The very first time I reached my ideal weight of 120 lbs, I wasn’t very happy with how I looked. I thought that I was just being human and I’m just not easily pleased with my accomplishment. Looking back 2 years from then with a lot more knowledge regarding fat loss, I now understand why I didn’t like the way I looked. Basically, I looked like a smaller, but still flabby, version of me, only lighter.
My Biggest Mistake
Back then, I was like most people, as soon as I decided to lose weight, I would hit the treadmills and start running like a mad woman. I was so focused on getting my cardio done that I didn’t even care about lifting weights. The end result is skinny fat – I looked skinny but I mostly had fat. If you were to touch me, it would probably remind you of the pillsbury dough boy. If you were to ask me to do push ups, I would fall flat on my face on the very first repetition.
What was I thinking? Seriously though, a lot of people tend to start their weight loss this way. I know because I encounter similar situations in my job.
The Best Way to Achieve that “Toned Look”
Now that I have a few years of training under my belt and I have learned so much about exercise and nutrition, I have a good balance of cardio and strength training. When I am in a hurry and don’t have much time, I simply choose to lift weights rather than do cardio.
Here is a good template for a fat loss routine: Upper Body workout on Monday, Lower Body Workout on Wednesday, and a little bit of both on Friday. You can always switch the days if you workout on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. When I say upper body or lower body, I don’t mean that you should do isolation exercises like bicep curls. I mean do multiple joint exercises like military press, lat pull downs, chin ups, pull ups, squats, lunges, step ups, etc. If you really want to do some ab exercises, you should be doing planks, side planks, hanging knee raises, spider man climbs, mountain climbers, etc. Remember that in fat loss, you are better off doing these exercises because they help you burn more calories in less time.
In terms of sets and reps, I would focus on doing about 10-15 reps and 3 sets of each exercise. Then, you may increase the weight you lift by 2.5 lbs in some exercises so that you are making progress each and every week. Even if you have the same workout for 8 weeks but you are increasing your weights, you would still make progress. But, it would be good to change up your strength training routine every 3-4 weeks while keeping some of the big lift like squats and deadlifts in the mix.
Once you are done with your strength training workout and you still have time for cardio, go ahead and perform some high intensity intervalls which I talk about here. Better yet, if you’re a cardio king or queen which means that your body is used to running already, do some body weight intervals instead.
Following this template will reduce fat all over your body quickly than if you just did tons of steady state cardio. Also, you will gain some muscle mass which will give you that lean and toned look once you reduce the fat over your muscles.
I realize that this is a very general template but it will work for most people. Another thing to realize is, you can’t lose weight without taking care of your nutrition but I wanted this post to focus on the training. If you need help figuring out the amount of calories you should be eating based on your weight, height, and age, read this post on calculating your calorie deficit to get started. Nutrition would be best discussed in another post.