Advice from a personal trainer: 5 fat loss workout mistakes & solutions

Craig Yuhas, demonstrating an overhead squat, has been working as a personal trainer for 16 years and counting. — Photo courtesy of Craig Yuhas

So here are a few exercise tips that will help tremendously if your goal is weight loss. Now, for these tips to work, you have to hear them, believe them, absorb them, and then…are you ready? You have to apply them.

I can’t count how many times over the past 15 years someone has come up to me and asked, “What should I do to lose this fat?” and then proceeded to completely ignore my suggestions because they simply did not like my answers, and would go walk on the treadmill.

In terms of fat loss, it is not about what you like, or how short or long you have before your vacation, wedding, or reunion. It’s about what works. Mother Nature made the rules, we have just chosen to make up our own.

1) Choose your resistance workout over your cardio workout if you are short on time. 15 minutes of intense weight training trumps a 30-minute jog any and every time. For more effective, quicker, and long-lasting fat loss, it’s about how your body reacts outside of the gym for the remaining 23 hours of the day as a result of your workout in the gym. It’s not about how many calories you burn while in the gym.

2) If you have time to perform both cardio and resistance training, perform resistance training first, and cardio at the end, not vice versa.

3) When performing weight training for weight loss, do not start with, or depend on exercises like arm curls, crunches, or any machine that requires you to sit to be effective. Work on exercises that use a large number of muscles, and a large range of motion, i.e. full squats, full walking lunges, squat and presses, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, snatches, pullups, etc. The bigger the engine used, the more fuel it burns.

4) Try to perform the concentric (the lifting portion or part of the exercise where you contract and shorten the muscle) as fast as possible. I’ve noticed recently that many of our members tend to perform everything very slowly. When moving fast, it’s just as — if not more — dangerous if the weights you are using are too light. Try to boost your poundage up a little so you’re not dislocating your elbows every rep. Moving slow may be fine initially when learning (or if you are performing “tempo” work, that’s another topic) but once you get the proper technique down and you’re competent, get moving and get aggressive. It is actually more about your intentions of moving fast. The weight being used may be too heavy to actually move very fast, but if you are moving it as fast as you can then you will reap the awards.

5) Keep your workouts dense and brief, as brief as 20 minutes, no longer than 60 minutes. During each successive workout, try to perform the same amount of work in less time, or try to perform more work in the same amount of time. Keep rest periods short (:10 to :60) between exercises.

To recap, perform resistance exercises that use multiple muscles through a full range of motion with speed, with minimal rest periods, first thing in your workout.

Craig Yuhas, of Oak Bluffs, is co-owner of B-Strong with his wife, Heather Neal. He has been working as a personal trainer for more than 16 years. You can read his blog at