Let’s focus on cardiovascular training and where most people make mistakes when trying to burn fat and lose weight. Most personal trainers will agree that low intensity cardiovascular work is a great start if you have been sedentary for a long time. However, the biggest issue with low intensity cardio training is that your body will adapt and results will plateau after six to eight weeks. When this occurs, you need to move to an interval-based cardio program to accelerate the fat loss process.
A common mistake people make is doing their cardiovascular training before their weight training sessions. This actually makes you weaker for your weight training session by lowering your blood ph — making it harder for your muscles to recruit high threshold fibers. I recommend completing your cardio interval training after your weight training routine. Doing this will empty your glycogen stores, making the fat burning process more effective throughout the cardio program. Your other option can be to alternate your aerobic (cardio) training and your anaerobic (weight) training on different days entirely.
There are various approaches you may use to design an effective cardio routine. You could follow a weight training split, where most of the workouts are 45 minutes long — ending each workout with an intense 15-minute interval session. Recently, in my own personal training sessions, I have achieved better results when training five days out of six with two of the five days consisting of 20 to 40 minute cardio sessions. You can choose a variety of work-to-rest intervals, but try and make the session last for at least 20 to 40 minutes. Experiment with different training implements such as the prowler, sprints, stationary bike, boxing or a fast jog. The two cardio sessions can differ by varying the work-to-rest ratio.
For example, a workout split might look like this:
- Day 1 – Arms / Delts
- Day 2 – Legs
- Day 3 – Aerobic Cardio (1:1 work:rest)
- Day 4 – Chest / Back
- Day 5 – Anaerobic Cardio (1:3 work:rest)
- Day 6 – Rest
- Day 7 – Repeat
Since muscle is the only tissue that burns calories, and you need more of it to become leaner. For example, sprinters are often very muscular, while endurance runners are not — mainly because each group trains differently for the specific outcomes they desire. To burn fat more efficiently, focus on lifting weights and careful planning when creating your cardiovascular workouts. Set personal training goals to decrease your body fat percentage and increase your muscle mass. Avoiding a low calorie eating plan and doing too much aerobic work will also help you to reach your goals.
While cardio training will successfully burn fat while you are working out, weight training mixed with proper cardiovascular interval work will create more lean muscle to help your body melt away fat during — and after — your workouts.