Ready to Shed the Extra Holiday Poundage? Great – What’s Your Plan?
I’ve been working out at a local YMCA for years. Lately, though, there has been a new addition of well-toned “boot campers” who jump, lunge, and squat around the gym with impressive force. At the helm of the crew is Head Trainer Brandon Walters who has garnered quite a regional following based on the fact that graduates of his boot camps are seeing real results. I sat down with Brandon recently to talk about what it takes to shed holiday pounds, how much exercise is “enough” to see results, and why the treadmill may not be as effective as you think.
1.) So many people make weight loss / fitness a New Year’s resolution and fall off the wagon. What are they not getting that’s key to success?
The main thing is they’re not starting with a plan. I see people all the time who come into the gym, look around, and do whatever they feel like or what’s in a magazine. They should come in with a plan, goals, and knowing what they want to achieve that day. Also, people fall off the wagon because they are program jumpers, inconsistently hoping from one program another. If you’re just starting out, you should stick to a program for 5-6 weeks and then rotate every four weeks after that. If you find you’re having trouble staying motivated, find a class, bootcamp, or workout buddy. Having that positive support and accountability can make all the difference.
2.) How often do you recommend your clients work out each week – and for how long?
You can change your body with just 15 or 20 minutes of exercise per day. I think people get stuck in the mindset of thinking they have to train for at least an hour a day or it’s not going to work – but that’s not true. Precision Nutrition featured a case study recently with a woman who was looking for an exercise program to fit her busy schedule. They conducted an experiment where she worked out for about 20 minutes total. She did a 10 minute strength circuit and then hit the treadmill for a six minute circuit. She repeated that series 2-3 times per week – in addition to changing her diet – and had great results.
3.) How do you keep your clients motivated during workouts when you know they really want to give up?
Most of my clients are pretty motivated already but one huge motivating factor is the fact that we keep records. Personally, I keep records all the time because I’m trying to beat myself all the time. It’s not just about weight loss, it’s about trying to accomplish something new each week – so maybe it’s reps one week or form the next. At first people come to me and they’re so focused on aesthetics – scale numbers and how they look – but over time they start to realize, “Hey, my back doesn’t hurt anymore” or “My knees aren’t killing me anymore.” Those exterior variables are what get most people through the door, but the real change happens when they are no longer pre-diabetic, have better blood values, greater energy, can squat their bodyweight and then some, do push-ups and pull-ups, sleep better, and so on.
4.) If you’re trying to lose weight, I’ve always heard cardio is better than weight training. True?
When it comes to weight loss, endurance training – treadmills, bikes, elliptical, etc. – is the LEAST effective ways to do it. If you’re coming to the gym and you only have 45 minutes, rather than getting on the treadmill you should be doing some sort of compound strength training for maximum muscle use. Lunging, bending, squatting, pushing, pulling weights – that sort of thing. I really believe strength training is the key to youth. If you do not challenge your muscles you will lose them and losing muscle mass is the quickest way to losing your physical independence. If you’re a female especially, this is a message that needs to hit home. Women still think that if you lift a weight heavier than 15 pounds it’s somehow going to make you huge. Not true – plus the average female will lose five pounds of lean muscle mass per decade after the age of 25 unless they do some sort of strength training. Also, strength training is key to getting what we call “the afterburn effect” or the elevation in metabolism that occurs after a strenuous strength training workout or interval training session. Everyone is focused on what’s going on during the workout, but you’re not losing fat, and gaining muscle during the workout – it’s what happens afterwards. Proper recovery nutrition – simple carbs and protein (Brandon recommends a protein drink called Surge Recovery) – within 30 to 45 minutes after your workout is really important. Also, the more you train the more you need recovery sleep, massage therapy, self massage, and stretching. If you’re not getting good recovery, it’s like you’re wasting a workout.
5.) So which is more important to weight loss – exercise or nutrition?
Diet first – always! The most important article ever written on the subject of fat loss says you can’t out-train a bad diet. Even if you don’t deep-dive into the science behind losing weight, I think everyone can understand lesson number one – “fix your nutrition.” Lesson number two is, “see lesson number one.”