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More Training Info > Speeding Up Fat Loss

Speeding Up Fat Loss

Q: Now that it's post-holidays and I've been slacking on my exercise program, do you have suggestions for how to speed up the weight loss and get back to pre-holiday condition?

A: If you're interested in losing a pound of fat a week, then you need to create a weekly caloric deficit of about 3500 kCal, the energy equivalent of one pound. You can do that by increasing your daily exercise by 500 calories (equal to a 5 mile run), decreasing your intake by 500 calories (eliminating one of your 4 or 5 meals, or a meal the size of 2 pieces of cheese pizza) or, what seems easiest for most, increasing expenditure by 250 calories and decreasing consumption by 250 calories. In any of the three cases, 7 x 500 calories difference = 3500 fewer calories per week, or one pound. This is a nice, safe rate of loss that won't results in loss of lean muscle tissue, which you want to preserve at all cost.

If you reduce your intake too drastically, or if you consume less than your basal metabolic rate of 1100-1200 calories a day, you'll start to slow down your metabolism and your body will use up lean muscle tissue for fuel. Yo-yo dieters fall victim to this quite often, resulting in a metabolism that is slow to react to increased aerobic and strength exercise. Instead of cutting way back on intake, increase your output. Include strength training as well as cardiovascular exercise, as strength training helps build lean muscle mass.

Try incorporating interval training into your program once or twice a week. Our on-line article addresses how to do interval training specific to climbing, but anyone can do interval training by selecting an activity and alternating between high and low intensity. For example, if you choose to jog, you'd warm up thoroughly and then go for about a minute at a higher intensity (i.e. faster pace), return to your warm-up pace for a minute, resume the high intensity pace for a minute, and so forth until you've completed your workout. Make sure you cool down and stretch afterwards.

Finally, try adding circuit training once or twice a week. Circuit training involves alternating back and forth between cardiovascular activity and strength exercise. For example, after a warm-up you might choose to do a minute of jumping rope, then a minute of bench squats, ride a stationary bike for a minute, do a set of pushups, step up and down on a stair for a minute, and do a set of triceps dips on a bench, and so forth, for the desired time. Intervals and circuit training can be lots of fun but also may feel more difficult than straight strength or straight aerobic sessions, so ease into these types of programs gradually.

One great way to do this effectively and safely is to enlist the help of a professional instructor such as Karen Voight, who has produced a number of quality circuit videos and DVDís.

Circuit Cardio & Strength

Burn and Firm DVD
Mix and match, up to 77 min double circuit more

Ultimate Circuit Training DVD
Multiple circuit options and 23 min. of ball training more

The bottom line is this: if you haven't been working out, simply getting back to your workout routine should help you see some improvement. Give it time -- it took a while to gain the weight; it will take a little longer (infuriating, isn't it??) to lose the weight. But do it safely, so you maintain your lean muscle mass as long as possible.



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