I've (5'3" 164 pound woman) recently returned to being
in average shape - take challenging
kickboxing classes, can easily run 5 miles, etc. - but feel like I
have this layer of fat covering all of my muscles so that basically I just
My strength and endurance are improving steadily, but I
still can't fit into any of my clothes. What is the best strategy for
burning the fat and getting back to my optimal weight of 140lbs (for me a
Is it just a matter of continuing with my fitness
regime and cutting calories, or should I be making adjustments to both?
How should I balance
weight training sessions?
You failed to mention how long you have been regularly exercising since you
have "returned to average shape." It is very common for the human body to
change very minimally during the first month (s) of a new exercise program.
The reason for this is because your body's neurological system is in an
untrained state so the bulk of your body's adaptation to exercise is getting
your neurological system 'up to speed' so to speak. This would explain
your physical fitness performance improving while you still feel as if you have
a layer of fat covering muscles.
Get More Analytical, Establish Measurable Goals
In order for you to obtain your goals most efficiently it is essential for
you to establish starting point. Your qualitative goals of fitting into
your pants and getting back to a size 6 are good but it is important you try to
set more scientific goals.
the goals is the first step which will allow you (or a professional) to be able
to help you better. The first thing you should do is get your body fat
percentage estimated. You can do this on a BIA scale, or preferably a bodyfat
If you are a member to a local gym it is a good place to ask a professional
or you could buy a cheap set of calipers and do it yourself at home. They
sell the Accumeasure calipers and measuring tape on Amazon for less than
Once you have a general idea of your body fat percentage it will be a lot
easier to assess your workout regimen along with your diet at any point of your
program. Rather than guessing, you can estimate how much you need to
change your fitness regimen in order to accomplish your goals.
As of now, you have no idea of your body fat percentage so there is really no
way to determine how much fat you have to lose. Although highly unlikely,
your current exercise regimen and diet could have increased your muscle mass
while maintaining the same level of body fat, hence making you feel this way.
Burning the Fat
Burning body fat is always a matter of calories in vs. calories out although
it is almost never this easy in practice.
Counting calories is one thing you can do to ensure you will lose weight, but
for most people it is not practical.
For most people, learning about nutrition and making healthy food choices
with proper timing will take care of the calories without counting them and the
weight will come off with the proper exercise program.
The optimal diet for each individual varies but for fat loss, the most
efficient ways to eat are usually 4-6 small, balanced meals/snacks evenly spaced
throughout the day along with plenty of water intake (drinks as well as food,
i.e. fruits and vegetables). Developing your personal optimal fat loss
What this is trying to get at is, in the real world, there is not a single
correct answer to your question. Whether you read a magazine, look online
or even hire an expensive dietitian, trial and error is the only way you will
truly find the optimal diet for achieving your goals.
Balancing Weight Training with Interval Training
Although interval training uses a good percentage of aerobic energy pathways,
it also uses the same anaerobic pathways as weight training. Therefore to
effectively balance both modes of training it is optimal you avoid performing
weight training and interval training on the same day.
Performing a lower intensity cardio session on the same day as your weight
training is okay, but performing (high intensity) interval training is not going
to allow you to recover sufficiently to get the most out of the weight training
workout and vice versa.
Keep up what has gotten you thus far. Analyze and set goals for the
short and long term. Make sure you enjoy your workouts and reassess in the
weeks and months to come. "Listen to your body" for signs of plateau
including unusual fatigue, nagging injuries and signs of sickness. If and
when this happens, stop, take a week or so of active rest and re-start or revamp
your exercise program and you will be on the path to accomplishing all your