Exercising For Weight Loss: 7 Tips To Help You Make The Most Of Your Time In The Gym And Lose More Weight
When it comes to exercise, there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat.
Having trained myself for over ~cough~ 20 years, training family and friends for 8+ years and working with clients full time for over 4 years, there are a number of similarities that crop up in helping people to get the most from their time in the gym.
If you come to the gym looking to lose weight and are feeling lost and stuck as the results are no longer happening then this should help you.
Before I begin, I will say this though - you CANNOT out train a bad diet! Sure, improving your training thanks to these tips will help you see progress again.
However, if your eating habits are less than great, you WILL need to address that elephant in the room...sooner or later.
1. Make Smart Exercise Choices
When you're in the gym, you want to pick exercises that will work a lot of muscles at the same time because working more muscles = burning more calories.
So think about how many muscles you work doing a bicep curl compared to say, a lat pulldown.
So what are some great exercises to focus on?
and Hip Thrusts
If your workout is about 80% - 90% of these with the other 10% - 20% being exercises such as bicep curls, triceps extensions, calf raises, core exercises and exercises you enjoy doing, you will make fantastic progress
And no, those exercises won't make you bulky, they will help you get in shape - that donut you can't resist, that is what makes you bulky.
2. Challenge yourself
Let's go with the leg press exercise as an example and you're aiming to do 15 reps.
Are those reps challenging you or are you completing them with ease?
A good way to test this is to take the weight you're using for 15 reps and see how many reps you can actually do with it. If you start getting over 20 repetitions then it is time to increase the weight.
This is the system I use in my programs - Say I aim for 8 - 12 repetitions. If you're looking like a beetroot by reps 4 -6 the weight is likely too heavy. If you can complete 15+ reps, then the weight is too light. Adjust accordingly.
3. Have a plan and track it
Following on from the previous point, it pays to have some sort of plan and track your progress in the gym.
The main reason is it's tough to remember every weight, rep and set you did from session to session, week to week.
If you're aiming to do 3 sets of 15 reps for the leg press, are you guessing what weight you used the last time or do you know for certain?
If you're not doing some sort of tracking, how can you truly tell what progress you are making?
If you always put it on the same weight and do the same reps and sets or do the same cardio, this isn't a good thing for losing weight.
4. Always have a back-up plan
Along with having a plan, it's a great idea to have back up plans too.
There will be many times where the equipment you would like to use never seems to be free.
In those instances knowing what you could do instead saves you time waiting in the gym.
The substitutes don't have to be exact swaps, so long as they're generally working the same muscles
Here are a few ideas to help you:
CHEST PRESS MACHINE - Dumbbell Bench Press; Barbell Bench Press; Plate Loaded Chest Press Machine; Floor Press; Press Ups
SEATED BACK ROWS - Bent Over Barbell Row; Bent Over Dumbbell Row; 1 - Arm Bent Over Dumbbell Row (using a bench or freestanding); Cable Back Rows
SHOULDER PRESS - Barbell Shoulder Press; Dumbbell / Kettlebell Shoulder Press; Landmine (Angled Barbell) Shoulder Press
LEG PRESS MACHINE - Front Squats; Goblet Squats; Plate Loaded Leg Press; Trap Bar Squats (If your awesome Personal Trainer has one, hint hint); Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats aka Bulgarian Split Squats
LAT PULLDOWN - Assisted Pull Ups; Another Lat Pulldown machine; 1 - Arm Cable Lat Pulldowns
BICEP CURL MACHINE - Cable Machine Straight Bar or Rope Bicep Curls; EZ Bar Bicep Curls, Preacher Curl Bench, pretty much any dumbbell bicep curl variation you can think of
TRICEPS EXTENSION MACHINE - Cable Machine Straight Bar or Rope Triceps Extension; Skullcrushers; Dumbbell Triceps Extensions, If a bench isn't free, you can do a lot of extension exercises laying on the floor
AB CRUNCH MACHINE - From floor - Numerous Ab Crunch Variations; Mountain Climbers; Planks etc
5. Get inefficient
This is an area I see many people going wrong in the gym. It is also a very overlooked piece of the weight loss puzzle.
The human body is an amazing piece of kit. One of the amazing things it does is adapt, pretty quickly, to the demands we place on it.
In a gym setting - the first few times you came to the gym the equipment probably felt awkward, the weights heavy and the cardio machines kicked your butt. Your body is inefficient right now so it takes a lot of effort to do simple things.
A lot of effort requires more calories.
Over a few weeks, the equipment feels easier to use, the weights that felt heavy now feel light and you can easily do the cardio you were once struggling with and progress is going really well.
After a few months, you're still using roughly the same weights, same exercises and cardio settings. It now feels super easy... and the progress has completely stalled.
Your body has now adapted and become used to what you do in the gym. As a result, you are burning a lot LESS calories.
This is why it is important to challenge yourself and also important to change up your routine every 4 - 8 weeks.
Trying different things in the gym means your body isn't used to it so you're back to inefficient, calorie burning mode.
6. Get more done in less
When you first start in the gym, it's very common to do what is called straight sets.
Using chest press for example, it would look something like this:
Set 1 - Chest Press - 10 reps (say it takes 30 seconds)
Rest 60 seconds
Set 2 - Chest Press - 10 reps
Rest 60 seconds
Set 3 - Chest Press - 10 reps
Then go onto a different exercise and repeat.
A fantastic way to do more exercise in the same time is to start using supersets
This is where you do two opposite or non-competing exercises back to back
Think Lat Pulldown & Squats; Back Row & Press Ups
So how does this look in practice? Let's use Chest Press and Bodyweight Squats:
Set 1 - Chest Press - 10 reps & Bodyweight Squats - 10 reps (30 seconds each to complete, 60 seconds total)
Rest 60 seconds
Set 2 - Chest Press - 10 reps & Bodyweight Squats - 10 reps
Rest 60 seconds
Set 3 - Chest Press - 10 reps & Bodyweight Squats - 10 reps
By doing two exercises back to back, this can save you time, challenge your body and burn a LOT of calories.
7. Have a deload week
If you have been coming to the gym for a while, your muscles can start to feel a bit tired. Or mentally, you feel drained at the thought of coming to the gym.
It's time for a deload week.
This is where you reduce something in your workouts to they are not so demanding on the body, allowing you to recover more.
The more advanced the person is, the more often they should consider a deload week
Here are a few ideas:
1. A complete rest week - take 1 week off from the gym and rest as much as possible
2. Active recovery week - Don't come to the gym yet keep doing things to keep you active - walking, bike ride etc
3. Reduced volume - If you're doing 3 - 4 sets of exercises, keep the weight the same and ONLY do 1 - 2 sets
4. Reduced weight - Keep the sets and reps the same but reduce the weights you're using by 50 - 75%
This will allow you to recharge yourself mentally and physically so you can hit the gym again feeling fresher and stronger!
There you are, 7 tips to help you on your weight loss journey and get more out of coming to the gym.
If you have any questions about these tips or would like more information then you are welcome to contact me - Go to the contact page and send me a message.
This is my, mostly, Personal Trainer musings and information which I hope you'll find helpful!