I can’t help but think that most people only associate exercise with weight loss or burning calories. They think that the only reason or the main reason to exercise is to simply expend energy so that they can lose weight.
It’s why the cardio machines in the gym are so busy on a Monday night, everyone is trying to exercise their way to weight loss or un-do the weekend. I recently completed a photoshoot which consisted of 16 weeks of preparation which resulted in me getting into what I can only describe as, the shape of my life.
I was the leanest I had ever been which meant I had lost a serious amount of weight, I had expended a hell of a lot of calories which resulted in the physique you can see on the photos on this blog. Many people would believe that this could only be achieved by completing excessive amounts of boring cardio to ensure that I was burning enough calories.
I’m writing this blog to tell you something that will probably surprise you.
Throughout my entire preparation I didn’t complete one single minute of conventional cardio.
Yes you read that correctly, I got in the shape of my life without completing any cardio. This will shock a lot of people but that’s the exact reason as to why I want to share this message with you.
The most important thing that you must do to lose weight is to manage your calorie intake. In order to lose weight you must be expending more energy than you are taking in. Although this sounds incredibly simple in theory, it does take a lot of dedication and consistency to find out what works for you.
Nobody can give you a number of calories you should be eating and know that this will result in what you want, it’s all about taking an educated guess based on your weight, activity levels, body shape and much more. Once you have this you have your starting point but you will only know if this works by sticking to those exact calories for a period of time. This is exactly what I did in my preparation, I ate the same thing, in the same volumes for a period of time (I’m not saying you need to eat the same thing FYI). This provided information alongside my weekly weigh ins which allowed my coach to tweak where necessary.
The key to success with weight loss is not cardio or exercise, those things can contribute but they do exactly that. The way you get into the realms of serious progress is by getting a serious handle on your diet. That’s where to begin. From there you should be aiming for your training to complement this in terms of expending energy but the main purpose of it is to build and or retain muscle mass in order to create the shape you want.
We eat and move for fat loss and we train for performance and physique. Going back to how I managed to achieve all of this without cardio then… I managed to find the sweet spot of my calorie deficit by managing my step count and training alongside my diet. I managed to find the point at which I was still losing weight with the activity I was doing. The only change to my activity outside of the gym came 6 weeks out from the shoot in which I began to walk for 30 minutes every morning and this was to simply increase my energy expenditure, but being told to walk more dog more often didn’t really come as a chore and as it turned out I thoroughly enjoyed my 04:30am walks ahead of my morning PT sessions.
I’m not saying it’s easy to get into this level of physique because it’s not, it takes dedication, resilience, commitment, discipline and everything you would expect it to take but what it didn’t require was endless amounts of cardio. There was no running, no cycling, no stepper or stepmill – none of that. I simply adhered to my nutrition target 100% of the time.
I was even allowed to enjoy a takeaway every single Saturday until just 3 weeks out from the shoot. I’m telling you this because weight loss can be achieved by simply adhering to the basics with relentless consistency and not only weight loss but incredible physique achievements too. Of course the physique changes come from a very structured weight training programme which consists of hard work and lots of progressive overload (where it gets harder over time).
I’m here to tell you that contrary to what people tell you, the answer to weight loss is not cardio alone. Cardio can be used as a tool and had I hit a wall and a plateau with my weight loss, cardio would have been used however because we managed to strike the right balance with my nutrition so cardio wasn’t required.
I repeat, not one minute of cardio was completed in the 16 weeks I prepared for the shoot.
Where people go wrong is that they aim to exercise their way out of their bad habits and not only does this not work but it also develops a poor relationship with exercise, the enjoyment gets sucked out, the results don’t come, they quit and the cycle goes on and on. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can achieve amazing things by hiring a coach, being honest about your nutrition, then being adherent to the plan with both food and training.
I’m again not saying it’s easy, it’s tough to be so meticulous with nutrition and the workouts are tough, they are way tougher than most people in the gym train but if you don’t enjoy cardio or if you have hit a wall with your results I’m here to tell you that cardio isn’t the first place as a coach I would look. It’s probably not in the top 3 places I would look.
Nutrition is priority number one, followed by overall activity which includes steps and general movement and activity day to day. I would then consider the intensity of someone’s weight training before considering adding cardio to the mix. Cardio is great for building overall fitness levels, improving heart health and reducing risk of potentially fatal diseases, it can also improve your mood and much more. It should be thought of as all of those things ahead of simply something that expends calories because that is a very boring, uninspiring, unmotivated way of viewing exercise.
Exercise can provide you with so much but if you only base it around burning calories you are going to be disappointed. I’m not saying you won’t have to do cardio to lose weight, most people do need to because their activity is so low but what I am saying is that you should find a greater reason to exercise or as I prefer to call it – to train that simply to burn calories. It can give you so much more and as you can see from the pictures if you can manage your diet, activity and a bespoke weight training programme effectively then you can go a long way without having to walk backwards on the stepmill or do endless amounts on the elliptical.
There is more to exercise that calorie burning and you can achieve more by focusing on what really matters.
I hope this blog has not only informed you but inspired you too. I hope it’s provided you with the fuel that you needed to make a change in your life. Maybe you are now thinking about changing the way you approach exercise and your weight loss.
If you are and you need help, you can reach out to me with any questions you may have, also if you would like to work with me privately because you’ve decided now is the time you want to take it seriously, you can click the button below to complete your enquiry onto my online transformation programme that guarantees results…
You can follow me @thedotheworkcoach on socials or reach out via email – firstname.lastname@example.org