This is a bulleted FAQ on shredding body-fat sustainably.
From training clients who have the last 5% to lose, beginners who might need more to lose to recreational athletes who are looking for next level results and accountability. Specific nutrition and training programs won’t be the same for all but there are core principles that apply to all demographics to achieving optimal body composition results and athletic training results.
1. How long is it going to take me to get to my ideal body?
It depends; if someone is telling you otherwise without fully understanding where your fitness levels are, health environment and what you’re willing to commit to than they’re taking a guess.
The speed of your results depend on the following factors:
The difference between your current body fat% and your ideal body fat%.
The bigger the difference, the bigger the required discipline and commitment if the time is shorter. This shouldn’t be surprise to anyone.
- Is your body in a healthy environment to shred body fat?
Focus on getting healthy first and your body composition results will come as a by-product. Focusing solely on fat loss can be the wrong strategy at the start if your body isn’t in the right state to burn it. If you’ve been accumulating years and years of lifestyle stress from under eating, overtraining, poor nutrition, stress management and lifestyle choices it’s almost certain that your digestion and some of your hormones aren’t working optimally.
- What you’re willing to commit to.
Talking about free meals and alcohol here. Everyone knows how to exercise and eat relatively healthy. From experience the number one thing holding people back from further fat loss results if they’re already training and eating healthy is their free meals and alcohol after a stressful day or on the weekend.
If you don’t track this it’s easy to undo a week’s worth of healthy eating by splurging at night or on the weekend. Go 2-weeks no processed sugars and alcohol and you will feel a big difference to your energy and the fat around your waist and belly.
2. What should I measure?
- Current calorie and macronutrient (protein, fats and carbs) intake for the day.
- Current weight and body-fat% (Dexa, BioSignature or BioPrint).
- Ideal calorie intake for your Goal and Measurements.
- Body type.
- Daily step count.
- Digestion (Bowel movements and hunger).
- Average hours of sleep.
- Stress levels (Resting HR).
- Blood work.
The more information that you know about yourself the easier it is to determine what you need to change in order to get your fat loss results moving in the right direction. If you’re a female who is currently eating 800 calories/day but your ideal calorie intake goal for fat loss is around 1300-1400 on a training day than it’s easy to see that under eating and malnourishment is a contributing factor to your results stalling.
You would then work on addressing that one assessment.
Other ways you can interpret data from your measurements:
- Body-fat% and body type. The lower the body-fat% the better the tolerance to carbs you have. Men, low is 10% and women anywhere between 10-15% depending on body type.
- Daily step count. Too low could be 4000-5000, you can aim to move more during the day outside of training to improve your NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis). A good goal for fat loss and weight loss is 8000-10000 steps per day.
- Blood work. The creme-dela-creme of finding vitamin, mineral and nutrient imbalances and deficiencies. Address the deficiencies through nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle and you’ll be in a better position to achieve your all year round best body.
Measure what you need to until you know how to read your body on it’s own.
3. What’s the best nutrition system for fat loss?
The one that best manages your health, blood sugar and systematically puts you in a calorie deficit most of the time, not all the time. If you’re bigger boned, have sore joints and more inflammation you’re going to do better with more protein and fats initially. If you’ve only got the last 5kg’s and stubborn fat to lose than meal timing and carb timing (having carbs only at certain meals) will work well along with keeping track of your overall calories.
Nutrition is one thing, you also have to exercise and train as it’s better to create a calorie deficit through training so you’re still able to feed your body with quality nutrients.
4. Can I ever have a cheat meal, cheese and drinks ever again?
Of course, there’s no right or wrong how fast or slow you want to achieve your results by. If you’re not sensitive to certain types of food you can fit it into your daily intake or systematically structure it in to your benefit. If there’s no deadline such as a wedding or fitness competition you want to get results by doing less. If you’re dropping body fat having a free meal every weekend there’s no reason to stop having it.
However my own preference is to get to your ideal body first and then do what you want after that as it will be easier to maintain and you’ll know how look after it because you’ve gone through the process.
The best time to have a free meal is in the evening, it’s when your muscles are more insulin sensitive (moved for the most part of the day), limits the amount that you can have as you don’t have a whole day and the extra carbs will promote sleep.
Use the extra energy to train harder and perform better the following week.
5. I enjoy running and playing sport, can I lose fat that way?
It’s not as effective.
You store carbs/glycogen within your muscle cells and the most effective way to use them is to train them directly with through weight training. By increasing your lean muscle mass you’re also increasing your metabolism outside of training.
If you enjoy running and sport use it as a recreational activity that increases your NEAT and not a your primary tool for fat loss. You’ll find that as your body-fat drops and your mobility and strength increases through weight training so will your performance in sport.
You’ll have a better power to weight ratio.
Eating at a calorie deficit along with running and short sharp sprints it’s a recipe for injuries. You’re banging your legs hard on the pavement frequently each week and not getting in enough nutrients to recover.
6. Sport is my primary focus but I want to lose fat and/or strengthen my muscles.
Focus on your nutrition and have a strength training program that doesn’t take away from your performance in sport. For e.g. you’re not going to structure max effort Squat and Deadlift days a day before running a marathon or a game of football.
The more you want to do the more you need to train in percentages to manage stress.
- Week 1 – 80%
- Week 2 – 90%
- Week 3 – 100%
- Week 4 – 110%
Longevity and injury prevention is key here. By incorporating a strength training program you can also get fitter and stronger whilst still having more reps left in the tank. You’re not 100% exerting yourself every session but you’re still getting stronger.
That’s going to give you more energy and confidence to be able to do more in sport.
7. Should I do group training or personal training?
Group training is good for beginners. A lot of the classes are the same only branded differently, there’ll be a bubbly instructor motivating you, saying how well you’re doing (even though they’re speaking to the whole class) and at the end they’ll say “see you next week”. They use the high of energy pumping in the room and endorphins to trick you into thinking you’ve had an effective session.
What you actually want is results.
- Results on paper
- ROI that can positively been seen in other areas of your life
If you’re looking to strengthen certain parts of your body, break through a training plateau and learn how to perform correct technique where you’ll be able to train on your own than personal training or having a coach who gives you individual and specific guidance is the way to go.
There’s no limit to your progress and you’ve got the flexibility to train when you want and not have to rely on a class schedule.
A good trainer will help you with:
- Performance tracking
- Training structure/program
- Coaching on the above
- Answer your questions
- Knowing how to motivate you
- Leave you knowing how to train on your own
They absolutely must have results for past clients or at least themselves for the goals that you want to achieve.
Insert plug for our own personal training service here 😉
8. What are some conditioning workouts I can do after training?
In no particular order:
- 8-10 Sets of 30-60 Seconds Sprints (Treadmill, bike, rower or 50m outdoor sprints)
- 15-30 Min Steady State (Incline Walk, Stepper or Cross Trainer) Time depending on fitness level
- Time Capped 15 Minute HIIT Circuits (Rope Slams and Sled Sprints)
A reason as to why to include 2-3 conditioning sessions in a week when you’ve got time to do it during a fat loss phase is so you can create a calorie deficit through training and not have to take away more food.
In a lean muscle building phase you would incorporate some conditioning to maintain your cardiovascular fitness and insulin sensitivity as when you’re in a calorie surplus you eventually get to a point where muscle building just turns into fat gain.
Yeah, running isn’t a bad thing.
9. What are some training principles so I’m always progressing?
- Change your training program every 4-5 weeks. Your body adapts to training and you need to continually challenge it so you’re either getting fitter or stronger as both help with body composition and fat loss.
- Progressive overload. Get stronger or fitter each week by tracking your training performance. This can be an increase in weight on the bar or DB by 1-2kg’s each week or by performing an extra rep within your prescribed rep ranges.
- Learn how to rest and sit still between workouts and sets. The more rested you are, the harder you can perform and produce the energy expenditure and hormones that will be beneficial for fat loss. If your performance is always decreasing because you’re not resting efficiently you’re not going to be able to exert as much energy.
10. How many reps and sets should I do when starting?
12-15 reps, 4 sets per exercise and between 6-8 exercises a training day for beginners.
A full body workout might look like this:
A1: DB Squat 12-15 reps into
A2: Incline DB Press 12-15 reps X 4 sets
B1: Seated Row V Bar 12-15 reps into
B2: Leg Curl 12-15 reps X 4 sets
C1: Plank 60 Seconds into
C2: Sled Sprint – There & Back X 4 sets
When training to improve your fitness and fat loss you want to train in your anaerobic energy system initially (40-120 seconds time under tension). Anaerobic energy system uses the glycogen stored in your muscle cells as it’s primary source of energy. Getting better at tolerating lactic acid that builds up in your muscles when you train is a good thing if you’re looking to strip body fat.
As you get fitter, leaner and stronger you can cross train between different energy systems (low reps, moderate and high) to get even better.
11. I want to get started with weight training at the gym but I’m scared.
From being a beginner in the gym, unhealthy, weighing 100kg’s and overweight to losing it, helping others and running a personal training business within a gym for the past 8 years here’s what I know about being scared:
- Everyone starts somewhere
- Use your experience from past achievements to help you through your next goal
- The more intimidating they look the friendlier they are
- Everyone’s focused on themselves anyway
- Ask for help as you’ll learn faster
- Have a program to follow like a robot, focus on your training and you won’t even notice other people around you
- The best performers are usually the ones that are low key, better to copy their technique rather than the guy throwing weights around and not putting them back where they belong
- Have fun
12. I have a lot of stuff on my social calendar, can I still get results?
Yes, it comes down to being prepared and knowing how to deal with social situations when you’re on a health kick. When you have friends and family that are supportive it’s always going to be much easier.
When you don’t have a supportive network here are my tips:
- Research places that cater to your nutritional needs
- Advise the group of friends that you’re with that you’re on a health kick
- Do you really have to attend? (Maybe ask if you don’t want to or need to)
- Get all your healthy meals and training in before your social event so you don’t under nourish yourself
- Go back to eating your normal healthy meals the next day
- Be around other fit people and you’ll find that eating healthy and training is normal
- Unsupportive friends are only afraid that you’ll judge them because it’s a reflection of what they’re not doing. If you feel that it’s necessary communicate across that it has nothing to do with them
13. If there’s a process to follow what would it be?
In this order you can go from a complete beginner to pro trainer completely transforming your health, body and lifestyle.
- Know your WHY
- Set yourself up a mood board of your body composition goals
- Tell your mates you’re getting shredded
- Find someone to help you
- Have a nutrition and training program at the very least
- Learn about nutrition and basic biochemistry (how your body works on the inside)
- Learn how to move and train
- Learn how to engage the muscles you’re trying to work
- Get fitter, faster and stronger
- Continually seek feedback and track your results
- Adjust your nutrition and training program when you need to (every 4 weeks)
- Repeat steps 9-11 until you achieve your desired results
- You now have freedom with your energy and health
- Seek out new challenges such as sport once you’re shredded
Steps 1-5 you can have in place within a day, steps 6-9 you can learn within 2 months and steps 10-15 can range between 3,6 and12 months depending on what health factors you need to revers/get right and how discipline you’re willing to execute.
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