Last Updated on January 7, 2019 by Michael Brockbank
One of the quickest ways to lose fat is to eat a proper diet and get plenty of cardio. But can walking and strength training help lose body fat? Depends on your workout routines and the intensity of your walks. The trick is to do activity that gets your heart rate up to the point of putting your body into “cardio mode.”
How to Lose Fat While Walking
I love my Fitbit. However, people put too much emphasis on the number of steps you need to get in a day. In reality, the number of steps don’t matter much. For instance, I’ll burn more calories and fat with an intense 10,000 step walk inside of an hour than I will if I do 10,000 steps throughout the whole day.
It’s not a matter of distance, but more of distance within a certain amount of time. Don’t get me wrong, the Fitbit is a great tool. However, it’s the effort you put into power walking that will help you lose fat.
Speed and Distance
The faster you walk, the more you burn. Let’s say you set aside 30 minutes a day to walk. If you maintain a casual two-mile-per-hour pace, you won’t work yourself up very much. However, pushing yourself to reach four miles per hour in the same amount of time easily burns more fat.
The same can be said about setting distance. You’ll keep your heart rate higher if you do your best to do a certain distance under a specific amount of time. How many skinny people do you know are proud of a 45-minute mile?
Bear in mind that you will eventually hit a walking speed that caps before it becomes a jog.
Setting Your Goals
When setting up goals, keep it realistic. I know a lot of people who focus on 10,000 steps per day. Don’t try to follow in some of the insane numbers other people produce. A lot of those individuals have plenty of time to go for a run and rack up the mileage quite quickly.
Track what you can do on an average day and try to beat it the next. If you don’t have a Fitbit, Apple Watch or other wearable device, you can always use Runkeeper. It’s a free app that tracks your movement whether you’re walking, running, swimming or even in a wheel chair. It’s all about moving and distance.
The only one you’re truly in competition with is yourself. Try to surpass your average ability and keep setting new records.
Pushing Yourself Too Hard
The spirit may be willing, but keep in mind the flesh might be weak. It’s one thing to have ambition, but it’s another if you push yourself too hard. If you go beyond your limits, you being to increase the chances of injury.
I learned a terrible lesson in 2015. At 270+ pounds, I tried to power-walk a 5K while wearing loafers. Between my weight and the shoes, I wound up creating metatarsal fractures throughout my feet.
How to Lose Fat with Strength Training
Strength training does have potential to help lose fat. It all depends on how you approach lifting weights. Remember, you want your body to be in “cardio mode.” Simply lifting 40-pound dumbbells a few times to feel the burn isn’t going to put you into the fat-loss sweet-spot.
When I’m at the gym or using my resistance cables at home, it’s all about working up a sweat. Higher reps, lower weights. This builds lean muscle without bulking up. However, it’s still adding strength to your body while burning fat.
The longer you can sustain an activity while lifting, the more fat you’ll lose. In a past case study of myself, I burnt more calories doing 20 minutes of lifting 20 pounds than I did in 10 minutes while lifting 40…even though the total weight was the same.
I’m not saying that you should keep the weights as light as possible. However, using somewhat lighter weights will help sustain the workout longer. Once you get used to a certain amount, increase it if you want to add bulk.
Targeting Specific Muscle Groups
When strength training to help lose fat, you also need to keep in mind to target certain areas of the body. How often have you seen incredibly strong fat guys because they focus more on biceps than stomach? In reality, anything cardio-related can be considered strength training as it’s developing density.
A good example of this is myself. Everything from my nipples up look amazing. That’s because I spend too much time on arm and chest work and not enough on my core. This is something I am remedying as time goes on. Planks, lying leg raises and air bicycles are a good place to start.
Setting Goals to Maximize Weight Loss and Strength
When I lift, I am focusing on sustained activity. I’ll hit a specific goal for reps and then increase the weight slightly. As I am trying to burn fat while adding strength, I don’t want to burn myself out too fast by doing something too heavy.
Sure, it takes longer to bulk up…but that’s not my goal. I’m happy to toss a 50-pound bag of dog food in the shopping cart with one hand without grunting. My purpose is to lose fat. I don’t want to look like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I would rather not look like “The Blob.”
What You Eat Matters
What you eat matters whether you’re walking or strength training. It doesn’t matter when you burn the calories and fats if you consume more than what you’re getting rid of. This is why I try to keep my calories in the green using MyFitnessPal.
You also want to keep in mind the carb and protein intake when strength training. Some diets will actually prevent you from maxing out your time in the gym. You need proteins, carbs and glucose to supply energy to muscles, which means you have to eat accordingly.
Personally, I go into hypoglycemic shock if I don’t have something to snack on in the middle of my workout routine.
Be mindful of your physiology and know what you need to eat to sustain yourself in a healthy manner.
Know Your Body
The bottom line is everyone has different physiology. What works for one person may not have the same effect on yourself. You need to experiment and find methods that work to lose fat. Just keep in mind that it takes time to discover what works. Don’t expect an overnight change. In some instances, it can take a couple of months before you can determine if something is working for you.