The holy grail of weight-loss programs doesn't exist. It’s sad but true – there is no one workout that’s guaranteed to get you into phenomenal shape. Getting results is far more about the effort you put into your training, rather than the plan you follow. That being said, tweaking your workout schedule with a few fancy changes can kick things up a notch and take your weight loss to the next level.
Full-body training and split workouts are the two main ways you can train. Full-body training is exactly how it sounds – you hit your whole body in each session, whereas split training involves working a different body part every time you’re in the gym. When it comes to weight loss, full-body sessions are your best bet, claims Rachel Cosgrove, head trainer and owner of Results Fitness in California. Full-body workouts burn more calories and have a far bigger effect on your metabolism than split training, adds strength coach Marc Perry of BuiltLean.com.
The theory behind exercise selection is pretty simple – the more muscle groups you work, the more calories you burn, and the greater your weight loss. Therefore, your training should revolve around exercises that hit multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Think squats, lunges and deadlifts for your lower body, pushups, chin-ups or pulldowns, dips, rows and presses for your upper body, and planks, side bends or rollouts as core exercises.
Cardio plays a big role in weight loss, but it needn’t be your main focus. The key to making cardio work for you is to focus on quality over quantity. Interval training, where you perform short 20- to 30-second bursts of very high-intensity exercise interspersed with two to four minutes of moderate-intensity work is far more effective than long steady-state sessions, notes Cosgrove. Cardio doesn’t even have to be your traditional treadmill, bike or elliptical either. Try metabolic circuits, advises strength coach Jen Comas Keck of Red Point Fitness. Perform a circuit consisting of high-intensity exercises such as kettlebell swings, jump squats, medicine ball slams and sprints. Do each for 30 seconds and complete two to three rounds, resting 90 seconds between each.
Hit the gym for your weights sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, depending on which option suits your work and home life best. Perform five or six exercises that between them hit your whole body for three sets of eight to 12 reps each. You can either do 20 to 30 minutes of interval cardio or metabolic circuits after your weight training, or on a separate day. Keep the intensity high, and push yourself to do just a little bit more each workout.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.