10 Personal Training tips to help you strip fat

Tip #1 – Use resistance training to build, and diet and cardio to burn

When stripping away fat, you also want to maximize your existing muscle tissue. If you don’t, you will risk losing fat and muscle as you shed pounds, and end up thinner but with an unathletic physique.

Don’t use resistance training as a “calorie or fat burn.” Instead, continue to train normally in the gym, pushing for more weight on the bar (or at least try to hold on to your current strength levels). Use cardio and your diet to knock off the fat.

This simple tip, more than any other, will assist you in building your dream body while shedding the pounds. The human body needs a reason to hold on to muscle tissue during a cutting diet. Resistance training is the mechanism that does just that. Make sure you have a Personal Trainer if you haven’t trained before to guide and motivate you.

Tip #2 – Drop your calories slowly; don’t make big jumps

This is a huge mistake that most men and women make. When they decide to lose weight or go on a cutting diet, daily calorie intake is dropped substantially. Don’t do this.

Instead, pull back your calories slowly. I recommend dropping calories by only 300-400 per day during the first 2 weeks. This minor adjustment may be enough to lose weight consistently. This small change, compared to a sudden 1,000 calorie drop per day, is much easier to stick to. Duh, right? Why make your diet more difficult than it needs to be.

If after 2 weeks your fat burning rate isn’t where you want it to be, drop calories by another 200 per day and monitor weight loss for an additional 2 weeks. Set a goal to lose about 2 pounds of fat per week, 3 pounds tops. This is usually an optimal rate for individuals looking to hold on to as much muscle tissue as possible while shedding fat.

This combination will help give you the athletic and/or muscular body you are after.

Tip #3 – Don’t overkill cardio

Your diet should be the primary driving force behind your fat loss. For this reason, you want to dial in you calories first before adding in extra cardio sessions. In fact, you may not need to add in any additional cardio at all. 3-4 sessions for 20 mins is ample. This is an excellent way to improve your overall health and cardiovascular endurance. Don’t add in any extra cardio sessions unless your weight loss stalls on your current diet.

If you are losing fat at a consistent rate, there is no need to increase your cardio. Don’t mess with what is working.

Tip #4 – Drop resistance training set volume when cutting

When moving to a fat loss diet, I recommend keeping the same workout intensity (weight and reps per set), but decreasing the number of sets you do per exercise or workout. Recovery will be more difficult when you are eating fewer calories, so a reduction in overall sets by 20-30% may be beneficial.

So if you are performing 4 sets of 10 reps on the bench press, drop a set. If you are performing 20 total sets on leg day, back the volume down to 14-16 total sets.

Remember…do not decrease the weight used. You still want to push hard in the gym, maximizing each and every set (see the tip above in the muscle building section).

Tip #5 – Break away from boring cardio

Cardio doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, cardio SHOULDN’T be boring. Get off the treadmill or elliptical and do something fun.

You cardio sessions can involve any form of movement. Go for a hike or swim. Try rollerblading or ice skating. If you can’t break free from the gym, then try complexes, circuits or HIIT sprints on the treadmill. Even kettlebell swings are far more engaging than grinding out miles staring at a wall or TV screen.

Find a form of cardio you like. Exercise shouldn’t be tedious. A calorie burned is a calorie burned. It doesn’t matter how you burn calories, as long as you do so.

Tip #6 – Move away from low-fat and low-sugar processed foods

Try to avoid eating too many “low-fat” and “low-sugar” foods while on a cutting diet. Low-fat foods usually have added sugars and ingredients (thickeners), etc., to make them taste better. Low-sugar foods often have fats added to them to improve taste.

“Low” anything is not an indication that a food product is inherently healthier. Instead of opting for these types of foods, stick to whole foods such as veggies, fruits, eggs and grains, nuts and seeds. Whole foods are more nutrient dense and will help you remain satisfied when trying to burn off extra fat.

On the other hand, food that isn’t as nutrient dense might trigger cravings, as your body seeks to obtain vital nutrients for every day bodily functions.

Tip #7 – Stop eating bland meals that make dieting hard to stick to

A fat burning diet doesn’t need to be comprised of plain meat, carbs and veggies. It’s ok to have food that tastes good.

If you hate, or are bad at cooking, try placing some simple sauces on your meals. They are very easy to make, and pack a lot of flavor. I use some of the following combinations:

  • Abodo sauce (found in nearly every grocery store, look for it) and a small amount of heavy cream on tilapia
  • Sour cream and salsa over chicken
  • Hot sauce and minced garlic over beans

I also make spinach salads using a homemade dressing of rlemon and olive oil.

Sauces and seasonings can be a game changer. Don’t hesitate to purchase items like spice blends, garlic powder or hot sauces to add some taste to boring meals.

Tip #8 – Forget trends, bad advice and fad diets

Structure diet plans around your eating tendencies. There will be many telling you to eat “this way or that way”, or trying to get you to use the latest fad diet of the month. While these folks (and even trainers) mean well, it’s best to analyze your existing eating habits and structure a diet plan based around them.

If you are a big night time eater, save more of your calories for 5-9 pm. If you like to snack throughout the day, plan high protein, low calorie snacks that satisfy your cravings.

Spend a week documenting your eating times and food choices. Then, try to structure a high protein, healthy diet that best fits these habits. You will be more likely to stick to cutting diets if it isn’t leaving you hungry when you typically want to eat.

Tip #9 – Ignore week one weight loss

The weight you lose during week one indicates very little. Here’s why… When you drop calories, you are also dropping your carb intake. When eating cleaner foods, there is also a strong likelihood that your sodium intake will drop as well.

Both carbohydrate and sodium intake encourage water retention. Less carbs and salt, the less water your body will hold. Because of this, you will flush a lot of water during your first week on a reduced calorie diet. This is not fat loss.

During the second and third week of your cutting diet, the water flushing process is pretty much over and your weekly weight loss rate will stabilize some. It is during these weeks that the true impact of your calorie intake will become apparent.

Tip #10 – Make your cheat windows flexible

Having a cheat meal (not a pig out) each week is a good idea. It will help keep your metabolism humming along smoothly. I recommend one of two ways to cheat:

  1. One hour of as much clean food as you want. This allows you to eat a little extra once a week, but keep your calories in check.
  2. One dirty meal per week of anything, as long as you limit the quantity of food to a single plate. This allows you to eat at family gatherings, holidays, etc., and relax a bit without looking like a “bodybuilder who brings their own Tupperware meals” snob.

I recommend keeping these cheat periods flexible. By this I mean instead of scheduling them, let life or cravings dictate when you cheat. If you are having a stressful day at work and want a little extra food tonight, allow yourself to have an one hour clean food cheating period. If your employer suddenly decides to buy everyone pizza for lunch, use your weekly cheat meal and put 3 slices on a plate.

I have found that when I plan cheat meals/windows I usually regret it. Something unplanned always comes up later in the week. For this reason I prefer to just let life happen and cheat as my week dictates.

Hope you enjoyed today’s tips!

Yours in Fitness and Health,

Tim Leposa,

Fit For Living Personal Training, Geelong