Losing Weight – by our Master Trainer, Mark Cosgrove

‘Losing weight’ should not be anyone’s goal when it comes to training. Anyone can lose weight. Weigh yourself last thing at night and then weigh yourself first thing in the morning, you’ll weigh less! That’s losing weight right? Most people, most of the time when losing weight are in fact just losing lean mass – the good stuff, not the fat mass which should be targeted. Fat loss is a more appropriate term in this case. Dropping weight should just be another tool you use in order to track progress. Look at yourself, take pictures and measurements, this will give you a better perspective.



People that just want to ‘lose weight’ and nothing more (because they think weight loss = fat loss) can usually be lighter on the scale, but, will not look much different. Most of the time, people who try to achieve ‘weight loss’ usually start by beginning a fad diet where they eat a potato cake first thing in the morning and then a carrot just before bed! Snacking on grapes through the day! This is due to mass deception with in the fitness industry that really really annoys me! So, what SHOULD be your goal instead of just losing weight? I believe it should be changing your body composition, in other words, changing the way you look, not what the number on the scale says. This can easily be done whilst maintaining a healthy balanced diet. NOT starving yourself!

The best way in which we can change our body comp is through exercise and our nutritional habits. It can take as little as 20 minutes 3-4 times a week. That’s easily manageable for anyone. Most people spend more time sat in front of the tv. 20 minutes of the right training is enough to help achieve most goals. Bare in mind the example goal here for this article is weight loss, the right weight loss. We want to target fat not lean mass. Training at the right intensity for short bursts is perfect. Look at sprinters, they have fantastic body composition. Their training is based around short, hard, explosive training. Now compare that physique with a marathon runner who’s training is based around long steady state training.

Lifting weights and some circuits are a fantastic way in which you can improve your body comp. 20 minutes of a high intense circuit 3-4 times per week is great and will help you along your way to reaching that goal. These can be bodyweight circuits if the gym is out of the question or you can use weights depending on where you are. Start this type of training with a smart approach to your diet and I can guarantee that you will see the results! Generally when performing circuits of this nature, especially if you only have 20 minutes, it is best to adapt a full body approach to your workout. Rest times should be minimal between exercises and you should be giving 100% throughout. You will have to set up all stations required before hand and make sure machines, if you’re using them, are free. Once you have completed an exercise you move onto the next, just like a circuit! Weights shouldn’t be super heavy but nor should they be light. You should be able to complete around 15 repetitions (not to failure). This is a very basic example of how to perform a high intensity resistance training circuit. It will do the job, it works and it’s simple. Changing the way you look is not difficult, anyone can do it. Keep things simple, that’s the whole point, be patient and put the work in. It won’t happen over night but if you’re consistent it will happen eventually! It didn’t take you a week to get to where you are now in terms of your physique so why expect it to change dramatically in the same amount of time? If you have more than 20 minutes to train then I would suggest a different approach, however, I would definitely add this in at some point in the week. More than 20 minutes means you could perform a more ‘traditional’ style weight program. If this is the case then I would suggest doing so.

Nutrition is the most important part to anyone’s training goals. It is vital in changing your body composition. It is also over looked by many, they think that training alone is what it takes, but that’s not the case. You can either fail to progress or even wreck the progression you have made with bad nutritional habits. It’s not about fad diets for a quick fix and that will not work in the long term. Too many people are caught up with these diets which in some cases are just dangerous. But, if the scale says you have dropped 14 stone in a week, surely that’s a good thing?? Obviously not! It’s all about making the correct food choices and fitting them in with your lifestyle. Too many people think there’s a secret formula, believe me there really isn’t. Patience, hard work and making the correct decisions regarding nutrition is really all it takes.

The reason most people are overweight in the first place is down to their nutritional habits and the lifestyle they lead. I would also say that its almost certainly down to the amount of carbohydrates and fat they consume on a daily basis. They consume far to much of either macronutrient for what their lifestyle warrants. For somebody who is highly active and who trains at a high intensity will certainly require Carbs in their diet, lots of Carbs. I believe that 100%. That’s from experience. Carbs are NOT the devil food group if you use them correctly. I am currently eating 600g of Carbs per day which is a huge amount. It’s taken many years of being consistent with my diet and the tracking of it to reach this level, over time I have improved my metabolism and my tolerance to carbs. I need that huge amount to fuel my training and help me GAIN weight. The intensity in which I train and the frequency in which I do so require that amount. Making sure you fuel yourself with Carbs also helps to stop the breakdown of proteins that can be used as energy (in a low fat/carb diet this almost a certainty) when in fact protein is needed to help repair damaged muscle tissue caused by training. Now, for somebody who is training to lose weight, or anyone training at a moderate intensity level, 3-4 times a week, the amount of Carbs I am having would not be suitable for those individuals. Here’s why- Carbohydrates are the most immediate source of energy. They provide the energy that fuels muscle contractions. It makes us move, it makes us run, jump, skip, push, pull. Once eaten, carbohydrates are broken down into smaller sugars. These sugars then get absorbed and used as energy. Anything not needed right away gets stored in the muscles and the liver in the form of glycogen. Once these glycogen stores are full, any extra gets stored as fat. This is the problem. Excess Carbs that are not used are stored as fat. By the way, it doesn’t matter if you ate those Carbs at 2pm or 9pm, if they’re eaten in excess (more than your body needs/uses) they will cause you to gain weight regardless. This brings me back to the beginning. The majority of our lifestyles do not warrant the amount of Carbs consumed. If you are overweight or need to drop a few pounds and change the way you look, then the last thing you need are excess Carbohydrates. You need to limit them to what your body needs and wants. To do this it is a matter of trial and error. You need to see what works, some people can consume a large amount of Carbohydrates and still lose weight (like me), some others may have to drop them quite low. There is no need to drop them to zero though! Like I have said many times, this is where tracking macros can really help. You know exactly the amount of Carbohydrates you will be consuming so you can adjust accordingly to help with the goal. Guessing how many grams of a macronutrient you are consuming will only do so much.




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