Your Questions Answered
How much weight / fat can I expect to lose?
This question necessitates two separate answers.
Actual net weight loss is something that we rarely consider at UP because our clients’ goals are less about some arbitrary number on the scale and more visual, health and performance based.
That typically means that “fat loss” and “body recomposition” (fat weight becoming muscle weight) are the desired outcomes.
Sometimes we are presented with clients who need to drop substantial bodyweight for health purposes, but giving an actual number here would be to generalise so widely as to be wasted conjecture. In some cases it might be optimal for a morbidly obese male to drop several kg in a week, whereas many others would be best served with a number that is a fraction of that.
Fat loss is typically a more representative goal of what we do at UP, and whilst actual numbers are hard to define because a 75kg male can safely and effectively drop body fat at a different (slower) rate than a 115kg male, we usually aim for 0.5kg-1.5kg (1lb-3lb) of fat loss every week when this is a priority.
At UP we opt for far more accuracy than the scale alone can provide and use our own proprietary BodyProphet software to track body fat % changes. Our goal for most males who have the willingness to stick closely to our advice is to see a 1% body fat improvement every week.
There’s a natural slowing down of this process at the extremely lean sub 10% body fat mark, and a commensurate speeding up of the process, with 5% body fat improvement in the first 3 weeks not massively uncommon, with males in the standard 17%-25% body fat percentage range.
Can I lose fat and gain muscle at the same time?
Almost all of our new clients lose fat and build muscle at the same time. After the initial honeymoon period of rapid body composition improvements, which can be as wide as 9-18 weeks, it is often advisable to focus on one goal at a time, either fat loss or muscle gain. Some so-called “fitness experts” will tell you that it’s impossible to achieve simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain. They will claim that in order to grow new muscle you need a calorie surplus and in order to lose fat you need a calorie deficit. In actual fact, as the client results that pepper our website will testify, so long as you have the right stimulus for building muscle (resistance training that is either smarter or harder than anything you’ve done before), and higher quality nutritional intake than your norm (as we would expect all our clients to adopt once working with us on their diet plans) then the human body is more than capable of a wonderful feat of body recomposition. The more deconditioned and out of shape you are the more likely this is to happen. Conversely, the leaner and more muscular you become the harder this is to achieve and typically at around the 10%-12% body fat mark we need to look at calorie intake a bit more carefully and fat loss needs to be prioritised over muscle gain until the desired body fat levels are achieved.
How many times a week should, I train?
Your results are always going to in part be determined by how frequently you can exercise. Olympic athletes look the way that they do in no small part because they train so often. We know that you don’t have the time to live like a professional athlete and almost all of the results that you see on this page are from our clients training a maximum of 3 times per week. In an ideal world, we would prefer that approximately 25% of our male clients come to the gym 4 times every week, whereas the other 75% do not have the lifestyle or hormonal recovery abilities to get the benefit from anything more than 3 times per week of hard gym work. Recovery sessions such as outdoor walks, swimming and Yoga are all great additions to the standard 3-4 times a week UP training session.
What is the best diet for fat loss?
There is no magic diet for fat loss. At UP we work closely with our clients in order to come up with a highly individualised prescription that fits your goals and commitment levels. For some clients we keep it as simple as “Ten Rules To Live By”, whereas others like to keep daily online food trackers based on a range of UP weekly meal plans that they review several times a week with their trainer. Our motto is that the best diet is the one that you can stick to at the time.
How many meals should I be eating per day?
Total daily and weekly calories, and the overall quality of your nutritional intake, will always be a far more important factor for fat loss than how many meals a day you eat. We typically advise a client to consume nutrients 4-5 times a day, but please pay attention to how this has been phrased. 4-5 meals a day may be both ideal and practicable for some men, but many of us have neither the time nor inclination to do this so a couple of the meals on a UP meal plan may be something as simple as handful of almonds and an apple, or a protein shake with added fats from avocado or coconut oil.
How many meals should I be eating per day?
We actively advise against “taste bud boredom” because in the long run it makes your dietary adherence that much harder to put into practice. Are there foods that we strongly advise are temporarily off the menu when maximal fat loss is the goal? Yes, because there may not be room for empty calories with zero nutritional benefit, or you may be the person who can’t stop at one chocolate bar or just one pint of beer. Ultimately your diet is highly individualised, so in conjunction with your trainer you can make it as varied as you wish within the confines of your goal and temperament.
What is the best exercise for fat loss?
First of all lets accept that all exercise is good and no proponent of one training modality should bash the proponent of another training modality. However, we must also accept that some forms of exercise are much more time efficient for ramping up your overall metabolic rate and for improving your body’s hormonal status so that you can better handle the food that you eat. The number one form of exercise for this is resistance / weight training. This is why when you walk into any UP gym anywhere in the world what you will not see is scores of treadmills and stair masters. If these were the most effective exercise tools for fat loss then this is what we would use, as our raison d’etre is to maximise time efficiency for our busy clients who expect to achieve results, with just a handful of hours of exercise over weeks and at most months of time, that the majority strive in vain for over years of fruitless effort and wasteful gym memberships. The tools of our trade at UP are there because they are the most malleable (we can adapt them to any goal – fat loss, muscle building, endurance, speed, relative strength, rehabilitation) and controlled forms of exercise in the world. You will find weights, exercise machines, bodyweight training apparatus, stationary sprint bikes used by the British Olympic Cycling Team (the most successful cycling team in Olympic history), and our famous red sprint tracks that we rarely employ for running and instead use for such fun sounding activities as prowler pushes and farmer’s walks.
How much cardio should I do?
For fat loss to occur you need to use more energy than you consume, meaning you need to be in a calorie / energy deficit. However, the calorie deficit does not have to come entirely from food. Adding some cardiovascular work to expend more energy rather than restricting your energy intake alone could also be useful. Again, it all boils down to the individual’s goal, body type and time frame. Balance and moderation is key when it comes to cardio, and we prefer our clients to start off at the lower volume end until we can assess how their new diets and resistance training programs are working. One quick point to add is that the UP style gym training is almost always a massively cardiovascular workout in its own right. It’s a common myth that weight training doesn’t exercise the heart – anything that gets you out of breath and is physically demanding can count as a good ‘cardio workout”, and many of our long term clients opt exclusively for resistance training “cardio workouts” over traditional steady state exercise such as jogging. Their body shapes and their doctors’ feedback are testaments to the benefits of this!
HIIT or Steady State Cardio? Which one is best?
The one that is best for you is the one that you can stick to consistently. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is more efficient in terms of time spent doing it and calories burned afterwards. However, the benefits of HIIT can only be had if you can actually perform HIIT to the level required. It’s an all-out maximum effort and many people just starting out on an exercise regime may struggle to achieve that high level of intensity. Additionally, you may not have the required fuel to perform HIIT optimally, or after performing HIIT you may be extremely hungry. Slow steady state cardio may be a good option if you are new to exercise or you’re on restricted calories. As ever it all boils down to the one you can fit into your daily / weekly schedule and the one you can do consistently whilst still seeing results. Many of us enjoy long “steady state” walks in the countryside for example, and the health benefits of such an activity go way beyond simple fat loss. If I do sit ups or abdominal crunches every day, will I get a six pack? Abdominals are muscles just like any other and need to be trained effectively if you are to have a visible, sculpted six pack. However, if you are not training the big muscles with the big exercises, and your nutrition is not on point then training your abs will be ineffective. If your training and nutrition are correct, you may see the benefit of more direct abdominal training. The great thing about abdominals is that they can be developed quite easily in a matter of months. The hard part is that the diet and the fat loss needed to reveal them is the bigger challenge for all of us!
What supplements should I take?
Supplements are exactly as their name describes – supplementary. We do not ever advise supplements until and unless you are willing to work with us on getting your diet in order first. And if financial budget is a consideration then we always prefer that you invest it in good quality food above expensive nutritional supplements. That said, every UP client takes our BodyProphet skinfold and software analysis and the results from this allow us to take into consideration lifestyle factors such as stress, sleep, inflammation, gut health, and any potential nutrient deficiencies. From here, we will devise a specific supplement protocol with specific dosages, to ensure the fastest results in the minimum amount of time.