This week a report claimed people who did a brisk walk everyday had lower BMIs and smaller waists than those who went to the gym. But how much exercise do personal trainers – whose jobs depend on their getting results – say we need to do to lose weight?
This week a study from The London School of Economics claimed a brisk 30 minute daily walk is a more effective way of losing weight than running or going to the gym.
Dr Grace Lordan, a specialist in health economics led the research that compared the measurements of people who performed half-an-hour of fast-paced walking compared to those who did the same amount of heavy housework, manual labour and sports like rugby.
The waistline and BMI measurements showed that men and women who regularly walked briskly for more than 30 minutes had lower BMIs and smaller waists than those who engaged in regular exercise. These findings were based on physical activity levels from the annual Health Survey for England between 1999 and 2012.
So what do personal trainers – who get paid to help people lose weight through exercise – think?We asked six of Britain’s best just how much exercise do we actually need to do to lose weight.
‘Three hours work a week’.
Justin Maguire, Founder of FE Gym, reveals that when you want to lose weight you need to think of it on a weekly scale rather than a daily scale. ‘To truly optimise fat loss, it’s three hours work a week. This does not just mean three hours in the gym it means three hours of actual work time.’ Justin states that ‘people can spend an hour and a half in the gym but actually only be doing 40 minutes work.’ He has seen numerous case studies lose weight and states, ‘You need to make your ratio of active to rest time in the gym 2:1. This would mean if you are spending forty seconds working you should only be spending 20 seconds resting.’ Justin says that a moderate to high intensity workout should never last longer than 30 minutes at a maximum. ‘Anything longer than 35 minutes is more detrimental to your lean tissue than beneficial for fat loss.’
In 2001 a study was released by the American College of Sports Medicine stating that two and half hours of steady exercise might not actually be enough. A later study by the American College of Sports Medicine which was published in the journal, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, showed that between 150 and 250 minutes of moderate intensity steady exercise per week would prevent weight gain but would only discreetly effect weight loss. If we were doing 30 minutes of walking a day at a moderate intensity this would total at 210 minutes, meaning it would prevent weight gain but only discreetly effect weight loss.
Matt Hodges (The MPH Method)
’18 minutes of high intensity interval training, three times a week’
Matt Hodges, Transformation Coach at ‘The MPH Method’, states, ‘you can’t say to someone there is a set amount of time to lose weight. Everybody is different, you want to maintain muscle and therefore lose fat not weight.’ He says that fasted cardio tends to burn body fat faster; ‘however the bigger you are the more work you have to put in.’ Matt reveals that the best time to do cardio is in the morning because of hormone fluctuations, he says, ‘it is best to do it within half an hour of waking up’. After almost eleven years of experience, Matt states, ‘I’ve found that 18 minutes is the optimal amount of time to perform high intensity interval training (HIIT). 30 seconds should be pure intense work (like you are running the 100m sprint) and thirty seconds of rest.’ This actually means you are only doing nine minutes of active intense exercise. Matt says, ‘If you do any more than 18 minutes your body will more than likely start to slip into a catabolic state and anything under 18 minutes is simply not optimal.’
the best time to do cardio is in the morning because of hormone fluctuations and it’s best to do it within half an hour of waking up.
Lloyd Bridger (LDN Muscle)
’25 minutes of HIIT, 2-4 times a week’
Lloyd, a personal trainer at LDN Muscle, agrees with Matt Hodges, stating the best way to lose fat is high intensity interval training. ‘To lose fat, high intensity interval training is the best way, you should be opting for 10-20 second intervals for eight reps with one minute rest.’ Lloyd suggests the ideal length of time for a HIIT workout session is 25 minutes for anywhere between two-four times a week. Lloyd announces that, ‘one pound per week is a steady and sustainable amount of weight to lose.’ If you are looking for fat loss, Lloyd recommends a small calorie deficit of 300 – 400 calories from your typical calorie intake.
It is more accurate to follow your results by charting your muscle mass and fat percentage than watching your weight.
Anya Lahiri (Barry’s Bootcamp and Nike)
Anya Lahiri, head trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp and Nike Elite Trainer reveals that ‘it is important not to fixate on weight when you are trying to lose fat and lose inches, muscle ultimately weighs more than fat and the more muscle you are carrying the more fat you will burn. It is more accurate to follow your results by charting your muscle mass and fat percentage than watching your weight.’ Anya believes in shocking the body with new exercises and routines, she says, ‘High intensity interval training is an excellent way to improve fitness, combining HIIT with resistance work and bodyweight is a great way to burn fat, ideally I would recommend trying to combine half an hour of cardio and half an hour of resistance training three times a week minimum.’
‘1lb of body fat is equal to 3,500 calories, which is a lot of energy
So is high intensity interval training really the best possible way to burn fat? A study conducted by East Tennessee State University, Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of New South Wales have shown that shorter, high-intensity cardio sessions result in greater fat loss over time than longer, low intensity sessions.
Chris Hall (Hall training systems)
’30 minute HIIT sessions 1-3 times a week’
Chris Hall, founder of Hall Training Systems, like Lloyd recommends that a healthy amount of weight to lose per week is 1-2Ibs of body fat. ‘1lb of body fat is equal to 3,500 calories, which is a lot of energy but when it is combined with a healthy diet, good sleeping pattern and daily exercise it is a realistic target.’ Chris bases his own training on a 20 minutes HIIT workouts that he states are, ‘short but intense.’ Chris believes it is best to start with 1 HIIT session a week and move up to three sessions.
Chris tells me that as little as four minutes of HIIT has been shown to be enough of a workout to make a difference. ‘HIIT training gets the heart rate up high in the session, therefore burning more calories per minute than the old steady state cardio methods of the past.’ The reason you will burn the most fat with HIIT is because your body will continue burning calories for several hours after your workout.
THE VERDICT? Studies are one thing but for the guys and girls who get paid to make people lose weight, it looks like a high intensity class or session for at least 25 minutes for a minimum of three days a week is what you need to do. This length of time will build strength, preserve muscle mass and effect a healthy weight loss of 1Ib a week when combined with a healthy balanced diet.