Best Workout for Fat Loss – Why Training Variables Matter


Guilty. This blog title drew you in, but there isn’t one type of workout that is better than another. Most people tie their workout duration to their schedule, which is the best case scenario, but sometimes there can be benefits to something you have never done before. I want to explain the differences in workout durations and the benefits of both; basically exactly what you need to do for both long and short workouts to get the best results! Workout for fat loss is dependent on a few different training variables.

Training Variables

When we think about workouts, sometimes we hear that you have to do hours of cardio to see results, when it reality the key to fat loss is the way you use the training variables.

Training routines are made unique by changing the volume, intensity, duration and frequency. These 4 variables, when adjusted correctly, are they key to a sustainable fat loss workout. 

Volume: how much you are lifting (in terms of repetitions)

Intensity: how heavy you are lifting (in terms of pounds lifted)

Duration: how long are you exercising for

Frequency: how many times a week are you exercising

By adjusting these training variables we can great a program that is tailored not only to your goals, but also to your schedule! Some people like to lift heavy weights, that is going to be an increased intensity, decreased volume and longer duration! For someone who wants a shorter duration workout, we would increase the volume, decrease the intensity! Let me break it down by duration so you understand where the fat loss really comes from.

Short Duration Workout for Fat Loss

It’s nothing new that HIIT workouts are a great way to lose body fat, but why do they work? They work because the training variables are adjusting so that you are able to maximize your time while also getting in a full body workout. HIIT workouts are mostly designed as cardio workouts; getting you to expend as much energy as possible for 10-15 seconds, and then allowing you to rest and recover for a few minutes before doing it again. This can be beneficial for fat loss, but sometimes everyone doesn’t want to do cardio equipment work. This is where the variables come in.

If you have 20 minutes to get a workout in at home, you can do it using weights and full body movements so that the heart rate stays relatively high the entire time. This is beneficial because not only is the body/heart going to work all day to help you recover, it is also going to work all muscle groups for an overall strength training workout!

If we are looking to create a short duration fat burning workout, there’s the key…

  • REST IS LIMITED – in order to make short duration workouts effective, the amount of rest during the workout is limited. This is to ensure our heart rate stays high the whole time.
  • POUNDS LIFTED IS LOW – for a quick workout to keep you moving, you don’t want to focus on heavy weights. You want to focus on a weight you can lift for several repetitions while tired!
  • VOLUME IS HIGH – this means repetitions is high to make sure we are moving through the movements quickly.
  • INTENSITY IS KEY – a 20 minute workout where you lifting something and then walk around for 2 minutes and lift it again is not going to be an effective fat burning workout. You need to keep intensity high and be moving the entire time.

So a short duration workout for fat loss is going to be high intensity, little rest, and a whole lot of sweat!

Long Duration Workout for Fat Loss

Long duration workouts for fat loss means changing the variables a little bit. If we have the time for a long workout, that means we are able to lift heavier weights, take rest, and keep our overall heart rate a little bit lower to make sure we never “burn out”. 

People like to assume that the only way to lose fat and see results is to have their heart rate at 160bpm for 45 minutes. Well, definitely not the case. In fact, long duration fat loss actually occurs when your heart rate is at the moderate level. This means about 50-60% of your max heart rate, so being able to walk and talk at the same time. Crazy, right?!

For a long duration workout, here is what is key:

  • REST IS ENCOURAGED – if you are lifting heavy weights, you need to be resting to give yourself recovery time. Keeping that heart rate in check and resting 1-1 minutes between sets.
  • VOLUME and INTENSITY are inverse – if we are lifting heavy weights (intensity is high) then we need to have a low volume (repetitions). This means we are able to recover between sets. If we are lifting moderate weights (intensity is low) then we need to inversely increase volume (repetitions) to make sure we keep the muscles working!
  • PROGRESSION IS KEY – with longer duration workouts for fat loss, we really want to make sure we are still progressing ourselves. So this means either increasing our weights lifted over time, or increasing the amount of times we lift a certain weight. Without progression we are not moving forward, and therefore we will hit a plateau.

So a long duration workout for fat loss looks like heavy weights, more rest and moderate heart rate!

One thing people also tend to do wrong when it comes to duration and intensity is increase both of them. So they tend to do a HIIT workout for 45 minutes hoping they will burn more calories and fat loss will happen faster. That isn’t necessarily true. Everyones body is different, but if we put that my stress on the body, for that long, for multiple days in a row, we are likely going to burn out our metabolism and start regressing. More isn’t always better. So make sure you take those rest days, find a workout that works for you and track your progress!

So no matter what your schedule is or preferred method of training, you can still see fat loss results! You just want to make sure with long duration workouts you are keeping things moderate, and short duration workouts you are going all in! As far as frequency goes, it depends on your schedule! You want to make sure you take 1-2 rest days per week for recovery time, because without recovery we do not see results. But being about to workout 4-5 times per week is going to be the best way to reach your goals as fast as possible!

Haley Rowe February 16, 2019