Welcome back to our monster 3-part series on manipulating steps for fat loss!
Part 1 focused on why we should manipulate steps when dieting, whilst part 2 focused on when to manipulate steps. Today, we’re going to focus on putting everything together and how to manipulate steps when dieting.
This sounds easy enough but from experience, this is often where it’s easy for coaches to go wrong with steps. Yet, if we manipulate steps strategically when dieting we can position our clients for amazing results. So, let’s dive into part 3/3 of our step manipulation series.
Now, we can attack step manipulation during a dieting phase a few ways, with the main considerations centred around:
1/ The size of the step target increase
2/ Reactive vs proactive increases
Let’s now unpack both of these considerations in more detail and finish with a practical example to bring everything together.
The Size of the Step Target Increase
To achieve sufficient fat loss rates, we need to create a calorie deficit, which can be done by altering both sides of the energy balance equation (calories in vs calories out).
Whilst steps can help alter energy balance, to achieve good fat loss purely from a step increase, we would need a major increase in steps! I’ll save you the pain of diving into the calculations, but let’s just say this is more than you likely think and would add a considerable time cost too.
Yet, we can use a combination of strategy changes when distorting energy balance. So, we could simultaneously decrease our calories in, whilst also increasing your calories out. Together, the energy balance distortion would be a greater and superior fat loss rates should occur.
Thus, when pondering the size of the step increase, first think what other strategy variables are being changed too. Plus, how is the client progressing relative to the desired rates of loss.
If making combo strategy changes which are more regular too, smaller step increases would likely be appropriate. Conversely, if less frequent changes are made then bigger step increases may have more value.
Reactive vs Proactive Step Increases
Now, when it comes to when to make changes as a coach by increasing our clients’ steps, we can do so either proactively or reactively.
Proactive step increases involve a coach making pre-planned step target increases every few weeks. So, here you understand that some metabolic adaptation will kick in during the diet, but instead of waiting till it does, a change is proactively made. Whilst these can help the dieting outcome, it’s a less personalised way to make changes.
Reactive step bumps are based off the client’s progress, along with your interpretation of their subjective biofeedback. Here a step increase can be made either in response to a weight loss plateau, or to counter one ahead of time when a slowdown has been observed. So, reactive changes are more personalised to the unique individual’s dieting response.
To showcase step manipulation in action, below is an example of how you could proactively manipulate your clients’ daily step target over a 12-week dieting phase.
- Pre-dieting norm: 7,000 per day
- Weeks 1-3: 8,000 per day
- Weeks 4-6: 9,000 per day
- Weeks 7-9: 10,000 per day
- Weeks 10-12: 11,000 per day
In this scenario, we’ve made consistent and progressive changes every few weeks to counter any potential metabolic adaption. Doing this aims to ensure the client keeps losing well over time, rather than just hoping that what initially worked at the start of the diet will always keep working.
If we look closely at the example here, the changes made are only small from a phase-to-phase and it would be roughly 10-minutes worth of extra movement per day. However, from start to finish the change is much bigger, with it equating to 4,000 steps per day and roughly 40-minutes extra activity.
Would this aid the fat loss process? Yes.
But would other changes need to be made too? Most likely!
Plus, would all clients have sufficient time to punch out an extra 40-minutes of walking, on top of their training and meal prep? Maybe, but maybe not!
Whilst it’s helpful to see these changes mapped out above, remember that this is just an example and energy balance can be distorted numerous ways. Plus different people adapt at different times and to varying degrees.
So, there you go, we have now covered the why, when and how behind steps for fat loss! The take home message is to view steps as a tool we can use to support the dieting process, but the amount needed should evolve over time and be adapted to the client.
Thanks for reading,