Firstly and most importantly; Prioritize Nutrition!!!
Yes, this is a training article, but nutrition is the single most important thing for fat loss. If you're serious about stripping off body fat, you must make time for grocery shopping, cooking, meal prep, doing dishes, and keeping a food journal. If you don't have time for this, make time. Cut down on time wasters like social media, web surfing, playing on your phone, or watching TV.
If you truly have eliminated every possible time waster and are still pressed for time, train less to have the time to take care of your nutrition. That's right, train less! For example, in my fat loss programs, I have Tuesdays and Saturdays as shopping/meal prep days. You can still train on these days, but if you're truly pressed for time, sacrifice your training on these days to take care of your top priority for fat loss – your nutrition.
Let’s Say You’re New To Strength Training And You Embark On A Strength Training Regimen.
Scenario One: Let’s say you’re a male and you’re currently 25% bodyfat – you weigh 90kg with 22kg of fat and 68kg of lean bodymass.
Scenario Two: Let’s say you’re a female and you’re currently 30% bodyfat – you weigh 58kg with 17kg of fat and 41kg of lean bodymass.
You start lifting weights and over the next year, you gain a ton of strength. These strength gains are accompanied by increases in muscular hypertrophy.
You gain 4 kg of muscle but you don’t gain any weight. This means that you have to lose 4 kg of fat (or very close to it).
Scenario One: Now our male still weighs 90 kg, but he has 72kg of lean bodymass and 18kg of fat, and is 20% bodyfat (down from 25%).
Scenario Two: Now our female still weighs 58kg, but she has 45kg of lean bodymass and 13kg of fat, and is 22% bodyfat (down from 30%).
But since muscle is around 18% more dense than fat, even though no weight is lost, the body shrinks, especially around the midsection. So the body firms and shapes up in the right areas and shrinks down in the problematic areas. This is why resistance training is King when it comes to improving the physique.
I realize that this may be hard for some to visualize, so check out the DEXA scan below >>>
If you start lifting weights and you don’t gain any weight over time, the yellow stuff (fat) strips away and the red stuff (muscle) increases. The body shrinks down slightly and firms up.
Now, you may lose weight, stay the same weight, or gain weight during your strength training career. But no matter what your scale weight is at, you’ll carry more muscle and less fat if you’re lifting weights compared to if you’re not.
The point of this article is to portray that strength/hypertrophy (muscle gain) training is fat loss training. The majority of individuals prioritize vast amounts of cardio and conditioning while starving themselves to see physique results, when most of these people would be better off focusing their attention on getting stronger, adhering to a consistent strength program, and consuming optimal macronutrients including adequate protein to support muscle growth.
Proper amounts of cardio and conditioning work are absolutely necessary and should be built around your strength training regime. But they do not build significant amounts of muscle like strength training does. Therefore, they cannot create physique changes like the ones shown in the DEXA image above. Let’s say our 90kg man and 58kg woman instead embarked on an intensive cardio regimen for a year rather than focusing on progressive resistance training, but they ate intuitively and ended up staying the same weight on the scale. They would have ended up gaining a few pounds of muscle and losing a few pounds of fat, which would have only created a modest change in bodyfat percentage and physique improvements.
If you enjoy cardio, then by all means, please do some.
But if your goals are physique related, gaining strength through progressive resistance training is a much more efficient and effective route, so make sure you prioritize accordingly and focus on building muscle.