Okay, so you want to drop a few kg and feel amazing in your body again, but you don't know how or where to start - look no further! This guide will teach you exactly how to burn fat while maintaining strength and energy with just a few adjustments to your workouts and nutrition.
Scroll down to read the guide and get the answers to all your questions 👇🏼
Are you ready?
Personal trainer & Founder of trainn
Step 1: Your workouts
#1 Focus on strength training 🏋️♀️
It's easy to think you have to do non-stop cardio if you want to lose weight. And while it definitely is amazing and for sure feels great sweating everything out, you're actually going to see much better results in the long run if you focus on strength training. But why is that?
Strength training is the number one ingredient to building muscle and burns calories, not only during the workout, but also for up to 24 hours after when your body is recovering from the workout. It is also a lot less energy draining than cardio, and can be more motivating because you feel yourself getting stronger and stronger each week. And finally, once you've reached the your weight loss goal, you'll not just look like a smaller version of yourself, but you'll have built a strong body and toned muscle.
Now, you should definitely still do cardio, but to avoid it draining all your energy aim to do it as an addition to your strength workouts. To maintain as much energy as possible, do it for 15-30 mins after a strength session or for 30-60 mins on a separate day.
How to do it:
Aim to strength train 2-4 times per week and start with a total of 90 mins low intensity cardio per week. For best results, do cardio after your strength workouts or on a separate day.
If your weight loss stalls for a few weeks, you can either manage your nutrition a bit more, or add a little extra cardio.
#2 Set a realistic training frequency 📈
I know, it's week 1 of your weight loss journey and all you want to do is go to the gym every day while you're feeling motivated and high on endorphins. But the truth is, you'll be able to stick to your training routine for much longer if you don't go every day. Something I always tell my clients is to see if their current routine is maintainable is: "if you can't see yourself doing it in 5 years, it's not sustainable".
It's also a good idea to spread your workouts out throughout the week with rest days in between. Rest days are where your body recovers from your workouts and builds itself stronger for the next one.
How to do it:
Set a workout routine that you see yourself maintaining, not only for a few months, but for years to come. For many people this is 2-4 workouts per week. If possible, spread the out throughout the week with rest days in between.
It's also helpful to write your workouts in your calendar so it becomes more of a habit and a part of your daily/weekly routine.
#3 Keep cardio low intensity 🏃🏼♀️
Cardio is great for improving your overall health, and is beneficial no matter what your fitness goal is. However, as mentioned in tip #1, we want our main focus to be on strength training, as this will help us build muscle.
If you want to include cardio, be strategic with it - doing too much or at the wrong time will leave you too tired for your strength workouts. Cardio burns energy, and we want to save this for your strength workouts. Too much cardio might burn the calories your body needs to build muscle, and therefore hinder your muscle building journey.
How to do it:
Aim to do cardio after your strength workouts or on a separate day. This way, you’re not hindering your strength workouts.
To maintain as much muscle as possible, aim to keep it at a low intensity for 15-45 minutes at a time. Low intensity cardio could be going for a run or stepping up on a cardio machine in the gym.
Step 2: Your nutrition
#1 Know what a calorie deficit feels like 🍛
We all know that calories = fuel.
Not only are calories what fuel your day and workouts, but they also help build up your muscle tissue after you've done a workout. That’s why you need to make sure you’re eating enough if your goal is to build muscle. Aim to eat 200-500 calories above your calorie maintenance.
If you don't regularly eat enough, it's going to be harder for you to build muscle. Why? Let's compare it to building an extension to your house - in order to build the extension you need the extra materials for it. If not, you won't have anything to build with. The same goes for building muscle - if you don't eat the extra calories your muscles won't have any nutrients to build themselves up stronger with.
Your calorie maintenance depends on factors like your activity level, age, gender & current muscle mass.
For women, calorie maintenance is typically 1800 - 2300 cals. A moderate surplus will therefore be 2200 - 2700 calories.
For men calorie maintenance is typically around 2300 - 2800 cals. A moderate surplus will therefore be 2700 - 3300 calories.
How to do it:
The best way to know if you’re eating enough to build muscle is to track your calories, weight and strength progress.
Aim to eat 200-500 calories above your calorie maintenance and keep and eye on your progress.
Your weight should stay the same or go up slightly, and you should see improvements in your strength. If you’re not seeing any progress in muscle or strength, up your food intake with another 100-200 cals.
#2 Don't forget protein & carbs 🥯
You’ve heard it before. A high protein diet will give you all the nutrients and building blocks your body needs to build muscle. It will also help you feel full for longer and avoid big dips in sugar levels or energy.
Protein will help repair muscle tissue after every workout and build them stronger for the next session. It's ideal that we get protein spread out throughout the all of our meals in the day instead of getting it all in 1 or 2 meals. There's only so much protein our body can absorb in one sitting.
As well as getting enough calories & protein, you also need to work enough carbs into your diet. They are what give you energy to have great workouts. A little extra carbs will allow you to squeeze in extra reps and therefore lead to better gains in the long run.
How to do it:
Aim to get in 15-30g of protein for your 3 main meals. This could for example be 180g tofu, 200g of cooked chickpeas, 2.5 eggs or 120g chicken or soy mince substitute.
Furthermore, aim to include whole grain carbs for at least 2 of your main meals. Great carb sources could be oats, brown rice, potatoes, wholegrain pasta or bread.
Step 3: Tracking your progress
No matter our goal, it's helpful to track our progress to make sure we stay on track. Building muscle is a slower process, but the reward for all your hard work and consistency is amazing! When building muscle, here's what you can expect in terms of progress 👇🏼
Your physique will change when you focus on building muscle. You'll notice your arms & legs getting more toned, and you might even see a few abs pop through. Enjoy the process and take progress pictures every now and then to compare the changes to your body.
Your weight might not change much or even go up a little. That's okay and all part of the process. It can be helpful to track your weight every week to make sure it doesn't increase too much or too quick, but don't focus too much on this. Instead focus on fuelling yourself and having energy for your workouts.
Your strength should definitely increase over time. If you're following a personalised training plan or otherwise tracking your workouts, you will notice the difference. Not only will you be able to lift heavier and heavier, but you will build a strong body, core and joints so you avoid injuries, niggles and pains. Goodbye lower back pain. Goodbye not being able to carry the groceries home. Goodbye low energy. Time to feel amazing in our body!
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Hi, I'm Sarah Louise 👋🏼
I am one of the personal trainers on trainn, as well as the founder & creator of it all.
My aim is to take you on a personalised fitness journey to a body you love and a lifestyle you can maintain. Real advice. Real results.
After coaching thousands of clients for nearly a decade and gathering lots of experience, I have designed methods that are proven to make your results stick with you forever.
Take your fitness to the next level, regain confidence and create a consistent routine through personalised workouts, weekly goals, healthy habits & expert advice. All unique to you.
Start your fitness journey today