How to workout: Your exercise plan | Precision Nutrition

How to workout: Your exercise plan

by John Berardi, Ph.D.

Video Transcript

Welcome back.

In the past two lessons we covered how to eat and what to eat for fat loss.  In today’s lesson we’re going to discuss how to exercise for fat loss.  Because, if you wanna lose body fat, exercise is critical.

It doesn’t matter whether you want to:

  • Lose 15lbs
  • Lose 70lbs
  • Or even get into this kind of shape.

Exercise is the common denominator.

But here’s the thing. Just like with nutrition, so much is written about exercise that it can seem like you’re doomed without the perfect program.  Well that’s just more nonsense I’m sick of hearing.

Having personally coached thousands of clients, and having worked with some of the brightest minds in exercise physiology, I can tell you this.  Fat loss comes from doing just a few simple things.  And my goal today: teach you what they are. So that you can start doing them right away.

The first thing you need to know about exercising to lose fat?  You need to do something, and you need to do it now. Simply put, you need to get moving.

Now I bet you’re wondering: “what kind of exercise is best?”  Well, when exercising to lose fat, there are two specific goals.

The first is to burn calories. And the simplest way to do that? Aerobic exercise – like walking, jogging, climbing stairs, or riding a bike.  But here’s the thing: if you only do aerobic exercise, you may also lose lean mass. That’s a problem because it’ll lower your metabolism.

But more to the point, with aerobic exercise alone, you probably won’t end up looking as good as you can – as fast as you can.

So you’ll also need to do some exercise that shapes your muscles, to stay strong, look good, keep your metabolism high and burn fat faster.  And that means resistance exercise – like free weights, body weight training, circuit training, or group fitness classes.

In the end, if you wanna lose the most fat and look your best, you have to do some calorie-burning exercise and some body-shaping exercise.

So now that we know what kind of exercise to do, let’s talk about how much.  I’m going to give you a really simple answer here: 5 hours a week.

That’s what works with our clients, and there’s strong research to support the recommendation, too.  In fact, we did a study with the University of Wyoming where we looked at 1500 people who exercised regularly.  And the key result was this: those who exercised at least 5 hours a week were happiest with their bodies. While those that exercised less didn’t get the results they wanted.

So here’s the key takeaway: the ideal amount of exercise is around 5 hours per week, on average.

Now, some clients come to us doing almost 5 hours per week already. So, if they’re close to the magic 5 hour number, we just ask them to pump up the volume a little, or maybe change the kind of exercise they’re doing.

But, the truth is, other clients come to us doing a lot less.  Sometimes no exercise at all.  So, what do we do with them?

Well, let me first tell you what we don’t do. We don’t ask them to jump to 5 hours right away. Because, for most people, that’s too much.  Instead, we ease them into it, asking them to do just a little more than they’re currently doing.

Not only is that easier for them – it’s the right thing to do. In fact, it’s the only thing to do.  This expectation that people can make massive, instant changes to their lives — and make them last — is the biggest reason people fail to lose fat and keep it off.  (But we’ll talk more about that later in the course.)

If you’re doing nothing right now, just focus on moving a little more and exercising an hour or two each week.  And if you’re doing more exercise than that already, just gradually increase your volume until you reach five hours each week.  And make sure you’re doing both calorie burning exercise (like walking) and body shaping exercise (like training with free weights or group exercise circuits)

At this point, I want to share with you the single most important thing you will ever learn about exercise for fat loss: it’s a concept called “Progressive Overload.”  In plain English, it means: consistently challenging yourself to do a little more, or a little better.

For example, let’s say yesterday you went for a 10 minute walk. Well, then today; go for 11 minutes.  If in your last workout you lifted 25 pounds, then today; lift 30.

That’s progressive overload. Every time you do physical activity, you write down what you did, and the next time, you do more, or do better, even in the smallest ways.  It’s a really powerful – and unbelievably easy – technique.

So let’s recap.  The simple keys to exercising for fat loss are:

  • First – get moving – do some exercise and do it right away
  • Next – mix calorie burning exercise (like walking) with body shaping exercise (like training with free weights or group exercise circuits)
  • Next – work your way up to 5 hours of exercise per week
  • Finally – track what you do, and challenge yourself to do a little more, or a little better, each time

As long as you do those 4 things, you’ll lose fat quickly and for good.  And if you want some help putting it all together, check out the sidebar on the right.

So go ahead and check out these free exercise programs. Pick one, and start doing it right away.  And tune back in tomorrow to discuss the topic I get the most questions about, bar none: nutritional supplements.

We’ll talk about which ones should you take – or if you should take any at all.

See you then.