I say that shorter, more intense workouts are better.
- Shorter workouts are easier to fit into your schedule
Admit it. We’ve all said this one time or another because we just don’t have time to workout. Whether it’s because of a new job, just got kids, your studies or whatever we just can’t get enough time to workout.
Well that is if you’re thinking of training for 2-3 hours for 5-6 days a week. Not only are you going to get burned out if you keep doing it but you’re not going to do it at all because well, you don’t have time.
In reality, we need to prioritize and eliminate certain distractions so we can focus on what we have to do. It could be less TV time or time spent social media or your phone, video games always steal your precious time. These are just a few things that come to mind but I’m sure there’s more.
Ask yourself this question: How long do I spend on social media? Or how long does it take to watch an episode of your favorite series, or playing video games? This time could instead be used to do short workouts that have a huge benefit down the road.
I’m not trying to sound like your parent either because I think you know these things already but you have to decide if your health is more important. YOU make the decision and ultimately determine the results you’re going to get.
Shortening your workouts gives you a huge advantage specially if you work longs hours, have young kids or if you are juggling work and school at the same time.
It’s easier to mentally prepare yourself to workout if you know that you’re only going to need 20 to 30 minutes instead of 2 hours in the gym or 2 hours of slow cardio (with slow results as well).
Face it guys, if you cannot set aside 20 minutes a day for 6 days a week to lose fat, you’re not going to lose fat! No diet, no magic drink or pill is suddenly going to melt 10 lbs of fat without doing a single exercise.
2. You’ll feel lighter, you’ll get more bounce in your step. Daily tasks become easier.
Imagine working out for 2 hours in the morning then going to work afterwards. If you are working in a physically demanding job like those working in hospitals, restaurants or hotels, think of how difficult it would be to make it thru an 8 hour shift (while standing most of the time).
Now change the scenario and change your workouts to 20 minutes instead of 2 hours. This time you don’t feel as burned out, you still have energy left to go to work and (you might be surprised) you even have more energy going to work after a short workout.
Some of the fundamental movements for short and high intensity workouts include burpees, pull ups, squats, lunges, deadlifts and push ups.
These exercises require multiple muscles working all at once thereby increasing your heart rate more than doing bicep curls and tricep kickbacks ever will. That’s also the reason you can’t do these workouts for too long.
Doing these workouts also makes daily tasks like lifting things of the floor, pushing and pulling things and sitting down on the toilet seat all that much easier.
And since you don’t have to carry all of that excess weight around with you all the time, you’re going to feel much lighter.
3. Lessens the risk of nagging injuries.
When I was younger, running worked well for me. One to 2 hours of running helped me lose weight fast! There was only one problem. The stronger my body got from running, the more efficient it became at using energy thereby reducing my fat burning capacity.
Things only get harder as we grow older and our metabolism slows down even more. Instead of running 1-2 hours, you have to run 2-3 hours instead just to see results.
I remember straining my right calf muscle once. I couldn’t walk without a limp for a week. I couldn’t workout. I had to rest it and do some therapy (massages, hot and cold compress) for about 2 weeks before I could resume running.
As soon as I felt fit enough to start run, a funny thing happened. I started running and 10 minutes into it, i strained my LEFT calf muscle! I don’t know why, but I thought it was funny at that time.
Some long distance runners that I know suffer from plantar fasciitis, ITB, achilles tendonitis and more.
If you’re a runner and you’ve been doing it for a while then chances are you might be suffering from one of these injuries.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to do cardio and pounding the pavements for hours is a sure way to get lingering joint and muscle pains.
Doing 20 minutes of interval cardio training instead saves you from excessive stress on your knees, ankles and legs. Not only that, but it is proven to help build lean muscles and melts fat along the way.
4. Saves you a lot of money
Think about this scenario:
Newbie walks into a gym, gets assigned a “personal trainer” who gives them a 1 hr free trial to show newbie how to workout for weight loss or muscle gain, gets a contract handed to them at the end of the session detailing how many sessions they will do per week and how much they get charged.
Some might be able afford to pay between $50-$100 per hour for a personal trainer to help them lose weight. If they stick to 80 percent of their workout routine and eat healthy 80% of the time then there’s a good chance they will see results.
I’m not trying to attack personal trainers because there are a lot of them out there that are capable and sincere in helping people lose weight. But there are several others like me who couldn’t afford to pay a trainer per hour (to show me how to workout inefficiently).
This is where getting creative and taking a leap of faith benefited me.
I purchased a program called Maxworkouts back in 2011 for $39. Six years later, I am still using it! Granted that I haven’t been using it for 6 years straight but think of the value of the $39 I spent compared to paying a personal trainer.
Even if you say you just used Maxworkouts for 90 days (the whole duration of the program) it would only be like paying $2.31 a day which is still tremendous value for the money spent.
Does it really work?
It’s hard to trust in words sometimes and I admit that I have a hard time believing the things that I hear or read myself. What I do not doubt though would be seeing results as a result of action.
I have plenty of before and after pictures and this is the first of many:
The bottom line:
Sometimes I wonder why I bothered to write this very long blog post. It took time to write a 2000 word post (maybe about 3 weeks) given how busy I am with work, family and with the household.
But here’s the thing.
My life was changed.
Just a look at my before and after pictures says a lot has changed physically but what it doesn’t show is how much it has changed me on the inside.
Imagine the confidence of being able to put on any shirt and know that you will look good in it anyway. You don’t have to worry about clothes that fit you or if they are big enough for you.
How good it feels to heal your body. Your knees and back feel as good as when you were younger.
The joy I feel each time I hear a compliment about my weight loss.
And now that I have 2 young kids, imagine how much it means to me to be able to play with them, running around the house and in the park, making fun memories that they will remember as they grow older.
Think of how much all of those mean to you too.
I know I stumbled onto something, and I know, I felt that I had to let you guys know too. It could change your life just as much as it has changed mine.
You can take what I said in this blog post and run with it. Or you can set it aside just like any another blog post you’ve read on weight loss.
But at the end of the day, you are the one who makes the decision.