If you’re looking for a no-nonsense dose of reality to lose weight and get in shape, then look no further than Jillian Michaels. The former The Biggest Loser trainer was known for her tough-love attitude and ability to whip anyone into shape. Now, with a podcast and a workout app called My Fitness by Jillian Michaels, the super strong trainer still reaches millions of her fans.
Luckily for us (and for you!), Jillian has given us some exclusive interviews where we grilled her about the best ways to lose weight, shed fat, and build lean muscle. Here are the best tips, straight from Jillian herself. Whether you’re just starting out on your journey or a gym rat who wants to tone up even more, Jillian has some invaluable information that will benefit you. Scroll through some of her best tips and get inspired to make a change today.
Eat in a Calorie Deficit
“If you have weight to lose, you need [to be in] a calorie deficit,” Jillian explained. “No fewer than 1,400 [calories] a day with unlimited greens. Avoid heavily processed foods like white flour and white sugar, dial alcohol way back, and drink a lot of water.”
If you’re curious how many calories you need to eat in a day to lose weight, use this formula to find your exact number.
It’s All About the Food
“The difference between weight loss and muscle is really about food,” Jillian told POPSUGAR. “If you want to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. If you want to gain muscle, you need to have a calorie surplus.”
Although Jillian isn’t a dietitian, she recommended eating 10 percent more calories than you burn in a day to gain muscle. Registered dietitian and personal trainer Jim White, ACSM, also said to make sure you eat enough protein to put on muscle: 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So, if someone weighs 150 pounds, he or she should be eating 75 to 120 grams of protein daily to gain muscle.
Strength Time Multiple Times a Week
Most people think they need to do endless cardio to see results, but Jillian actually puts more of an emphasis on strength training.
“Lifting weights absolutely speeds fat loss because it burns more calories during and after your workout if done right,” Jillian told POPSUGAR. “Women should lift four times a week if possible. Train each muscle twice a week with two days of rest between training days.”
Although cardio plays a role in weight loss, don’t be afraid to step foot in the weight room!
Do Compound Movements
Multiple muscle group movements, or compound exercises, are exercises that incorporate multiple muscle groups at the same time.
“Exercises that incorporate multiple muscle groups at the same time not only burn more calories because they require more effort and energy to perform, but because they work different muscles at the same time, they kill two birds with one stone: you don’t have to be in the gym as long,” she said. For example, this lawnmower move (pictured) works your legs, arms, and abs.
Do HIIT Cardio
“Interval training is always going to be extremely efficient because it gets the work done faster,” Jillian explained. “You tax your body at 100 percent, so it requires less time in the gym overall. Plus, it amps your calorie burn during the workout as well as your EPOC, or afterburn. And it accelerates how quickly you get fitter because of the intensified stress adaptation response.”
Metabolic Circuit Training
Jillian recommends metabolic circuit training, which is performing exercises in succession with no rest in between moves. If you really need a rest, she said you can take a one-minute maximum break in between circuits. She also said to add a HIIT interval into each circuit.
Some examples of good exercises for metabolic circuit training include mountain climbers, burpees, and jumping rope.
Mix Up Your Workouts
Although it’s important to find a workout you actually like and will stick to, don’t get complacent in the gym — it can stall your progress and cause you to plateau.
“Anything repetitive is bad,” she told POPSUGAR. “Your body adapts and stops progressing.” She also explained that doing the same thing over and over again is more likely to cause overuse injuries.
If you’re lifting weights, focus on your upper body one day and your lower body the next. For cardio, try alternating among spinning, jogging, the rowing machine, or a HIIT class. It’s important to have multiple workouts in your arsenal to really see progress.
Stop Trying to Spot-Reduce
If you’re doing hundreds of crunches a day in an effort to blast away belly fat, you’re just wasting your time. It’s a common mistake Jillian notices.
“People think you can spot-reduce fat,” she said. “That’s the top mistake I see people make when trying to get a six-pack or flat tummy.”
Instead, losing body fat overall (including in your belly) requires a mix of eating in a calorie deficit, HIIT workouts, strength training, circuit training, and some cardio.