Many fitness programs are designed to lose weight and pack on muscle, however it can take several months, if not years to see results. As part of my Master’s thesis I had the opportunity to look at the effects of a 4 week high intensity exercise training program on obese sedentary individuals. The results were fascinating. After 4 weeks, the participants in my research reduced their systolic blood pressure (the top number in your blood pressure reading) from a ‘hypertensive level’ (which means they would need to be prescribed medication to lower their blood pressure) to a ‘prehypertensive level’ (which means they would only need to monitor their blood pressure). This means that these individuals would no longer need to rely on medication to control their blood pressure, and simply lead a better life style. Furthermore, the resting heart rate of the participants dropped by approximately 20 beats per minute (which means your heart is pumping at a slower rate, but getting the same amount of blood to the important areas, basically your heart is not working as hard). Here is the kicker, the participants in my research saw a healthy change of 6 pounds, this doesn’t mean they lost 6 pounds, this means they lost weight and gained muscle. Muscle weights more than fat, so losing just six pounds, doesn’t mean they lost six pounds of fat, this means they lost approximately 10 pounds of fat, and gained 4 pounds of muscle. Their body composition changed! So, how did they do it? Here’s the quick and dirty version of how these participants lost weight and changed their body composition in just four weeks of exercise, 30 minutes a week.
Each day, the participants would warm up, doing a either step-ups or jumping jacks for 2 minutes, and then start with the exercise program. The exercise program consisted of 3 sets of 10 repetitions each, much like any other exercise program. The participants did a series of full body exercises in three circuits. Each circuit consisted of 10 repetitions of each exercise moving from exercise to exercise as quickly as possible, then starting over. The most important aspect is that there is no rest (or as little rest as possible). The key to this exercise program is that the participants worked out for 30 minutes straight with very little rest and at a high intensity. Participants worked at 85% of the maximum heart rate (220-age, is a quick formula to find your maximum HR). Was it safe? No participants dropped out due to injury, and all participants were extremely positive about the experience. One participant even said “I have enough energy to play with my children and not get tired now”. There you have it, the fastest (but definitely not easiest) way to lose fat quickly and effectively.
Matthew Miller, B.Kin, M.Sc.