How To Get Results Working Out Twice Per Week
Can you actually only work out twice a week and still get results?
Absolutely. BUT, not without a little extra effort in the key areas I’m going to chat about below. I’m going to warn you though, they’re not very flashy, exciting or complex.
If you’re only in the gym for a couple hours each week, we need to make sure those other 166 hours spent outside of the gym each week aren’t unknowingly hindering results.
For the purpose of this post, by “results” we’ll assume your primary goal is to change your body composition – lose fat, look better and feel better.
Exercise is only one part of the equation when it comes to getting lean. Proper nutrition, adequate sleep and stress management are the three most important factors that need to be addressed if you really want to transform your body composition. All of these things help to optimize your hormonal physiology, which controls your metabolism.
So let’s get into the nitty gritty.
Your Nutrition MUST Be On Point.
I can’t emphasize this enough. How you eat is by far the number one determinant of fat loss (I know, EYEROLL). You could be exercising like a maniac, but if your diet is out of whack, you’ll just be spinning your wheels.
VERY, very few people can get dramatic results by just working out and not changing how they eat to support their goals.
This doesn’t mean you have to eat “perfectly”, it just means you needs to make consistently smart choices. A little more green stuff, a little less donut and pizza stuff.
I don’t encourage any of my clients to “diet” in the traditional sense. Instead, I encourage finding a fat-loss friendly way of eating that is both enjoyable and sustainable – meaning it’s something you can stick with for the long haul without feeling like you need time off because it’s so rigid and miserable.
The best way to do this is to go against everything you’ve ever been taught about dieting: DON’T make lists of foods that are “off limits”.
Instead, focus on eating whole, nutrient dense foods 80-90% of the time and incorporate the indulgences that you enjoy such (wine, chocolate, ice cream, etc.) on occasion, in moderation, when you truly want them.
It’s not super sexy advice, but it’s what works, and that’s why I’m telling you.
Although nutrition isn’t one size fits all and we are all individuals, there are a few “big rocks” for eating for fat loss, and what you must nail down first:
Eat protein at each meal and snack(chicken, lean turkey, lean beef, fish, eggs, egg whites, greek yogurt, protein powder)
Eat lots of veggies and leafy greens (broccoli, asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, zucchini, mushrooms, cucumber, etc)
Eat some healthy fats (avocados, olive oil, olives, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, nut butter).
Eat most of your carbs around your workouts (sweet or white potatoes, brown or white rice, oatmeal, breads, quinoa, etc)
At the end of the day, fat loss simply comes down to eating slightly less calories than your body is burning. If you are gaining weight, you are eating too much. If you’re staying the same, you’re eating at maintenance. If you’re losing more than a handful of pounds per week, you’re probably in too big of a caloric deficit.
This doesn’t mean you need to count calories, but I do recommend tracking what you eat for a few days to get a good idea of how much you actually are eating as well as to learn the caloric and macronutrient (protein, carb, fat) content of common foods.
I know this can be a super uncomfortable, vulnerable task, but we can’t make changes if we don’t know our starting point and what is/isn’t working.
My one last nutrition tip: make the effort to prep/eat the majority of your meals at home. Eating out isn’t the end of the world, but just be mindful of the huge portions, hidden calories and the temptation to overeat. If you do eat out, simply order according to the guidelines above.
Strength training should be your number one form of exercise if you are trying to get lean. This, along with consuming adequate protein, is what’s going to help you preserve muscle (your metabolism) so you are losing exclusively body fat.
Muscle is what keeps our metabolism healthy. So if we’re not strength training while trying to lose fat, we’re not going to just lose fat, we’re going to lose muscle too, in turn slowing down our metabolism and making those pounds very difficult to keep off.
Your two weekly workouts should be full body, composed predominantly of multi-joint movements such as deadlifts, squats, chin ups, rows, pushups and single leg exercises like lunges and all of their variations. These movements incorporate a larger number of muscle groups, which will ultimately stimulate more muscle, more energy expenditure and therefore more results.
If you work hard, challenge yourself with weights and make improving your performance each time you hit the gym (increasing weight, doing an extra rep or set with the same weight) you can attain great results.
So make sure you are tracking your workouts so you can be sure to progress each workout.
It’s super important to note that bootcamp classes, p90x/workout DVDs, yoga/pilates, “weights” classes or any other workout that is just random high rep, low weight (less than 15lbs), high speed movements is NOT true strength training. These workouts are what I call “cardio weights”. They’re inferior to proper strength training and will not create the jaw-dropping transformations that most women desire.
For my best beginner strength workout CLICK HERE.
Manage Your Sleep and Stress
This is something that is so overlooked when it comes to fat loss – ESPECIALLY for women. Sleep deprivation and chronic stress can be a huge hindrance to results. Not only do they affect our hunger and cravings, causing us to chow down more, but they also throw our hormones out of whack.
Plus, when we’re tired and stressed, our motivation and energy to get our workouts in and cook healthy meals totally plummets, and we usually crave those “comfort foods”.
If you want to maximize your fat loss results, you need to be consistently getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night.
You also need to spend some time doing your choice of stress-reducing activity each day if you can. This can include walking, reading, journaling, light yoga, spending quality time with family/friends, taking a relaxing bath.
As little as 10-15 minutes can have a significant impact.
Get your mind right and the body will follow.
NEAT is a really fun word, but it also stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or basically the energy we expend via movement done outside of exercise that can keep our metabolism well-oiled.
This could be biking or walking instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, getting up and walking to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing, parking farther away from store entrances, pacing while on the phone instead of sitting, walking on your lunch break, doing housework or yard work, playing with your kids, walking the dog, moving furniture and so on.
Basically all of the things we stopped doing because of technology.
Don’t fall into the belief that just because you work out, you can get away with sitting for the rest of the day. You can’t.
Again, this is totally bland stuff compared to those flashy infomercials that promise you instant results, but NEAT is a huge factor of our daily energy expenditure – arguably moreso than exercise. Sneak in all of the NEAT you can into your day, low intensity movement is incredibly overrated for fat loss and overall health.
While all of these things are super important pieces of the fat loss puzzle, do not stress about overhauling your life to implement every single one of these things right this second. Choose just one at a time and focus all of your energy on it until it becomes a solid, effortless habit in your life. Then move on to the next.
Choose the low hanging fruit here. So pick whichever you feel would be the easiest and most effortless for YOU to implement first.
Remember, we’re in this for the long haul, so don’t stress that you’re not doing things “perfectly”, don’t freak when you mess up (because you will mess up and it’s okay), and always remember that your body fat has zero impact on your worth as a person.
All of your seemingly small daily actions WILL add up and if you stay patient and consistent you will reach your goals if you follow the above steps.