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It’s a question I hear all the time…

“How much exercise do I REALLY need?!”

And if I’m honest, it depends on your goals and how fast you want to achieve them…

You see, I’m all for blasting fattimus from the assimus double pronto to help kick off a healthier and more active lifestyle, but long-term you’ve gotta have some sort of game plan that you can stick to week in, week out.  And this game plan needs to revolve around your goals, whether it be losing weight, toning up or just being a wee bit healthier. So…

I’m gonna break it down into three different goals for you and give you some rough guidelines to help you reach those goals and stick with this health and fitness lark long term.  That okay with you?!  Lovely-jubbly…

First off, I recommend you aim for 3-4 workouts a week. That’s doable and you should always carve out time in your life to make this happen. I’m not saying every workout  has to be an hour long or anything like that, because more time doesn’t necessarily mean better results and chances are that you haven’t got time for that anyway.

You see, it’s all about getting the biggest bang for your buck and that means you need to use your time effectively and tie your workouts in with your goals and your lifestyle. I know this sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised by the amount of people that just join a gym and hop on a treadmill without giving any thought as to whether plodding along at the same pace will get them closer to their goals. So…

Let’s have a look at 3 of the most common goals I hear and my recommendations for each…

Your Goal: Lose Weight
success-with-lean-in-19-wr2You Need: HIIT 3x week + Strength Training 1x week

I’m assuming you’re short of time, just like the rest of us and because of this you need need to get in and out quickly, while at the same time firing up your metabolism, so it can burn lard for several hours after.

For this reason, I recommend you throw in some HIIT or metabolic conditioning (pretty much the same thing). Workouts that combine weights, bodyweight exercise and cardio can all be classed as HIIT. It’s this combination that brings about the best fat loss results, as this gets your lungs and heart working much harder, which means you burn more calories and get a shorter workout.

However, don’t get caught up in the calories burned. You see, research has shown that two exercises burning the same amount of calories can have a radical difference on burning body fat.

That’s why I want you to think about the hormonal response of your workouts. With HIIT (or Metcon) not only do you burn a hell of a lot of calories during your workout, you also flip the balance of your hormonal mojo to favour fat loss. Happy days!

If you’re doing bodyweight exercises such as squats, push-ups, lunges,  etc with your HIIT workouts…well done, that’s a great start and something I always recommend.

Although, it also pays to throw in a pure resistance training workout (using dumbbells or kettlebells if possible) without getting your heart and lungs going like the clappers.

You see, muscle burns calories so adding some more muscle tone to your bod means you’ll actually bump up your metabolic rate, which will make it easier for you to keep belly fat at arms length over the long haul. Plus, you’ll look better naked, which is never a bad thing!

DudeYour Goal: Look More Toned
You Need: Resistance Training 2x week + Cardio Or HIIT 2x week

First off, yes, you can do both: tone up and lose weight.

Beginners will often notice a difference in both over the first 6-8 weeks. However, I’m looking at this one with the view that you’re in half decent shape…at least in terms of body fat and fat loss isn’t your primary goal.

Now, if you’ve been smashing out the HIIT sessions left, right and center there’s a tendency to keep doing this forever and forever…because it does a good job at burning fat.

However, it’s wise to have a balance and, as I mentioned above, add a wee bit more muscle to your bod. For want of a better word, this will allow you to “sculpt” your body and give it some shape. I don’t know about you, but the skinny rake look doesn’t do it for me…

healthy woman fadeYour Goal: Stay Healthy
You Need: Resistance Training 1x week + Cardio Or HIIT 1-2x week + More Moving

Everyone wants to be healthy, but for most peeps it’s not their number one priority.

Most people want to lose weight to look better in their under-crackers, it’s as simple as that!

Having said this, I’ve found that with many of my clients, that are of a certain “vintage”, prefer to focus on their health.  As we get older (and have kids), health definitely becomes more of a priority…it certainly has for me anyway!

Of course, tackling the goals above will make us more healthy too, but there are plenty of people out their who are happy with the shape of their body and are more concerned with being healthy.

I must admit, over the last year I’ve been in this category. I’ve not been trying to lose weight or improve muscle tone, but simply maintain my health and fitness.  So, I’ve been mixing it up with gym workouts, kettlebells, the odd run and some HIIT. It’s nice to have some variety and not have to bust my ass with a HIIT (or Metcon) workouts each week.

Summary

As I mentioned at the start of this article, I’ve got no problems with going all guns a blazing when you’re first starting out of your fat loss mission.

In fact, the results you get over those first weeks need to excite you to make sure you stay on the straight and narrow going forward and if you’re just starting out I’d recommend my 19-day bodyweight program, Lean In 19.

Once, you’ve finished that initial phase of all-out-war, then I’d look at implementing the above recommendations based on your goals. Of course, your goals will change from time to time and you’ll need to adapt your workouts and training plan, but to make this health and fitness thing stick long-term, try not to bite off more than you can chew and aim for those 3-4 workouts a week using whatever time frame works for you and your lifestyle.

If you’ve liked this article feel free to share the love and if you have any questions just pop them below…

Ta-ta for now,

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Gavin Walsh
Gavin Walsh

A British fitness and fat loss magician that helps men and women lose the jelly from their belly pronto. Gavin has been featured in the likes of Men's Health, Women's Health and Men's Fitness, as well appearing on British TV several times with delightful nuggets of fitness and fat loss wisdom.

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