Tag Archives: weight loss

Strength training for weight loss

Although more often considered a training to
Strength training for weight lossincrease the size and strength of your muscles, strength training for weight loss is an often overlooked form of training when it comes to losing weight and burning fat. There are however several important reasons why strength training is very important for weight loss.

Strength training costs a lot of energy

Strength training requires moving of heavy weights and therefore requires quite a bit of energy, which is the prime requisite of weight loss. The energy needed to activate the muscles and move the weights is generated by the anaerobic system. This metabolic system delivers energy very quickly, however it produces many byproducts that need to be cleaned up which costs energy as well. Lower intensity cardio exercise, relies more on aerobic systems which are far more efficient and even clean up these ‘waste’ products. In other words high intensity strength training requires the body to spend energy recovering, while lower intensity exercise requires constant work for it to be effective.

Strength training increases metabolism

Strength training, when done right, damages muscle fibers slightly which need repair afterwards. In addition, adaptations to the muscle are necessary after training such as increasing strength. Recovering from training and adapting to it cost energy and therefore raise metabolism above resting levels for up to a few days. Moreover, since muscle tissue needs a constant supply of energy, even when it is inactive, increasing muscle mass helps burn more energy everyday and therefore is a great help while losing weight.

Strength training stimulates fat metabolism

Not only does strength training increase metabolism, after training it will stimulate the body to generate energy by burning fat in favor of carbohydrates. As said above, the high intensity of strength training requires the anaerobic systems to generate a lot of energy using several sources among which carbohydrates. By doing this, in essence the body receives a signal that sometimes large amounts of carbohydrates are necessary for a short period. This signal will cause the muscle to save the carbohydrates for when they are necessary for high intensity work and ‘choose’ to burn fat instead.

Strength training prevents weight regain after weight loss

Although weight loss can be realized in multiple ways, adding strength training prevents the loss of muscle mass that often causes the weight loss during dieting. Since muscle tissue needs constant energy, maintaining or even increasing the amount of muscle mass you have will help keep the lost weight of and prevent the yo-yo effect.

Strength training makes the body look athletic

Most people want to lose weight to improve their appearance and looks. Strength training helps shape the regions of the body that become visible when you lose weight. Losing weight by dieting and losing muscle mass will only reveal loose skin, veins and bone underneath. Training the muscles and stimulating them to at least maintain their size, will reveal healthy muscles and yield a healthy and athletic look desired by many.

Training tips

As you can see, strength training is vital in a healthy weight loss program that yields long lasting results. To maximize the effectiveness of your training keep in mind the following:

-Train all muscle groups during each session

-Perform two to three sets per exercise of 8-12 repetitions each at maximum weight

-Don’t rest too long between series (30-60 seconds)

See also:

-Weight Loss: What Works and What Doesn’t?

-Strength Training makes women large and bulky

Benefits of Cardio Training

Cardio training or endurance exercise or aerobic exercise,running is a well known form of fitness training. Cardio training is characterized by movement by large muscle groups for prolonged periods of time resulting in an elevated heart rate and breathing frequency. Examples of aerobic exercise are jogging, cycling, or use of a stationary cardiofitness machine, such as a crosstrainer or stairmaster.

Weight loss: what works and what doesn’t?

Every year, losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolutionWeight loss. And just before the summer, a lot of people try and lose weight or get in shape to look their best at the beach. A lot of different methods are used to achieve this. From diets, training regimens, fat burners, sauna belts and power plates. To help people lose the pounds, we present a list with the most effective and ineffective or even unhealthy methods to lose weight and fat.

The things that work:

  1. Healthy Nutrition

Many people think that they eat healthy, only a few really do. The body needs the right amount of nutrients to function properly and sufficient calories of course. The fact remains that, in order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in, but it is more important to get the right amount of vitamins, minerals and proteins. This makes sure your body functions optimally and can therefore burn more fat. In addition you tend to lose less to no muscle mass while eating a healthy amount of protein.

  1. A combination of resistance and cardiotraining.

Wheight loss occurs when more energy is used up than taken in. Training increases the amount of calories used, but we also optimise energy systems in our body, and therefore the capacity to burn fat. This last effect even helps us lose weight, while not working out. Additionally, resistance training makes sure no muscle mass is lost during weight loss, therefore preventing the well known yoyo effect.

  1. Exercising regularly and often

Aside from training, regular physical activity such as walking or riding a bicycle, is very important. This will activate the body, increase the amount of calories used and therefore help in losing weight. It will help the body in recovering from a training and reduce stress hormone levels as an added bonus.

  1. Rest and sleep

Although everyone focusses on nutrition and training while losing weight. Resting and especially enough sleep are very important for health and weight loss. When you don’t sleep enough, the body can’t recuperate enough, stress hormone levels will rise and you will lose muscle tissue sooner.

What doesn’t work or is bad for your health?

  1. Diets

Diets are at best a temporary solution to lose weight. When you stop with the diet and eat what you are used to eating, the lost weight comes back often accompanied by a few extra pounds. The worst diets make you lose muscle mass as well, increasing the chances of the yoyo effect.

  1. Long cardio workouts

Although it is not difficult to lose weight by performing a lot of cardio training and endurance improves as well, too much cardio training can increase muscle breakdown. One of the primary reasons is that stress hormones keep building up. A combination with some form of diet often increases this effect. Furthermore cardio training hinders recovery from training for as long as the training takes. It is better to perform high intensity cardio training for shorter periods. This is more effective and the time you save can be spent on recovery.

  1. Fat burners

There are some fat burning substances that are proven to be effective and safe. However the effects are generally small, and could be used in combination with healthy nutrition and training. Green tea extract is a good and safe example. The fat burners that are effective on their own, are potentially dangerous and illegal in most countries. Among these is Ephedra.

  1. Sauna belt

There are several weight loss programs which incorporate a heated belt tied around the waist during training. The heat from the belt, softens up the fat so the body can burn it more easily, or so they claim. No research can back these claims up however. The body determines the location of fat loss, not your clothing. At best the heat from the belt decreases the amount of water around that location for a short time. When someone loses weight using this method, it can be attributed to the training performed while wearing the belt, not the belt itself.

  1. Power Plates

A lot of research has been performed investigating the effects of the power plate in rehabilitation and weight loss. For weight loss, it is just as effective as the sauna belt. It does not add anything. In other words, how much weight and fat you lose depends on how you train with it. On the other hand, if you enjoy training on it, it can’t harm either.


Unfortunately there are no miracle cures. When you want to lose weight you have to work for it. The most effective method is to perform both resistance and cardiovascular exercise, and combine this with healthy nutrition. In addition make sure you walk or cycle regularly an sleep sufficiently.

What is Kettlebell training and what does it do?

What is Kettlebell training and what does it do?

Kettlebells are weights that look like a cannonball with a handle. KettlebellsBecause the center of gravity lies away from the handle, kettlebells are very suitable for performing explosive movements. Kettlebell training is therefore often employed to let athletes perform better, because it not only trains maximal strength, but it increases the rate of force generation and how to make use of the increased force effectively as well.

Although kettlebells can be used for exercises that normally employ dumbbells, the main advantage of kettlebell training are exercises with which a large number of muscle groups are activated at the same time. This improves coordination between these muscle groups, among which the core muscles, strengthening the weakest link, which results in increased muscle strength. Another large advantage of exercises which activate a large number of muscle groups is that the energy consumption during and after training strongly increases, which increases fat oxidation and hence, makes losing weight easier.

Kettlebell training has many advantages and can be a very effective alternative workout for people who have been training with dumbbells for a long time, or those that want a high intensity workout to improve (functional) strength. However, because of the high velocity of the movements and large forces that accompany them, this form of resistance training is not suitable for people suffering from injuries, such as low back pain.


Fact or Fable: Fat Metabolism starts after 20 minutes of exercise

To improve body composition and weight loss it is often recommended by fitness experts to perform cardio training for a duration of 30 minutes or more. It is said that fat metabolism starts after 20 minutes of continuous training. After 20 minutes glycogen stores should be depleted and the body is forced to burn fat instead. Is this true or not and is this the most effective way of losing weight and improving body composition?

Firstly a large body of research has shown that exercising for longer durations is not necessarily more effective than short high intensity workouts in improving body composition. Moreover, the latest research has shown that low volume high intensity interval workouts are far more effective in stimulating fat loss than high volume moderate intensity exercise.

Secondly, the body will always try to burn fat and save the limited carbohydrate store for when it is necessary to work at higher intensities. The body of an average human only has enough carbohydrates to exercise at higher intensities for 20-30 minutes, which explains the source of this fable, but these stores can be increased by proper exercise as well.

It is true that when exercise intensity increases, the anaerobic energy systems are the first to supply the necessary extra energy and it takes a while before the aerobic systems, among which fat oxidation, have increased activity enough to supply the required energy. However, this process only takes a few minutes depending on training status. This means that if exercise intensity allows it, someone exercising for 20 minutes will be burning fat for at least 17 minutes.

Fat does not burn as easily as carbohydrates and therefore energy for performing higher intensity exercise will be provided by carbohydrates. However, when the body exercises regularly at these higher intensities, which do not allow fat metabolism or limits it, the body gets a signal to improve the efficiency and capacity of fat metabolism so it can sustain higher exercise intensities while using primarily fat.

In conclusion, fat metabolism is one of the most important energy systems in the human body. The body always strives to burn fat to produce ATP if possible or will adapt to allow for more efficient fat metabolism, making it easier to lose weight and improve body composition. However training duration does not have to be longer than 20-30 minutes to use fat or to be effective in weight loss if exercise intensity is high enough.

Cardiotraining: Are you training hard enough?

Cardiotraining training is an essential part of a healthy and effective training program and can be used to achieve multiple goals. When performed correctly it strengthens the heart, increases quality of blood vessels and lungs. Therefore it is very useful for people suffering cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus (especially type 2) and COPD, but it is most often used to increase endurance or to lose weight.

The important question is however, how do I know if my cardiovascular workout is performed at the right intensity? An often heard and persistent fairy tale is that for losing fat, low intensity training is the most effective. This is not right however, and many studies show that higher intensity workouts result in larger amounts of fat loss and larger increases in endurance and oxygen uptake.

To determine the right intensity, it is possible to use a heart rate monitor and calculate the right heart frequency, but this requires a good quality heart rate monitor. Another simple way is to check if talking during training is still possible. When someone can continue conversation, the body apparently has enough oxygen to allow disruption of air flow for talking and no real training occurs. When only a few words can be spoken at a time during training, while breathing heavily, training is far more effective. The reason for this is that the body needs almost all oxygen to go to the muscles to maintain exercise.

When no more air is available to speak, the aerobic system is completely active and the anaerobic system has to deliver the energy that the aerobic system is not able to generate. As the body strives for balance and anaerobic metabolism disrupts this balance by for example an decrease in pH, it will improve aerobic function so it is better able to meet training demands. This will increase the intensity at which someone gets trouble speaking and it will stimulate resting metabolic rate and fat metabolism, making weight loss easier. When one is not able to speak during training, training intensity is high enough to receive the benefits of cardiovascular training, which do not occur at lower intensity.


Training against obesity

Obesity is a serious form Fitness against obesityof being overweight and is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30. Trying to lose weight while being obese does not necessarily mean a different approach than being overweight, but there are some key points to keep in mind during when training against obesity. Many people who have become obese by not exercising enough and an unhealthy diet, have an altered metabolism This makes it harder to use fat to produce energy and therefore makes it more difficult to lose that fat. In other words, when someone gains weight, it gets progressively harder to lose it again in a healthy way, because the body has increasing difficulty to burn the excess fat and is only able to burn carbohydrates for energy. 

Spot reduction during weight loss

Many people want to lose weight and fat, preferably at the problem zones like the abdomen or hips. To achieve fat loss on the abdomen, many people perform abdominal exercises or they use special machines which claim to stimulate local fat loss such as the Better Belly®, Slim Belly® or similar devices. It seems logical that the muscles which are active during an exercise burn fat that is closest to the muscle. However, unfortunately spot reduction is not possible and here is why:

There are several reasons why you can’t choose the location where fat is removed. Firstly, when performed right, the intensity of resistance exercise is too high to burn fat. Even when the intensity is low enough to burn fat, it will not disappear on the locations nearest to the active muscle, but the fat will come from free fatty acids in the blood.

These fatty acids are released by fat stores throughout the body, and the body determines which fat stores release the required fatty acids. This is influenced by body build, sex and therefore genetics, but can’t be influenced by exercises targeting specific locations or devices that claim to mobilize fat at a certain location. There is no scientific evidence supporting the workings of such machines nor is there any theoretical mechanism which could support this theory.

There is however some evidence that resistance exercise influences hormone levels which regulate where fat is stored, and when resistance exercise is performed right, fat mass is reduced to a larger extent on the abdomen. To achieve this, all muscles should be trained at a high intensity. The only other way to achieve local fat loss is that really works is a visit to your local plastic surgeon.*

* Note: This is an ironic statement, plastic surgery is not a field of specialty of Fitness Science and we don’t recommend it specifically to achieve local fat loss.


-Heyward, V.H. (2010). Designing Weight Management and Body Composition Programs. Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription Sixth Edition. USA. Human Kinetics.

-Spriet, L.L. The Metabolic Systems: Lipid Metabolism. In: ACSM’s Advandec Exercise Physiology. Lippincot Williams & Wilkins USA.

Waist Circumference

Waist circumference is a measurement that gives an indication of fat related health risk. Although your body composition is an important indication as well. Not everyone has access to a reliable device to measure body composition such as an MRI-scan or DEXA scan or to someone skilled with a skin fold caliper. To measure waist circumference only a flexible measurement tape is needed so it is accessible to practically everyone and not complicated. In addition, body fat is not distributed in the same way for everyone. Two persons with the same relative amount of body fat can store their fat on different locations such as hips or inside the abdomen. Since internal abdominal fat (see also visceral fat) greatly increases risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus type 2 and more visceral fat corresponds with an increased waistline, this measurement can help indicate whether or not you are at increased risk for developing these disorders.

How to measure waist circumference

Take a flexible measurement tape and put it around your waist. The tape measure should be held above the navel but below the lowest ribs at the narrowest point of the torso. Make sure the tape measure is completely horizontal and that the one who is measured stands upright and relaxed and before measurement breathes out normally. Compare the value with those in Table 1 below to get an indication of developing cardiovascular disease or other fat related conditions.

Waist circumference norms (in centimetres and inches)
Men Women Risk category
Less than 94cm (37 inch) Less than 80cm (inch) Low
94-102cm (37-40 inch) 80-88cm ( inch) High
Greater than 102cm (40 inch) Greater than 88cm ( inch) Very high

Table 1: Waist circumference norms

Note: these norms apply to Caucasian adults and Asian women. Currently not enough data on other ethnic groups is available.

Risk category:

Low: You are not at increased risk of developing lifestyle related diseases such as cardiovascular disease. You can maintain your current lifestyle, although it does not hurt to improve it further.

High: You are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease or other lifestyle related diseases. Either improving your diet, decreasing your energy intake or starting strength and endurance training will help losing weight and abdominal fat.

Very high: You are at very high risk of developing lifestyle related diseases. Large changes in lifestyle in multiple areas are necessary to improve your health. Improve your diet, decrease your energy intake, start training to increase muscle mass and improve cardiovascular endurance and exercise more every day.


-Bushman, B. (2011). Assesing Personal Fitness. Complete Guide to Fitness & Health. First Edition. USA Human Kinetics.

-Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. 2007.

Visceral Fat

Visceral fat is fat that is located around the organs in the abdominal cavity, including around the stomach, intestines, liver and kidneys. It is different in structure than subcutaneous adipose tissue and intramuscular fat and also producessubstances that play an important role in the immune system.

However, an excess of visceral fat also leads to an over-production of these chemicals, and is associated with a greater risk of developing coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and inflammation-related disorders. A too large amount of visceral fat, is also known as abdominal obesity.

While an excessive amount of visceral fat is common in people that are overweight or obese certainly, it is also possible that people with an apparently healthy BMI have too much visceral fat. As a result these people can have a increased risk on developing the diseases mentioned above.

The amount of visceral fat can be reduced by a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet and regular, sufficient physical activity and exercise and sufficient sleep. In addition, it has been shown that different types of training not only help reduce the amount of visceral fat but also counteracts the negative effects of too much visceral fat.

Resting Metabolism

The human body’s metabolism provides the necessary energy for exercise and movement. In addition the body needs energy in rest as well, which is known as resting metabolism. The reason for this is that the body is constantly at work to maintain a balanced state in its internal environment. A proces also known as homeostasis.

Properties such as body temperature, pH, lactate concentration or blood glucose must be closely regulated for the body to function properly. When these are not maintained within normal parameters, the body will not function well or it may even be fatal. These processes all need to be constantly provided with energy even when the body is at rest, which is known as the resting metabolism. The energy in the form of ATP is generated from nutrients containing fat carbohydrates and protein using the anaerobic and aerobic systems.

In an average human, the resting metabolism is responsible for up to 75% of total daily energy expenditure, whereas physical activity and training are responsible for the other 25%. When training at high intensity, the body needs to work harder to return to a balanced state, which can increase resting metabolism beyond normal values. Resting metabolism can be increased as well by increasing muscle mass, since muscles need a constant supply of energy as well. Many training programs aimed at weight loss therefore are designed to increase resting metabolism either by high intensity cardio training or strength training aimed at hypertrophy or both.


Obesity or adiposity,Obesity6 is a medical condition which is characterized by a large amount of excess weight due to fat mass. Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index larger than 30. A BMI of 40 or more is also known as morbid obesity.

Interval Training

Interval training is a form of cardiovascular workout which is characterized by periods of higher intensity exercise followed by periods of lower intensity for recovery. In contrast, regular cardiovascular workouts consist of maintaining only one intensity of exercise for a prolonged period. Research has shown that interval training has considerable advantages over conventional cardiovascular training.


EPOC or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption is the amount of oxygen a body takes in above the normal oxygen needs following exercise. It is often seen as an oxygen debt, built up during intense exercise which could not be sustained by the aerobic system alone. However there are other mechanisms that increase EPOC as well.


The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure which gives an indication whether someone has a healthy bodyweight, underweight, overweight or obese. The BMI can be calculated with the following formulae:BMI_formula_EnglishBMI formula metric The number that is calculated from one of these formulae can be looked up in the table below and determines if someone has a healthy weight or is nderweight, overweight or even obese.

Body Composition

The body composition or  fat percentage is the relative amount of bodyfat. Although the fat percentage is more difficult to assess than for exmaple the BMI, it does give a more information about someone’s bodycomposition and wheter this person has a healthy weight or is over- or underweight.