The simple (and complex) answer is that there is no “best way” to lose fat. Each individual will respond differently to a training program. However, there are some principles we can apply when putting together an exercise programme, which ensure that you get the most “bang for your buck” when it comes to your time spent in the gym. For example, a good weight training programme will help you build muscle, which will in turn help your body become more efficient at burning calories. Also, replacing traditional, steady state cardio workouts with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) will reduce the amount of time your workouts take, whilst yielding greater fat-burning and muscle-preserving results.

Whether or not you will get bigger muscles (hypertrophy) depends on three basic factors: genetics, gender and training intensity. Genetics is mostly manifested as muscle fiber type; people with predominantly fast-twitch fibers acquire larger muscles more easily than people with predominantly slow-twitch fibers. Gender plays a big role in muscle-building potential because while testosterone levels can vary quite a bit between individuals, women as a rule, usually produce considerably less testosterone than men. Testosterone is the primary hormone responsible for building muscle so therefore men usually have more natural muscle-building potential. Training intensity is another important factor (you’re not going to build 18-inch biceps by curling those little, pink 0.5s for 10 reps)

Genetics also plays a role in whether or not you can obtain a flat stomach or a “six-pack” look to your abdominals. Having said that, two types of exercise can help: strength training and cardiovascular exercise. The abdominals are just like any other muscle group: For their definition to become visible, they must grow larger and the fat that lies over them must decrease.

For best results in your cardio training, try to do schedule your sessions separate from your weightlifting program. So if you lift weights 4 times a week, then do cardio on the other three days that youre not lifting weights.

Just remember try to schedule your cardio session as far away as possible from your leg lifting schedule, because running on sore, tired legs will be extremely difficult, and somewhat counter-productive. Doing cardio on separate days than weight lifting ensures that you have the proper energy to perform your best in either your cardio or lifting session.

If you cannot then do your cardio after your workouts at least. The reason being that weight lifting doesn’t usually deplete your glycogen stores as bad as intense cardio workouts, depending on how intense you go.

So you still will have some of your glycogen stores left meaning that you can still get a half-decent cardio session in. But for a more effective cardio session right after a workout, I recommend waiting at least 2 hours, or even more (If you have the time to do this) before doing your cardio.

In between this time it is important you replenish your glycogen stores quickly, and stop protein breakdown as fast as possible. But if you dont have the time it is still alright to do it right after weights. Just be prepared to have a less effective cardio session.

You do not need dietary supplements unless you have a documented vitamin deficiency or you do not eat a balanced diet. Using supplements as an alternative to a sound diet can lead to serious deficits in the consumption of other nutrients (Benardot et al. 2001).

Target heart rate—the heart rate range used to determine the desired intensity of an activity—will differ depending on the goal of the workout. You can calculate target heart rate using a percentage of your maximum heart rate  (HRmax), which can be predicted by subtracting your age from 220, or by measuring your heart rate while you perform a maximum exercise test.

Ignoring the effect of gravity in creating resistance during all movements, free weights (dumbbells and barbells) keep the resistance on the muscle constant throughout the joint’s range of motion (ROM), while weight machines use variable resistance, with the resistance changing throughout the ROM.

Soreness results from high force production when an exercise is new or a load is greater than normal. Furthermore, eccentric muscle contractions (in which the muscle lengthens, as when lowering a weight) cause more soreness in the days following the workout than either isometric contractions (in which the muscle does not change length, as when holding a weight) or concentric contractions (in which the muscle shortens, as when lifting a weight).

One of the biggest exercise myths is that you can lose fat in an area of the body by strength training or exercising that specific body part. The truth is that “spot reducing” and “spot toning” do not work, because we cannot dictate from where our bodies will decide to oxidize fat, nor can we change fat into muscle.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), you should exercise 20 to 60 minutes, three to five days a week for health/fitness promotion (ACSM 1995). Exercising only three days a week may be enough for previously sedentary individuals to improve their fitness, but it will take more exercise to see further improvements.