How Insulin Can Improve Your Workouts, Result In Weight Loss

Using your insulin efficiently can maximize health and fitness benefits. Try this strength training and cardio guide.

Dr. Steven Willey

We know from a lot of research that the type, order, variety, and progression of your exercise make a big difference in your results. Why? Because how you exercise makes a big difference in how your body uses the hormone insulin.

Insulin is the hormone your body uses to store fat. After insulin carries enough glucose into your cells to meet their needs, it takes whatever glucose is left over and carries it off to be stored as fat.

For peak health and fitness, you want to use your insulin as efficiently as possible.

This means that your body will produce just enough insulin to meet your energy needs—and no more. That’s where exercise comes in. You’ll use your insulin most efficiently if you mix up aerobic exercise with a specific and effective pattern of strength training.

Simple Cardio Plan

  • Aim for cardio work three times a week for 20 to 25 minutes. The best time to exercise is whenever you can, but if you can squeeze it into your evening, some studies are now saying so much the better for burning calories
  • For better results, do your cardio in intervals by varying the intensity during your workout. You might ride the exercise bike at low to medium resistance for a few minutes, for example, then set the resistance higher for another few, then drop back down and continue this pattern until you finish off your session.
  • Do your cardio exercise after your strength training for the best results
  • You can gain a big advantage in achieving your desired weight and optimizing your insulin efficiency by following the proper strength training regimen in just 20-25 minutes three times weekly.

The Strength Training Plan

  • For beginners, try this approach: The first two weeks consists of circuit training all seven parts of the body (legs, back, chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and calves).
  • You should perform one set of 15 repetitions for all the body parts at a weight that is about half of what you think you could do once, and then repeat one more time through at 12 repetitions where the last two reps require a good effort.
  • Intermediate Level: If you have some experience, or have completed the first two weeks as above, you should divide the body into two working groups (chest, shoulders, triceps) and (legs, calves, back and biceps).
  • You will alternate which group you exercise each time you do resistance exercise. You will do two exercises for the same body part consecutively rather than moving on to a different body part after just one exercise.
  • Complete 3 sets of one exercise and then 2 sets of the other, for a total of 5 sets per body part. Continue with 15 reps for the first set and 12 for the second as above. After 4 weeks of this, you will be ready to maximize your insulin efficiency even more.
  • For the long term, you should divide the 7 body parts into 3 groups, and strength train each body part once a week. Men will do 6 sets per body part between at least two exercises, women will do 5 sets. The exception is calves, men will do 3 sets, and women will do 2. Perform 15 repetitions for the first set, 10 for the second set, and third, when applicable. Legs and calves are done a little differently; the last two sets should be 20 repetitions. The last couple of reps should be a bit of a challenge for all body parts.
photopiano / 123RF Stock Photo

photopiano / 123RF Stock Photo

For the best results, you will need to constantly vary the exercises you choose, how you order them, and how you divide the three groups. This can be quite challenging to keep track of, but you can make it easy if you use the youplus (YOU+) app. When you first sign up, the app asks you targeted questions that determine your level of fitness and your fitness goals. The app will then customize a program for you whether you are a beginner or an advanced exerciser and serve as your personal trainer week by week and show you exactly what your program should be and exactly how to do it. The app also provides the proper nutrition and sleep approach to maximize your insulin efficiency, as well as feedback based on your input to help you continue to improve.

Team Leader and Chief Scientist of You Plus, Dr. Steven Willey has been practicing internal medicine for 20 years at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Illinois, a medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School, and attended Stanford University to complete his medical internship and residency. He also acts as the Medical Director at Maryville University. You Plus is available on and  Access the app on Apple IOS, or online.  The Android version will be available in April 2015.    Reprogram Your Life can be ordered from,, and Connect with Willey at