Getting lean always takes time. Unfortunately, time is something that many of us don’t have a lot of–or at least not enough. If you only have the opportunity to train a few days a week, here’s what you should do to increase and maximize your efforts in the direction of leanness: give consideration to the hierarchy of fat loss! This is simply a ranking of the different elements of an effective weight loss program, categorized in order of importance. Here it is:
1. Correct Nutrition
You must have heard this popular fitness anecdote: you can’t outrun a bad diet. If your diet isn’t healthy, it doesn’t matter how much you sweat — you won’t be able to get rid of that unwanted fat. Proper nutrition is the place to begin.
2. Activities that burn calories, promote muscle mass, and raise metabolism.
The majority of calories burned are determined by our resting metabolic rate (RMR). The calories burned outside of this are so much smaller in number and do not make up the bulk of what we burn in a day. Your RMR is a function of how much muscle you have and how hard it works. Adding activities that promote or maintain muscle mass will make that muscle mass work harder and raise your metabolic rate.
High intensity interval training is a good example of this kind of exercise. You could do short sprints or even play a high intensity sport such as basketball.
3. Activities that burn calories and elevate metabolism
This is the next stage of fat burning activity. Look for activities that burn calories and raise your EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption). This is the metabolic rate’s recovery to pre-exercise levels. If you are doing light exercises, this recovery could take several minutes. If you do hard intervals, it could take hours. Find activities that make the return longer.
An example of this would be running or swimming where you don’t gain much muscle mass but lose a lot of calories during the exercise.
4. Activities that burn calories but don’t necessarily maintain muscle or elevate metabolism.
These activities burn calories but don’t contribute to an elevated metabolism. This is the least effective method as it doesn’t burn calories outside of the activity itself. So if you are only looking to maintain your shape without losing much weight, this type of exercise might be good but otherwise, it won’t be very effective.
If time is a major issue for you, don’t devote the little you have to doing things that are not effective towards your goals. Get your diet in shape and go from there. Start with the activities listed above, like number 2, that will give you the most bang for your buck.