We aim to use this article to help explain cross trainer weight loss benefits and how you can take advantage of them. Firstly we explain some of the common mistakes people make when exercising to lose weight. We follow this by explaining how exercise can help you lose weight. Separating exercise into 3 categories, cardio, interval training and weight training.
Cross trainer weight loss – common mistakes people make when exercising for weight loss
It is incredibly important to stress that exercise should only be a part of a fat burning and weight loss strategy. The most important element is diet.
Diet is key, and no matter how hard you train, if your diet is not conducive you will not lose weight.
Put as simply as possible, if you consume more calories than you burn, you will not achieve a calorie deficit. No calorie deficit no weight loss!
Therefore, a common misconception is that simply adding exercise into your routine is enough. You will not see the fat burning benefits of exercise continuing with a diet including the wrong food types. The same can be said if it contains more calories than you burn.
Sports scientists have identified another common issue, often referred to as “compensation”. This is where people that start to consume more calories when they begin to exercise.
This can take the form of a self-reward for having exercised. Treating yourself to a bar of chocolate in the miss-conception that you have burned more calories than it contains.
A 49g bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk contains 260 calories. An average 11 stone or 155lb person would burn the equivalent number of calories walking on a treadmill at a brisk pace (3.5mph) for 30 minutes.
Let’s say that same person spent 30 minutes in an Aerobics class. That would burn 457 calories, or took a 30 minutes swim, which burns 493 calories. It is easy to see even if you burn more than the 260 calories in that chocolate bar, it still makes a significant dent.
A number of people make a different mistake from rewarding themselves with a “treat”. They fall for the clever marketing of companies selling them high energy drinks, gels or power bars. Having often seen athletes and sports stars doing the sale at the end of events or matches. Not considering that these athletes are already at a healthy weight (they are professionals after all!). Therefore they would typically expend far more energy than a lay person working out.
Energy drinks are often packed with sugar and can contain up to 300 calories per serving – more than that chocolate bar. Even adding a couple of extra pieces of fruit such as bananas or oranges can add 200 calories to your daily intake.
Doing less aside from exercise
Several studies have shown that a number of people compensate for working out more by actually doing less in their day to day lives. Walking a mile to and from the shops or your kids school is the same as walking 2 miles on a treadmill at the gym. Some people reduce that walking feeling they are getting what they need from the gym. Or the gym is eating into the amount of time they have in the day. So they jump in the car more often and are back to square one!
It’s important to add progression into your work outs. The body adapts to new stimulus when you begin regular work outs. But gains are are harder when you have been doing the same exercise for period of time. Once the body has adapted, not increasing the difficulty/intensity means gains will be significantly less. This is a trap that many people fall into. They continue to run at the same speed or cycle the same distance without progressing. Resulting in gains from doing so becoming insignificant.
Cross trainer weight loss – how should you exercise in order to lose weight?
Again, the key thing to remember is everything we talk about below can still be undone with the wrong diet. That can’t be emphasised enough!
This next section is going to concentrate on the calorie burning impact of exercise. However there are other ways that exercise can benefit weight loss, which we will discuss further on.
The number one thing to remember is that not all exercises were created equal!
30 minutes leisurely cycling on an exercise bike is not equivalent to 30 minutes of sprint intervals on that same bike. In the same way an aerobics class does burn calories to the same degree as playing squash.
We are going to discuss three types of exercise and their impacts:
- Cardio training – low intensity exercise able to be carried out for an extended period of time. An hour on the cross trainer at moderate pace and intensity.
- Interval training – shorter work out (less than 30 mins) on the cross trainer with varying rates of speed and intensity.
- Resistance training – Increasing resistance levels on the cross trainer to high levels. Meaning muscles are engaged more forcefully to use the machine. Time taken is low.
Cross trainer weight loss – Cardio
The easiest most basic way to exercise as the barriers to entry are almost non-existent.
How hard is it to put on a pair of trainers and go for a brisk walk or jog? Climb on the bike that’s been gathering dust in the garage all these years? Pop down to the local swimming pool?
Therefore, cardio is the first form of exercise that people often start with when setting out to lose weight.
This makes a lot of sense. You can build up a certain level of heart and muscle strength before pushing yourself with something more vigorous.
Also, it is possible to do a lot of this form of exercise as it is not overly taxing on your muscles or cardiovascular system. You can walk for hours!
There are downsides of cardio which can lead to people either giving up or not maximising their potential.
It can soon become a little tedious, time spent jogging the same route or sat on an exercise bike at the gym can be boring. It’s important to do all you can to elevate this boredom. Taking a different route for that jog or listening to an audiobook whilst sat on the bike can help. You do not want boredom putting an end to your efforts.
Although good for the heart, heart rate tends to remain pretty consistent. This means it does not prepare the heart for rapid changes needed for moments of extreme stress.
The nature of cardio means that you gain calorie burning benefits whilst exercising. However unlike other exercise you do not burn significant amounts of additional calories when you finish. This is down to something known as the EPOC effect (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption). This kicks in after more intense work outs, details of this will be covered in the next section.
Cross trainer weight loss – interval training
High intensity interval training (HIIT) has become increasing popular over the last few years. Lots of routines have been published promising to burn hundreds of calories in as little as 20 minutes.
The key thing that distinguishes it from other workouts is varying speed and intensity. For example 30 seconds sprinting at your maximum, then recovering with 90 seconds jogging. The cycle is repeated over and over.
The calorie burning potential of HIIT is far in excess of cardio work outs. The major contributing factor to this is EPOC as mentioned earlier. This is basically continuing to burn calories after the work out has finished. Potentially for 16-24 hours afterwards.
Interval training will make you out of breath. The harder you work out the more oxygen you need to burn to create energy. Low intensity exercise like cardio burns a combination of oxygen and glucose. When you push yourself harder, you start to take in more oxygen, i.e. breath more heavily. Then you get to a stage where you can not take in enough and the body starts to burn solely glucose. This can only be maintained for a short period of time.
However, once the workout has finished your body needs to work to replace oxygen in your system and clear out waste products. This requires energy and therefore calories, and continues long after the work out finishes.
Sounds great, but there are draw backs to HIIT
Firstly, it’s more demanding on the body than cardio. Therefore it takes a longer time to recover and be ready to carry out the next interval training session. It’s advisable to have a day or twos rest in between sessions. This means although you may get more from your work out, cardio may let you work out more.
Also, the more physically demanding nature of HIIT means that you can not dive in to it straight away. Your body needs to acclimatise to exercising if you are just starting out. A number of people progress to this too early. This leads to increased levels of post exercise soreness or even injury. The soreness or injury can mean you work out less or even stop altogether.
Cross trainer weight loss – resistance training
Weight, strength, or resistance training as it is often referred to, is applying opposing force (usually through lifting) on muscles through concentric or eccentric contraction, for example lifting dumbbells. It has more than one fat burning/weight loss benefit.
Number one, your body continues to burn an elevated number of calories after weight training, potentially for up to 36 hours.
The strenuous nature of lifting weights creates tiny micro-tears in your muscles. Post work out your body repairs these micro-tears and the muscles adapt and increase in strength and size. This repair of muscle tissue requires energy. Therefore more calories are burnt, often referred to as an increased metabolism.
Secondly this form of training increases the bodies lean muscle mass. Even at rest muscle burns more calories than other body tissues such as fat. This means, if you have increased your muscle mass, you will be burning a greater number of calories at rest. Even while you are sat on the sofa in front of the T.V.
The best forms of strength training are ones that recruit the largest muscles or maximum amount of muscles. Afterwards there are more muscle fibres to be repaired. Also more energy is expended whilst working out.
Many studies promote weight training as the most efficient way to burn fat and calories. Especially if you have time constraints and therefore limited time to exercise.
Strength training is not without “cons” however.
For people just starting out and lifting weights for the first time the muscle soreness after a session can be off putting. This muscle soreness is the bodies way of telling you that it is working on repairing muscles. It discourages you from putting further strain on them.
Those that are inexperienced may be prone to poor form (body position) which can increase risk of injury. It is advisable to either research how to carry out exercises properly or get a professional to guide you.
Use cardio to get the body used to working out, then start training with very low weights.
Cross trainer weight loss – So what does all this mean?
Let’s create a hierarchy of the three types of exercise, cardio, HIIT and resistance. Based on the calories burned as a result of a 30-minute session, then resistance would be top, HIIT second and cardio third.
However… This does not factor in how long that you can actually carry out the various forms of exercise or how frequently. For instance, you would burn more calories walking for 8 hours 6 days a week compared to lifting weights for 30 minutes three days a week.
Okay that is an extreme example, no one has the time to spend that amount of time walking! But it leads us to our conclusion nicely.
The best way to exercise in order to burn fat and lose weight is a combination of all three. Days after weight lifting when you are allowing muscles to heal and repair you can focus on cardio. But exercise different muscle groups, for instance don’t cycle the day after heavy leg training. Also build weight training into HIIT routines. Create intensity by leaving very little time between sets to get your heart and lungs working.
This way you maximise the overall volume of training without over-training. Reaping the benefits of each exercise type. Remember though it is important to have at least one day of rest every week.
Cross trainer weight loss – further benefits of exercise in weight management
So far we’ve concentrated on the calorie burning impact of exercise on weight loss. But this is not the only way that exercise can assist us in burning fat and losing weight.
In a number of people stress is a contributory factor in weight gain. Exercise can act as a mechanism to reduce stress.
When we are stressed our bodies produce cortisol. Cortisol can increase appetite and also drive cravings for unhealthy carbohydrate rich junk foods. It can also encourage some peoples body to accumulate body fat. Especially around their mid-section.
Exercise can reduce stress as it releases endorphins which counteract the effects of cortisol. Therefore, regular exercise can keep the problems associated with stress and cortisol at bay.
Cross trainer weight loss – we’ve talked about the right diet, what is it?!
Well having got this far we guess that you will be thinking the key to diet for weight loss is to make sure you consume a limited number of calories. And that would be fair, to a degree…
But not every calorie is created equal. Eating 2000 calories made up of refined sugar will produce difference results than a mixture of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. It is also important to ensure you include fibre and a wide range of vitamin rich foods in your diet.
Different body types react differently to various ratios of the major food groups protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Some people have a much higher metabolism than others. They can eat as they please without gaining weight. While others may have conditions such as insulin resistance which mean that sugary foods induce higher blood sugar. Resulting in increases in body fat. We could write a whole article on this, but for now we will stay more high level.
The key is to focus on eating “whole foods”. Foods processed or refined as little as possible. Diet should focus on eating:
- Lean meats such as chicken and fish
- Healthy fats found in the likes of fish, nuts and avocados
- Carbohydrates from fresh fruit and vegetables, which are high in fibre
It doesn’t hurt to have the occasional treat, a bar of chocolate or slice of pizza. But this sort of food needs to be the exception rather than the rule. Take a look at our guide to diet and exercise.
What does this all mean then?
Okay to summarise the major message from this article…
The key to gaining cross trainer weight loss benefits is to mix cardio, interval, and resistance training. This will result in numerous other health benefits. Building a stronger, fitter body that burns more calories even at rest.
However as hard as you train a poor diet will through away all that good work. In fact diet is far more important than exercise alone in weight control. Therefore watch what you eat to watch the number on the scales drop!
p.s, if you found this article useful or interesting please like or share this so others can find us, thanks!