I’m back to working as a personal trainer in a commercial gym. Most of my clients are interested in fat loss changes vs. strength or pure hypertrophy so one of the questions I get most frequently is “how long with it take to lower my body fat by X percent?” It’s a good question that anyone who is interested in getting a trainers should ask, but the decision to buy training should be influenced by the answer the trainer gives.
In my opinion, the only answer that a trainer or coach should give is “it depends” because if they give a hard time frame they are making a huge leap of faith and assuming that a large number of variables at NEED to be controlled CAN be controlled. Controlling these variables can be extremely difficult; particularly for the individual who is new to training.
For example, burning fat is a skill and if you don’t have the skill you will need to learn it. If comes down to proper nutrition and intense movement and it is fairly safe to assume that if someone has fat to lose they do NOT have these skills (if they did, chances are they would be doing what was required and not asking for help).
Learning proper nutrition is fairly simple because a good trainer or coach will be able to offer sufficient guidance to their clients to allow them to move forward quickly – the truth is that you only need to eat correctly, you do not need to understand why you need eat a particular way.
Learning how to move with the intensity that is required to shift your body away from being a fat storing machine to a fat burning machine is more challenging because it requires a trainee to push themselves harder than they ever have before and for longer durations than what they are comfortable with. Working out for fat loss is TOUGH physically and mentally and the decision to stop early or before the intensity has been reached is too easy. Frankly, if you don’t know how to do it, there is a very good chance you will not learn it on your own because you may think that you are going to die – you will feel pain in your muscles and lungs that is so completely out of the ordinary that you will likely believe that it is an indication of injury or impending death. But, in most cases, if you are healthy, NOT working this hard will lead you to an earlier grave than doing what is needed to shed the fat.
How longs does it take to turn your body into a fat burning machine? Well, in most cases it’s going to be about 2-3 months before you see any significant fat loss that is associated with intense movement vs. nutritional changes. If your trainer says that it is going to happen in a few weeks they may not be telling you the truth or they may be making the assumption that you already know how to do it. If you have never done it before, it’s going to take you a while because fat loss is a skill.