Starting a workout programme and getting results from exercise doesn’t need to be complicated.
I think many people get ‘paralysis from analysis’ when it comes to exercise. In this tutorial I’m going to show you everything you need to know to start exercising safely and effectively.
An Exercise Program for Fat Loss
There are many ways to exercise. You can of course run and cycle, play sports or join a dance class.
The program that I am proposing below is for fat loss and general conditioning. You will lose fat and increase the muscle tone over your complete body with this program. You will also increase your cardiovascular health so your ability to utilise oxygen efficiently will also improve. Basically you will feel less out of breath
This is not a body building program. If you want to develop huge arms or a bulging chest then this is not for you. However, if your overall goal is body building and you have not exercised consistently for a period of time then this is an excellent start.
Why this Workout is so Effective for Fat Loss
I have been using this method for fat loss with my clients for many years. It is highly effective. Here’s why:
Uses Over 600 muscles: all of these exercises in this program use large movements. The larger the movement the more muscles are activated and the more energy is required. What this ultimately means is that you get more done in less time. Unfortunately it also means that you will find the exercises more tiring than simple isolation exercises like a biceps curl or triceps extension.
Avoiding Repetition: its common for people to use repetitive movement for a fat loss program like running or cycling. The problem with this method is the body quickly adapts to the repetition and also over-use injuries can occur. With my program we keep the body guessing and don’t spend too long repeating one single movement. It’s also more fun because of this too
Balancing the Body: the body was originally designed to be balanced but with time postures change and things become misaligned. Many workout programs don’t focus on the balance of the body only what’s on show. This workout program ensures that no muscle remains untouched this means that we balance out your posture and also target muscle groups that often get missed out.
Increase Muscle Tone: muscle is very energy dependant. Basically the more muscle that is active in your body the more energy is required to feed the muscles. With this program we condition all your muscles in one go, this revs up your metabolism and helps you burn fat even when your not exercising.
Pumping the Body: when you perform exercise movements correctly then you actively pump nutrients around the body. Like a free flowing river stagnation never occurs. This program maximises the pumping systems of the body and ensures you pump toxins and poisons out of the body and avoid stagnation.
Overview of the Workout Program
The workout you will be performing will involve 6 exercises only, here are the little beauties:
- Pushing Exercise
- Pulling Exercise
- Core Exercise
Although the above exercises may change the fundamental movements will always remain the same.
You will perform a certain number of each exercise (from 8 – 20) before moving onto the next exercise. You will rest at the end of the circuit and try to move through the 6 exercises as quickly as possible.
A Precaution Before you Get Started
Although the following workout method is completely natural and men and women have been moving in this way for millions of years, everyone responds to exercise differently.
First please check with your local doctor or medical professional to confirm you are ready for exercise.
You should never experience any pain during any of these exercises. Fatigue is normal, as is a shortness of breath. Pain is NOT normal and you should stop immediately. If you are new to exercise then start slowly and build up gradually. Consistency is far better than short blasts. Work on developing an exercise habit and mastering the movements.
How Often Should you Workout
I get asked how often to exercise a lot. A really simple guide is Monday, Wednesday and Friday with the weekends off.
However, some people can exercise more and some people less. For example if you have a very physical job then you should probably exercise less. If you are young then you can usually exercise more.
Start with my guideline of 3 times per week and see how you get on. Remember that more isn’t always better. Muscle tissue gets broken down during exercise so it needs time to repair and grow again.
If you are finding that you are not improving during every workout then take another days rest.
Also nutrition and stress levels play a role too. If your diet is bad then you will not recover from exercise as quickly as someone with an all natural diet. Plus, if you are stressed from work pressures then you may be physically drained too! Exercise is a stress too so be careful.
What You Will Need to Exercise
In a word, nothing!
Simply using your bodyweight will be enough to get you results. The better you become at the exercises and workout the more advanced the exercise will become but this still doesn’t mean you need equipment.
The beauty of this type of workout is that you can do it anywhere. You have no excuses
For the more advanced you can start to add minimal pieces of equipment like dumbbells or a medicine ball but the exercise movements will remain the same. So it remains simple to follow. And you never need to visit a gym again if you don’t want to.
For the actual workout loose clothing is a must. You can wear a pair of comfy sports shoes but I prefer to exercise in bare feet, it feels more natural and you can get better reactions from the ground.
OK, Lets Start the Workout
Before you begin the workout you will need to run through a warm up. You should never stretch before an exercise program because it will effect the length / tension relationship of the muscles your are about to start using. Stretching muscles before a workout is a quick way to deactivate muscles and confuse the body. Stretching comes later.
The Mobility Warm Up
In order to prepare the body for exercise you should run through a mobility routine. Improving mobility is great way to stay young. The more time you spend without movement before your workout the longer you should spend mobilising each joint. So if you are exercising first thing in the morning make sure you spend a little extra time warming up.
Here’s a simple routine for your warm up:
Neck: chin left and right, chin forwards and backwards, head side to side
Shoulders: swing the arms in big circles forwards and backwards
Upper back: rotate from the upper back left and right, let the arms swing as you turn
Hips: hands on hips and roll the hips in big circles, clockwise and anticlockwise
Ankles: Roll the ankles clockwise and anticlockwise
There are hundreds of mobility warm up exercises but concentrating on the above joints from top to bottom will give you a systematic way to warm up each area. If a joint feels restricted or immobile then spend extra time on that area.
Never move into pain. You should NOT feel pain during your mobility warm up, if you do stop immediately and get it checked out.
Here are the 6 exercises that you will be performing in the workout. Follow the guidelines for each exercise. Remember that you will be completing each exercise one after the other in a circuit format.
Exercise #1 – The Lunge
The lunge is a hugely powerful exercise that will challenge your balance as well as your core strength. The Lunge targets most muscles in the body but you will especially feel it in the Buttocks and Thighs.
There are many ways to perform the lunge, here are just a few options:
- Static Lunge
- Reverse Lunge
- Forward Lunge
- Side Lunge
- Diagonal Lunge
- Double Lunge
- Bulgarian Lunge
- Jumping Lunge
How Many Lunges is best?
The lunge exercise is better performed at higher repetitions, so try to achieve 12 repetitions on each leg before moving on to a more advanced Lunge variation. You also have the option to perform all your lunges on one side before changing to the other side, or alternating between one side and the other between every repetition.
Beginners should start by perform all one side first and then all the other side before moving on to alternating lunges.
Here’s a Video demonstrating How to Perform the Forward Lunge:
Exercise #2 – Pushing Exercise
There are 2 types of Pushing Exercises. You can either push something overhead or push something out in front of you. Both types of exercises use your shoulders, backs of arms, chest and core muscles.
Here are the various Pushing exercises you can try:
- Wall Push Ups
- Kneeling Push Ups
- Full Push Ups
- Overhead Pressing with Dumbbells etc.
- Dive Bomber Push Ups
- T – Push Ups
Start Easy with Push Ups
Unless you are lying down on a bench all pressing exercises require a large degree of core activation. As you are taking the press up position the core should be tight and engaged this prevents the hips from sagging and provides a strong connection between the lower half of the body and the upper half.
Many people progress too quickly. They have a disconnection between the upper and lower body. Start slowly and try to remain in a straight line from shoulders to heels.
Your goal should be 20 quality repetitions before you move onto a more difficult variation.
Here’s a Video Demonstrating How to Perform the Dive Bomber Push Up:
Exercise #3 – The Deadlift
The Deadlift exercise is another full body movement. It works all the muscles of the body but in particular the ones at the back, namely the buttocks, hamstrings, core, lower and upper back. The Deadlift exercise involves bending and folding at the hips and NOT the lower back.
Here are a few Deadlift Variations:
- Hip Bridge
- One Leg Forward Reach
- Single Leg Deadlift
- Single Leg Jumping Deadlift
How Many Deadlifts to Perform?
The Deadlift is very demanding and requires a lot of neurological input. Unlike many of the other exercises you should keep the repetitions reasonably low for the deadlift exercise.
The Hip Bridge is one exception where you can work up to 20 reps but I would recommend no more than 10 reps for the others.
Here’s a Video of the Single Leg Deadlift (you don’t need to use dumbbells just touch the floor)
Exercise #4 – The Pulling Exercise
Pulling and back extension based exercise are highly underused and essential for your posture. These types of exercises also work hard to counteract all that back pain you may experience from prolonged periods of sitting. There is also a lot of muscle at the back of the body so they are great for increasing your metabolism.
Pulling exercises, like the pushing exercises, can be divided into 2 groups, pulling towards you horizontally and pulling towards you vertically.
Here are a few exercises you can try:
- Sky Divers
- Bird Dogs
- Inverted Bodyweight Rows
- Bent over Rows
- Renegade Rows
- Pull Ups or Chin Ups
Where to Start with Pulling Exercises
Always perfect the beginners exercises above before moving onto more advanced exercises. The core muscles don’t just exist at the front of the body they come all the way around to the back too. Working on Sky Divers and Bird Dogs will ensure you have a solid base that you can work off when you proceed to Rows.
20 repetitions of Sky Divers, Swimmers or Bird Dogs (on each side) should be your goal. But as with all the other exercises start off slow and build up. You will find that the more advanced the Pulling exercise the more core engagement is required. So don’t jump the gun!
Here’s a Video showing you How to Perform the Bird Dog
Exercise #5 – The Squat
I’m sure you have heard of the squat. You squat every time you sit on a chair or onto the toilet. Squats work most muscles of the body and heavily pump the system. You can expect to feel the squat mostly in your Buttocks and Thighs.
Many people struggle with the squat for one of 2 reasons:
- They lack mobility in their hips
- They lack core control to prevent them from folding forwards
Practice usually solves both of these issues. I’m not a believer in elevating the heels even if this does improve the squat. Many believe that heel elevation helps with ankle flexion issues but in my experience ankle mobility is very rarely the issue. You can assess your ankle mobility by sitting down on a chair in the squat position and noting that usually the ankles mobility is fine.
What actually happens when you elevate the heels is you shift the centre of gravity enabling easier core activation.
Here are a few Squats Variations to try:
- Squat to Chair
- Squat Holding Stick
- Squat with Stability Ball Against a Wall
- Y Squat
- Prisoner Squat
- Yoga Squat
- Jump Squats
- One Leg Pistol Squats
Foot Position for Squats
How you position your feet during your squat will have a big impact. For example wider feet will enable you to push your hips back better and generally squat to a deeper level.
The feet should naturally turn out and the knees should track along the feet to prevent excessive torque at the knee joint.
You must ensure that your thighs get down to parallel with the floor. If your thighs don’t break parallel then you won’t engage your Buttocks, the largest muscles in your body. Shallow squats will result in big thighs and flat buttocks. Sound familiar?
How Many Squats?
Squats are one of those exercises that work well with a high number of repetitions. 20 reps is a good target but 50 can be a nice challenge for you one day too!
As with all these exercises start at the beginners level and work up to the advanced. Get the technique right first. Get down deep enough and don’t rush through your squats.
Here’s a Video of my Favourite Yoga Squats:
Exercise #6 – Core Exercises
Final exercise and I save the core exercise until last, so you haven’t worn out your core muscles before you have started. Core training has had a lot of press but the principles are very simple. A strong core means you have a strong base for your limbs to move from.
If your core is weak you will injure your back more often and you will lack power every time you need to connect the lower half of your body with the top half. Every time you walk you need to do this
I’m not going to go deep into Core training here because it demands an article of its own but here is a list of progressions for you to try:
- Front Plank
- Side Plank
- Shoulder Taps
- Slow Mountain Climbers
- Cross Body Mountain Climbers
- Dead Bugs
- Dirty Dogs
- Wood Chops
- Roll Outs
What no Sit Ups or Crunches?
Flexion type exercises like Crunches are ruining the backs and posture of people worldwide. In a world where we sit crunched over already, who ever thought that doing more is a good idea? I’m not going to get on my ‘high horse’ about this one but we need a lot more anti-crunch based exercises today to straighten out our postures once and for all.
How Much Core is Enough?
By this point in the workout your core will already be tired so you only need a little just to finish the circuit. For the plank and beginner based exercises try to work up to 45 seconds, that’s per side for the side plank. Once you reach the intermediate level then 20 reps will be sufficient .
For most of the core exercises you will be trying to keep your core tight and contracted while either gravity or your limbs work against you.
If you feel aching in your lower back then either raise your hips or your core has given up and it’s time to stop. Again progress slowly and precisely with each exercise.
Here’s a Video showing the Dead Bug:
Putting All the Exercises Together
So now you understand the types of exercises that you need to perform there is only one thing left to do. Complete the circuit. Here’s how it works:
- Complete your Mobility Warm Up (5-10 minutes)
- Perform Exercise 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in a row with minimal rest between exercises
- Rest for 1-2 minutes (the less rest the better)
- Complete another 2 more circuits if you can
Aim to perform 8-20 repetitions of each exercise except for the deadlifts (only perform 10 max). If you find the exercise too difficult then select an easier one. If you find the exercise too easy at 20 reps then choose a more difficult one.
How Should the Workout Feel?
It is very important that you push yourself through the workout. At first you will need to take your time and get used to the exercises but after that it’s time to go for it.
You should feel a shortness of breath as you move from one exercise to the next with little rest. You may also experience a heaviness in your muscles. With time you will get used to all these feelings and be able to push yourself more each time.
One tip is to time your circuit. Try to beat your time each round but never sacrifice good technique for speed.
Remember that change comes from pushing your body to a place where it needs to adapt for next time. Your body will improve to make the workout easier so you need to keep pushing.
No Need to Stretch Afterwards
If you feel the need to stretch afterwards then that is fine but there is no scientific proof that stretching will prevent muscle soreness, prevent injury or speed up the healing process. In fact after a workout your nervous system is too excited to benefit from any stretching.
My advice is to stretch in the evening before bed. You are more susceptible to change at this time. The more frequently you stretch the better. Sitting for 8 hours a day takes a lot of correction.
Enjoy the Workout
There we go my Step by Step guide to Exercising for Fat Loss.
Exercise only really works if it’s consistent so go for little and often. Build up a habit of exercise. Progress slowly and work on getting great at all the movements. Learning to move and exercise in this way will be the best investment of time in yourself that you will every make.
Take care and enjoy!
Are you ready to start this workout program? Let me know more below…