Sun. Jul 21st, 2019

How much exercise should I do each week to lose weight? We asked a fitness expert

Image: Instagram.Source:BodyAndSoul

Welcome to Hit Refresh. Over the next five weeks, we’ll be bringing you articles created by experts that will help you live your best life in 2019. Today, fitness expert Drew Harrisberg takes us through how much you need to workout to lose weight this year.

We are living in an age of rapid innovation. There are new gym programs, exercises and training methods popping up all the time, and most of them are claiming to be the ultimate way to get in shape. One minute the buzz is all about Crossfit, the next minute it’s F-45, Spin Classes, Boot Camps, HIIT, Tabata, Yoga, Pilates – the list goes on.

So the question that’s on everyone’s mind is; which one is the best? In today’s post, I’m going to define, once and for all, the ultimate plan to get results.

It depends on your goals

If your goal is to pack on muscle mass and become a bodybuilder and step on stage at the next Mr Universe competition, then I’d say spending an hour in the gym most days of the week is necessary to gain the amount of lean muscle mass required to compete at a high level. Some bodybuilders will even train twice a day for over an hour each time.

But If you’re just a regular guy or girl looking to put on some muscle, lose some body fat, and improve your fitness then I’d go as far to say that you can get the results you want in as little as 7-45 minutes just a few days a week, which brings me to my next point…

It depends on your intensity

When it comes to training there is an intensity-duration trade off. Basically, if you want to train really hard – you won’t be able to do it for very long. If you perform sprints or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) properly, you simply won’t be able to do it for very long.

Sprinting and HIIT does some pretty impressive things to our physiology.

Here’s why it is so effective:

  • It increases the number and function of our mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell responsible for burning fuel). More mitochondria mean greater fuel utilisation and fat burning capacity.
  • It depletes muscle glycogen stores making more room for incoming dietary carbohydrates and it improves your insulin sensitivity, both of which are a recipe for building a lean body.
  • There’s a scientific term in the exercise physiology world called ‘EPOC’ (excess post oxygen consumption). In layman’s terms, it means ‘The Afterburn’. Basically, the substrates formed during your workout are metabolised for 24-48 hours after you’re done with it. Yes, the 10 minutes you spend destroying yourself on the assault bike will pay off in the form of fat-burning for the next couple of days!
  • Research has shown that HIIT can also promote protein synthesis and help you gain some muscle.

It depends on your body type

There are three main body types: the ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. Ectomorphs are typically skinny with long limbs and stringy muscles. Mesomorphs are generally more muscular with a lower body fat percentage. Endomorphs generally have a blockier frame as well as a tendency to store fat easily, giving them a stocky, pear-shaped appearance.

While some people are characteristically one predominant body type, most of us are made up of a blend of all three. It’s very important that you’re able to accurately define your genetic make-up/body type in order to figure out which training method is optimal for you.

A classic ectomorph responds well to most forms of training however, they are generally hard-gainers i.e they have a difficult time building muscle. They require more time in the gym to stimulate muscle growth. They should focus on the main compound lifts under heavy load (things like deadlifts, squats, bench press, shoulder press, chin ups, dips etc) as well as increase their total volume (i.e reps x sets x load).

A classic endomorph is better off focusing on exercise intensity and density, i.e how much ‘work’ can you cram into a workout. They should focus on multi-joint compound movements with minimal rest. Things like full body resistance circuits comprised of the main compound exercises, sprinting (hills, stairs, assault bike, rowing machine), and some aerobic workouts like running will help them to lose body fat and gain some muscle mass.

A classic mesomorph seems to gain muscle simply by looking at weights. They can easily increase muscularity by doing low-intensity isolated exercises (bicep curls, tricep extensions, and shoulder raises). They respond well to most forms of training.

Just because you see a lean and muscular mesomorph doing bicep curls in the gym, doesn’t mean it will work for the endomorph. In fact, unless you’re looking to become a bodybuilder, I’d even argue that isolated single joint exercises like bicep curls and tricep extensions provide very little band for your buck when compared to dips and pull ups. Figure out who you are and train for your body type.

It depends on your personal preferences

Ask yourself this question: what do you actually enjoy doing? If someone tells you that powerlifting is the best way to get results but you’re an ectomorph who hates lifting extremely heavy weights, then you’re not going to comply with the program, are you? Just because it worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Figure out what exercises you actually enjoy doing, that way you’ll do them more consistently over your lifetime.

In my opinion, working out should be enjoyable. The thought of signing up for a boot camp to have a biggest-loser-style trainer yelling in your face in an attempt to instil fear, pain, and suffering just doesn’t seem very effective (unless of course, you enjoy that kind of stuff, then by all means, go for it!).

I’m sure you’ve heard the new buzzword at the moment…‘the grind’. I hear people say it all the time; “embrace the grind”. Unfortunately, this word has misled many people. Exercise doesn’t always have to be a grind. It doesn’t always have to hurt. Sure, every now and then there’s nothing wrong with a breakthrough workout that takes you to a dark place, but you certainly shouldn’t be going there every time. If you’re grinding for an hour in the gym every single day, then I’m afraid you’re doing something wrong.

The takeaways

Instead of looking at fitness as a one hour occurrence every day, we need to start seeing it as a 24-hour endeavour. What are you doing over the course of the day? How much sitting are you doing? Crushing a hard 60-minute workout doesn’t mean you earned the right to sit around all day and expect to see results. We should be training in a variety of HR zones and intensities, and ultimately strive to do something every day.Sure, your daily workout is important, but its only a small piece of a large complex puzzle. Outside of your daily workout you should be moving as much as possible. Things like walking, standing instead of sitting, taking the dog out, taking the stairs, getting off the bus a few stops early, stop relying on machines and technology to do the physical work for us.

The opportunities to move are endless. Whether it’s 45 minutes of weights in the gym, 20 minutes of resistance training with your body weight at home or outdoors, a 15 minute brisk walk after meals, going for an hour-long run, 6-10 minutes of a sprinting or HIIT – they’re all great tools to add to the kit. Find a use for them all.