We know that fitness often gets oversimplified, especially when it comes to losing fat and building lean muscle. With that being said, one thing we know for sure is that clean eating combined with some form of consistent strength training can be beneficial for most. To find out how you can lose fat faster (no, this won't happen in a few days), POPSUGAR spoke with Rondel King, MS, CSCS, an exercise physiologist at NYU Langone's Sports Performance Center.
Rondel explained that there are charts and information at the gym that explain fat-burning zones and where your heart rate needs to be to burn fat. According to Rondel, "There's a lot of variability there because we are all different and will require different heart rates to be in a particular heart-rate zone for you to utilize fat as your fuel source."
He explained that these heart-rate zones are "somewhat directly related to burning adipose tissue as opposed to free fatty acids." Instead of relying on a chart to lower your body fat percentage, Rondel said, "The best thing for you to do is to create an environment that's conducive to weight loss or to utilizing adipose tissue."
This environment doesn't require an elite gym membership or fancy equipment. Rondel said it simply "requires you working out and developing lean muscle mass." Having more lean muscle will increase your resting metabolic rate, which will help you burn more calories at a rested state, Rondel explained.
If you're wondering what types of workouts you should be doing, Rondel said resistance training is a great starting point. "The more muscle you have, the higher your calorie expenditure will be," he said. Rondel also recommends high-intensity interval training to lose body fat because "it produces precursors to things like testosterone and growth hormone and things that will potentially help you increase your lean muscle mass."
HIIT workouts also create an environment that is anabolic, "sparing your muscles, [as] opposed to if you're doing long-distance/steady-state cardio that's more catabolic — breaking down [muscle] tissue." Cardio isn't bad to do, but Rondel explained that it does increase stress hormones like cortisol that are "very catabolic in nature and do not promote tissue growth to an extent." According to Rondel, "Cardio actually breaks down muscle tissue, which can be counterproductive to someone who is trying to lose weight."
At the end of the day, Rondel said, "it all comes down to the individual's goals and where they are in their training" when trying to lose fat. Fat loss is often oversimplified, but it's important to remember "there are a lot of variables that come with it."
If you're new to strength training and not sure where to begin, consider following one of these plans:
- Learn how to lift weights with this four-week strength-training plan
- A four-week program to get back in shape and build muscle
- An all-level workout plan to burn fat and build muscle
- A one-week workout plan