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We make weight loss more complicated than it needs to be. Waste time with this or that supplement or some new celebrity yoga-kickbo-fusion routine, but at the end of the day all we’re doing is finding reasons not to get started.
If you’re a professional bodybuilder or an Olympic weightlifter, that’s a different story.
Strength-training and muscle-building are complicated arts that require a working knowledge of muscle groups and metabolic cycles to stimulate maximum growth.
If all you want to do is lose weight, though, you can throw that all right out the window.
Losing weight is a numbers game, so if you’re serious about getting in shape, it’s time to turn off your brain, put in your headphones, and run for your life. Below is the best running program for weight loss.
The Hard Numbers
This is grade school stuff: if we eat more than we burn, our bodies put away the extra calories for survival purposes. And a lot of us usually do overeat.
If you burn more than you eat, your body opens the pantry in your gut and starts using stored fat to keep you going.
You’ve no doubt heard the saying “calories in, calories out”, but it’s slightly more complicated than that.
To get the whole picture, take the number of calories you eat in a day and subtract both what you burn by exercising and your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
There are ways to estimate your BMR, but the fact is it’s unique for every person, and if you have consistently struggled with your weight then unfortunately yours is probably on the low end.
The greatest news is, you can actually increase your BMR through lifestyle changes. That’s right: once you get started, your body will work with you and start burning fat all the time, even while you sit on the couch.
High Intensity, High Yield
Now for the part you’re not going to want to hear. Most of us are already overweight because they don’t exercise.
Even though high-intensity workouts have been scientifically proven to be more effective, people are more likely to actually do the low-intensity workouts.
Therefore, starting with lower intensity workouts are productive since we are more likely to stick to the program.
Studies have consistently shown that high-intensity workouts have a higher impact on heart rate, hormone levels, venous blood glucose, lactate levels, and metabolic reactivity than low-intensity training, all of which results in a greater decrease in abdominal fat stores.
The blessing and the curse of high-intensity is that you can feel it working. You don’t need any formula to tell you that you’ve been working hard.
Any exercise that burns fat is going to make you sore and tired at first. You can use a stationary bike for cardio instead of running if that’s more convenient, but just make sure you keep up with your workout routine!
A good weight loss program needs to be high intensity.
The good news is that scientists have calculated that 3-4 total minutes of exercise a day is all you need to experience a dramatic reduction in subcutaneous body fat.
Yes, that’s right!
If you meet the required intensity, you can exercise for less than 5 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week, and start shedding pounds within 2 to 6 weeks.
Different studies have experimented with different regimens, but regardless of specifics, the results show high-intensity programs consistently cause far more fat loss than low-intensity aerobic programs, and with a far lower training volume to boot.
The workout itself is simple:
- Sprint all-out for 30 seconds. Intensity is measured in maximal oxygen uptake, which is a fancy way of saying that if you’re doing it right, it should hurt to breathe.
- Rest for 4 minutes. Most people walk between their sprints, but it is not necessary to try to get more exercise in between the sprints.
- Do whatever you have to in order to feel rested and ready for the next sprint, with two caveats. Don’t go from sprinting to standing still all at once or you might pass out.
- Walk slowly and swing your arms while you catch your breath. Also, usually a good idea to stay on your feet. If you sit down to rest, good luck getting up again.
- Repeat. Ideally, you should complete the full cycle 6 times, but for the program to be effective, you really do need to push yourself to the breaking point during every sprint. Shoot for at least 4 and you will get results.
Again, it only works if you can commit to every sprint, but it is recommended you try to complete the program 4 to 6 times a week.
If you keep it up, you should notice the difference within a handful of weeks, even if it’s the only change you make.
So, forget about complex diets and supplements, for now, and just get out there and run.
Habit is Key
If you’re familiar with the fitness scene, you probably have trouble wrapping your mind around such a simple program.
“It can’t be that simple! What about micro-cycles and why protein isolates and pre-workout BCAA blends with ginseng extract?” you might ask.
Sure, there’s a time and a place for all of that, if you’re serious about absolutely maximizing your progress and squeezing that last 0.01% out of your workout.
The first 99.99%, however, comes from actually doing the work.
You can get into the shape of your life [without even looking at protein powders or other supplements], and hand-wringing about running in the morning versus running at night is pointless if you aren’t running every day in the first place.
The problem is that people get addicted to the dopamine high of making progress, but the reality of fitness is that progress is slow and steady and does not come all at once.
People turn to supplements and funky routines because they secretly hope they can cut corners and skip all the hard work.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a long-term solution. Committing to your routine every day is the only way to ensure your weight loss success.
Pamela Anderson, the Baywatch star who built a career on her body image, relies on a lifelong running habit to maintain her figure well into middle age.
Her just-do-it, no-excuses mentality was exemplified when while recovering from a leg injury and totally unprepared for the challenge, she ran and completed the first full marathon of her life.
Pam had plenty of reasonable excuses to bow out of the race, and nobody would have thought less of her, but she knew the truth: she would never be truly prepared for such a feat.
At the end of the day, she would do it or she wouldn’t.
Amelia Boone, the three-time World’s Toughest Mudder champion who squeezes a brutal training regimen into the free time in her schedule as one of Apple’s top attorneys, is famous for eating pop tarts before each race.
She knows that world-class performance isn’t about strict diets or convoluted workouts.
It’s about doing the work, every day, no excuses.
If you’re serious about weight loss, you’re going to have to make peace with that simple truth. You do have to push yourself. It’s hard. It hurts a bit at first. But it well worth it.
Image Source: Gratisography