When it comes to people’s top goals for improving body composition, fat loss often takes the cake. But we can’t talk about how to lower body fat percentage without touching on how to drop pounds in general. That’s because you can’t necessarily target fat loss in one specific area — say, just your arms or belly. You have to work to reduce fat all over. The key to that being one main principle: calorie deficiency.
You have to burn more calories than you consume. While of course diet is involved in that, you also need to move more — and not just in a sweat session, but also those hours between your morning alarm and your bedtime.
So, what should you be doing in those daily hours from dawn to dusk to help you drop that body fat percentage? Here, four fitness must-dos to see results, plus other can’t-miss tips for finding success.
4 Strategies for Reducing Body Fat Percentage
It may seem small, familiar and just a little too easy, but it’ll make a difference: Get on your feet more often. Take breaks from your seat. That could actually make or break your daily deficit. In fact, a recent study found that simply standing rather than sitting for six hours a day could help a 140-pound person burn more than 50 extra calories in 24 hours. And that doesn’t involve any movement, just static standing. Imagine the calorie-crushing possibilities if you took brisk walks each day.
Besides taking more moments to stand up, doing a more efficient workout means you’ll blast more calories and burn more fat. Try interval workouts like our MaxHIIT 45 classes Tuesday mornings at 8:30am and Thursday evenings 6:15pm.
Metabolic conditioning workouts place a high-demand on the body by testing its different energy systems. Once you influence your metabolic burn rate, it stays up even during rest intervals. That gives you a much more efficient fuel burn, without feeling like you overdid it. Stick with metcon workouts of about 30 minutes and HIIT workouts (high intensity) for about 15 minutes. Aim to do these every other day, or take two to three days of rest between each, so your body can properly recover.
Beyond sweat-inducing intervals, another way to increase your fat-burning and muscle-building potential is resistance training. We need strength training to preserve muscle tissue. Cardio burns more calories, but it doesn’t do much to prevent muscle loss. You’ll want more muscle to burn more daily calories.
Science backs up this need to lift weights for weight loss. A recent study involving about 250 individuals in their 60s pitted cardio workouts against strength sessions. The researchers found that while you need both, resistance work wins out in terms of losing fat without losing muscle.
Another benefit of strength training: It preps your muscles to push even harder during tough interval sessions. It also lets you push yourself in your next workout. Aka the more you strength train, the harder you work in your next workout, and the more calories you burn overall.
No matter which workouts you choose, keep in mind, if you want to burn fat, you don’t necessarily need to work in the fat-burning energy system. If you’ve ever stepped on a cardio machine, you may have noticed the meter on the dashboard illustrating your training zone (warm-up, fat-burn, cardio and peak heart rate). Fat-burn is on the lower end of the effort scale — we burn fat even while sleeping, therefore, it’s not necessarily the ideal training zone for fat loss.
Your total caloric expenditure is what’s most important — not the type of fuel source you’re using at any given time. That means, if you opt for high-intensity interval training level, then you’re burning more energy overall — even if less of that energy comes from fat as the fuel.