Author Archives: admin
Author Archives: admin
Looking for an easy way to lose some unwanted fat? Don't eat. Skipping meals is one of the best options for losing unwanted pounds.
Sounds easy enough but this message almost always brings the critics out and ultimately discourages a workable and easy solution to a difficult problem.
Lets examine the method and the objections.
Losing fat should be the goal of anyone trying to lose weight. When you drop pounds, you lose muscle or fat (we don't care about water weight) and muscle should always be preserved on any diet plan.
With this in mind, we simply need to follow one, primary rule to lose fat; You must expend more energy that you take in. Calories are energy and you have to use up more energy than you consume. Its really this easy.
Forget Atkins, Weight-Watchers, Jenny Craig or doing all those torturous hours of physical labor on The Biggest Loser. Its simple math. Play more and eat less. Add some good regular quality sleep to the equation and you're on your way.
Most people are surprised to learn that cardio machines aren't even required to lose fat. You can be carrying an extra 300 pounds of fat and get as slim as you want by simply providing your body with less fuel than it requires to function every day.
If your body doesn't have the calories to burn, it turns to burning fat for energy needs.
Understand this concept and you can plainly see that occasionally skipping meals is doing nothing more than contributing to your overall calorie deficit and helping you to burn more fat.
So whats the problem? Is losing weight really this easy and if so, why the objections to not eating?
What were talking about it occasional meal skipping. Unfortunately, like anything in life, some people take this to extremes and it becomes harmful.
Skipping one meal a day will help you achieve weight loss, assuming you're not over-eating the rest of the day. Skipping all your meals for a few days leads to anorexia.
Critics also point out that skipping meals will cause a drop in metabolism. This is completely false and a statement based in ignorance. Research conclusively shows that metabolism actually speeds up and is optimum at 36-48 hours of fasting.
Its only after this time that it starts to dip down again, in the complete absence of food. During this time, resting energy expenditure is increased. In other words, if you're sitting on the couch watching TV, you're burning more calories. Not a bad little bonus of skipping a meal.
It should be noted that after the 48 hour mark, metabolism starts declining so its important to not push this any further. We recommend the occasional meal skipping at first and if you can handle that, extend the window to longer periods.
If you're eating at maintenance or slightly less the other six days a week, you can get as extreme as a full day fast and reap some serious benefits.
For some, this will simply be too long but for those that skip meals and get used to it (blood sugar levels normalize when food isn't constantly being eaten), skipping a whole day is not difficult at all. Stop eating at 9pm, skip the entire next day and start eating again on waking up.
Drinking lots of water and black coffee will help a lot when going this long without food.
Another problem of meal skipping is that it can cause a larger problem for people with self-control problems. Very often, when people skip a meal, the gut reaction is to pig out later on.. feeling as though they've earned the extra calories by going so long without eating.
By binging at the next meal, people tend to end up eating more than they would have had they never missed a meal.
This problem can be easily overcome by understanding that the next meal must be a normal-sized meal and without any excess in calories.
If we are aware of why were skipping a meal and the benefit it provides in reducing body fat, it becomes psychologically easier to achieve.
Nutritionists will likely always denounce meal skipping as an effective means of losing weight but the evidence clearly demonstrates that it works and if you can handle the long periods of abstaining from food, you can take inches off your waist in a few short months.
The internet is filled with weight reduction and fat loss articles. Visit any fitness forum and there's a handful of pros that will tell you how to achieve your fitness goals.
Despite the nearly infinite number of different approaches and opinions, successful dieting can happen with just about any recommended diet.
That doesn't make the method superior. It more often means that Average Joe cleaned up his diet a little and started working out. This alone will always yield results.
While we applaud any individual that loses weight and accomplishes a particular fitness goal, today we want to focus on those individuals who seemingly do everything right and still cant make the scale drop.
Every forum has the success stories and every forum has the individual that simply cant make it happen. Its discouraging as hell to commit time and energy, follow the advice that is working for seemingly everyone else and see no results. Whats the deal?
There is a very specific reason why a person struggles to lose weight and it almost always comes down to this one simple fact:
You are not eating enough!
Within the context of this statement springs forth another verity that is rarely understood or mentioned. You do NOT have to eat at a deficit to lose weight!
Is that contrary to advice youve been given before? Well read on and let us explain.
Its not that you don't occasionally see the advice to eat more to lose weight.
Its that most people dont fully understand the concept of what is happening physiologically so they wont venture out and try eating more.
Not understanding leads to fear of gaining more weight and its the reason that a person already struggling with excess inches wont increase calories. I cant lose weight so you want me to eat more?! Yes. We absolutely do.
The body's metabolism is simply amazing. It involves the sum total of all chemical reactions in the body to produce the necessary energy for everything you do in everyday life.
Your hormones play the biggest role in metabolism, as they are the chemical messengers of our bodies, producing chemicals based on responses to the environment, both inside and outside our bodies.
They can stimulate or inhibit specific biological processes and that makes all the difference in gaining or losing weight.
Our understanding of how hormones work is limited at best. With over 100 hormones affecting over 100 trillion cells in our bodies, its simply impossible to completely understand how everything in the body works and how metabolism is affected.
Leptin is a perfect example. One of the major influence on body fat, leptin wasn't even discovered until 1994.
Its a hormone excreted by fat cells and the amount in your body is proportional to the amount of body fat you have.
The fact that such an important hormone was just recently discovered is very telling in how much more we have to learn about fat loss.
What we do know is that having a high metabolism is a good thing. The higher it is, the more quickly your body burns fat and when were talking about weight loss, we should all only be concerned with fat loss.
Anything else is a loss of muscle and that's bad. A high metabolism is also ideal for adding muscle or maintaining it, at the least.
Did you know that the primary reason for a decline in metabolism as we age is a change in body composition? In other words, people quit caring about themselves so the body quits responding like it used to.
And when things get bad and people finally get fed up with being fat, they often gravitate to a very low calorie diet (VLCD) in an attempt to remedy the situation.
The greatest fallacy of modern day dieting is the belief that a drastic reduction of calories will result in greater weight loss. It simply doesnt work that way.
When energy output (physical activity) exceeds energy input (calories eaten), you will lose weight. But when there's a drastic drop in calories, the body senses a shortage and those hormones all kick in to lower metabolism.
A lowered metabolism means that energy demands are far less and your body will use calories more efficiently, storing fat at every possible opportunity.
Imagine lighting a room at full power and then going to a small backup generator for power. A room with a lot of lights will not shine nearly so bright when power is reduced. The energy is still dispersed throughout the entire system but the throughput (metabolism) is reduced to allow for this.
Cutting calories drastically is an attempt to use more energy (burn fat) when less energy is available. Its bad science and a bad idea.
A better method is to slightly lower calories from your TDEE or Total Daily Energy Expenditure (your BMR + energy required to perform daily tasks) and operate with very nearly the same throughput (metabolism).
Its far easier for your body to burn fat and the diet is much easier to sustain long term.
But there is an even better way to lose weight and burn fat!
You should eat slightly above your TDEE and use exercise to create your daily deficit of energy. This allows your system to function at an even higher rate of power than needed.
Your metabolism is increased, allowing you the excess energy to exercise and fat burning is absolutely optimal. Your body has to burn fat as your total daily energy output is greater than input and all the while, you're supplying more throughput!
It gets even better. Growth hormone is released in much greater supply when you're eating more calories than you require in a day. Fat cells have growth hormone receptors and are then stimulated by this hormone. As this happens, the result is two-fold:
Growth hormone (GH) is also increased through weight training but it is decreased through long steady-state endurance training, such as jogging so lift more to burn fat.
GH is one of your best friends in the fight against fat so use this weight loss technique to stimulate the most possible growth hormone and lose all the more weight.
This is the position every gym trainer should be taking in helping you to lose weight. Unfortunately, the internet is alive with wanna-be trainers that claim to know it all and cite meaningless studies to back their personal bias.
Its quite common to see a recommendation of cutting calories by as much as 50% or more in an effort to lose weight.
And if that doesn't work, these so called trainers or forum friendlies will allege that you aren't counting calories correctly, not putting in the required work or that you need to reduce calories further!
New problems arise, such as hypothyroidism, chills, lack of sexual desire, lethargy, muscle loss (since fat is being preserved for energy), nutrient loss, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, muscle cramps, tooth decay, the inability to eat regular-sized meals again without easily putting on fat You get the idea.
For women, a very low calorie diet can even affect hormones that are important for getting pregnant at a later time.
If your trainer wants you to go on an extremely low calorie diet to lose weight, run as fast as you can. Its a sure sign of someone who doesn't know his/her job well.
There's only two real secrets that you need to know when you're wondering why you're stuck and cant lose further weight. These two rules are all you need to achieve all your fat loss goals and get as lean as you would like to be.
Thats it! Strangely, its not the popular opinion online but it should be and after you start seeing the pounds fall off while eating far more food and enjoying your diet, youll wonder why you ever had a difficult time dropping weight.
If youre unfamiliar with them, cheat days are designated days whereby dieters can take a break and eat anything they want.
The idea is two-fold, in that youve watched your calories all week so one day isnt going to hurt you and its also intended as a psychological break from continually depriving yourself of calories in an attempt to burn fat.
Heres an actual post I saw on my Facebook stream this weekend and whats led to my current rant.
"Loving the weekend. Today was my cheat day and Ive made the most of it! My husband and I had McDonalds pancakes for breakfast and were enjoying a Texas Roadhouse dinner with drinks right now. Were going to hit the movies after this. I have to have my tub of buttered popcorn before my cheat day is over! lol. Its a lot of food but Ive worked hard this week so I deserve it!"
While many people can instantly detect the problem here, there are probably even more people who dont have a great enough understanding of how fat loss works and they instantly buy into the eat all you can for one day lifestyle.
In this girls defense, shes not entirely at fault here because she doesnt know any better and shes merely following a program thats being given to her.
She's been posting for the last few weeks about her happiness in finally getting a personal trainer and getting back in shape. Shes quite exuberant with her new fitness posts and she appears to be doing everything shes being told.
Shes sticking to the plan.. as it were.
I say shes not entirely at fault because she did make one large mistake in that her personal trainer is a girl she knows who works out a lot but has no certifications or background in training. That's a pretty bad way to approach things.
The trainer is a very slim girl that has obviously never had to deal with excess fat and has never been challenged to lose that extra flab. From my birds-eye view of the situation, it appears that this trainer is handing out advice to her first-ever client.
She's enjoying it so much that she has launched her own fitness page and has almost 10 likes.
Have you seen those Craigslist photographers that offer professional services and discount rates? When you view a sampling of their portfolio, its usually quite clear that they've never had a day of instruction in the way of composition and lighting just to name a couple of major problems.
The world of fitness trainers has become much like this. There are far too many unqualified individuals handing out fitness advice that will have you pulling out your hair and wondering why you aren't seeing results.
Just because someone else is lean and/or in good shape does not mean that person has the slightest idea of what it takes to help you lose fat.
Most often, this is a person who has either never had a problem with overeating or has a high metabolism (age obviously plays a huge role here) and has never had to worry about fat loss.
Don't get fat loss advice from unqualified individuals.
Your body uses a specific number of calories for all your bodily functions and the extra energy you
expend every day.
This number is known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) and it is unique to you. If you exceed this amount of calories, the excess amount of calories will be stored as fat.
Our bodies are constantly storing and releasing fat all day long. Imagine an ocean of water where the tide rolls in and rolls out all day long and collects and deposits trash on the shore as it does so.
If you eat too much too much, you get more trash on the shore. If you eat less, more of it is carried away.
If you have a cheat day where you eat all you want, you simply put a lot of extra trash on the shore and it will take that much longer for the tide to carry it all away. You cant litter the shore on Friday and expect less trash when Saturday rolls around.
If you weigh 180 pounds, work a desk job and make it to the gym three times a week, you might burn 2,000 calories a day.
If you eat twice that amount on Sunday, because that's your cheat day, you will be contributing to overall body fat. There's no way around that.
If Monday is the day after your cheat day and you decide to hit the treadmill an extra 30 minutes, you might burn 500-600 calories of that surplus but to rid your body of that fat, you'll absolutely have to spend the next few days in a caloric deficit and you'll simply be playing catch-up all week burning away the same fat that you worked so hard to get rid of the week before and brought back during the weekend.
As Ive discussed many times before, losing body fat is simply a matter of expending more energy than youre taking in eating less and moving more.
When it comes to fat loss, I always make it a point to find out about a persons goals and expectations before prescribing a methodology. I always find two very different wants and needs when it comes to fat loss.
There are those who are simply desire losing weight and seeing the scale drop and there are those who are adamant about not losing any muscle during the process.
The latter is always the best approach and is going to ensure that your body looks its absolute best when you reach your desired goal.
Counting calories is the best way to learn about fat loss and chart your progress. For an overweight man of 180 pounds or more (and I dont care how much more), I make it easy. Simply eat 2,000 calories a day and ideally, get one pound of protein per pound of body weight.
Don't fret about going 20 grams over or under just be in the general area every day.
Forget about your macros meaning the amount of carbohydrates and fats you're getting. Just simply stay under your maximum daily calories and you'll get plenty of carbs and fats without getting too many.
Following this simple plan will see anyone dropping fat as almost every adult who has body fat is eating more than this on a daily basis and the surplus is being stored as fat. Cut the calories and you'll cut the fat.
When you get down under 180, simply monitor progress and if it stalls, cut calories by a couple hundred a day.
Lets get back to macros. Maybe you've heard rumors that you need specific amounts of carbs and fats as well? Ive trained over a hundred clients in the last few years and Ive yet to meet anyone that needed to adjust macros until getting body fat down to 10% or less for guys and 15% or less for women.
Feel free to adjust macros if you like but its completely unnecessary (and unwarranted) if you have average body fat levels or more.
Get your protein and mix up the carbohydrates and fat while simply watching your calories.
Diets usually fail because many people simply dont like the idea of eating clean for the rest of their lives. They envision a future without ice-cream and pizza and that just sounds like hell.
Maybe a little body fat isnt such a bad trade-off they'll subconsciously ask themselves? Before they know it, a little body fat soon grows to unacceptable proportions.
If you've worried about forever giving up your favorite foods, lose that mindset. As total calories are all that matter when it comes to losing weight and losing body fat, you need only eat less calories than you expend every day and you can fit any food you desire into this daily calorie allotment.
Another strategy is to think only of cheat meals and not cheat days. Cheat meals are great for the body and they're a wonderful psychological boost but work them into your total calorie equation.
Eating three cheat meals in one day isn't a great idea unless you have the fortitude to fast the next day and that's certainly a strategy that will work if you fall off the wagon while enjoying an entire day of calories and junk food.
There's a trend that's happening online and in the gym and its only getting worse. People are turning to genetically gifted guys for advice on how to lose fat and get ripped.
I talk to a lot of people online and in the gym and Ive long noticed that such individuals usually have the strongest opinions but know the least.
I'm not dogging on the strong, fit guys but the fact is that since they typically have to do the least amount of research to get the best results, they usually make the worst advice givers.
Genetically gifted individuals will always be ripped in spite of their diet and very rarely because of it. If you're trying to emulate what they're eating, youre not likely to get the same results. They rarely have to watch what they eat and those who do eat well will insist that they've found the secret to getting lean and they will implore you to follow the path they're taking.
If your goal is fat loss, take advice from the guy that has lost a lot of fat, has a now great physique and has to work hard to maintain it. That's your best resource, if you want to take advice from a non-professional.
Just remember that in the diet equation, you dont have to give up cheat foods. Id highly recommend giving up cheat days though and watch those calories. Nothing else matters as much as total calories.
Enjoy those twinkies.
It's the antithesis of fitness a desk job that has you spending the majority of your adult life in a padded chair while leaning over a computer keyboard and staring into a dimly lit monitor. Our hunting-gathering ancestors would be shocked.
I honestly cant think of many less healthy way to spend your adult years, but millions of us do it because we have to.
Its not the desk job that will kill you. Its becoming too comfortable in that space so much so that exercise is but a distant memory of the days when you were a strapping, young lad and the world was your oyster.
In truth, its just far too easy to get comfortable in our roles as we grow older. Exercise becomes a bit more difficult as we tend to get hurt a little easier and our energy levels arent what they once were.
The mental aspects of exercise are no less appealing. For many, it takes a stronger conviction to make it to the gym when its less about bodily aesthetics and more about good health. For those who are equally as concerned with looking the best they can, the results are often less that they were able to achieve in their twenties. Testosterone isnt quite what it used to as you grow older.
The entire process can be disheartening but it shouldn't be.
Part of this process is simply learning to grow older gracefully but that doesn't mean that you should accept anything less than the best version of yourself. You can achieve some pretty remarkable fitness results at any age, besting any preconceived limitations and achieving extraordinary results with nothing more than a strong desire and conviction.
The other part is realizing the in numerous benefits of exercise. Its about far more than just looking good. The really important reasons are happening inside our bodies, at a physiological level.
With every exercise performed, the body is restored to a younger state and overall health is improved. A consistent approach to exercise is proven to add years to a persons life and not just any years, but high-quality, live life to the fullest years.
We spend the majority of our youth neglecting health to gain more money, only to spend the golden years spending that money in an attempt to restore our youthful health.
So if you're a desk jockey who has settled into the habit of your 9 to 5 comforts, consider breaking out of the mold and improving your overall health with some daily exercise. You dont even need to hit the gym to improve your health.
An interesting culture has emerged where I work hall walking.
It started off with a 65-year old male who made a trip to the emergency room because he had been experiencing chest pains. He was told that he was at risk for a heart attack and for the first time in over twenty years, he decided to embark on a new fitness journey.
Every day, for well over the last year, this gentleman spends his breaks and lunch periods speed walking the halls at work. After doing this for only three months, his doctor informed him that he had shown improvement in almost every area of his health and he could feel the difference it was making.
His cholesterol was down, his weight dropped, his arthritis pain lessened, his thyroid level showed improvement and he no was longer short of breath when simply climbing a set of stairs. Just last weekend, he hiked a local nature trail with his grand-kids and proudly confessed walking a distance of over three miles.
On seeing the changes of this man, several people started walking with him. We now have a group of about 5 to 15 people (depending on the day) that participate in speed walking every day. This man has greatly improved his health, changed his life and is responsible for improving the health of many others around him.
On the really pretty days, this group will walk the neighborhood and enjoy the sunshine. Fitness can be fun.
But lets say you dont have adequate walking space where you work. What else can you do? Surprisingly, a lot.
One of my personal favorites is to find an unused conference room and knock out a few sets of push-ups during a break. I do this a couple times a week on the days I dont go to the gym. You could throw in sit-ups or planks, as well. I love the solace of doing a few sets in an empty room at work. It all contributes to better health and a better body and it beats the hell out of hitting the vending machine for another candy bar. Im far more invested in powering my mitochondria than adding fat to my mid-section.
If you're looking for exercises to do at your desk, you can actually get quite creative and add to your overall progress. Forbes has a great article on 10 exercises you can do behind your keyboard. Desk push-ups are a favorite of mine if I just have a couple free minutes and want to rid myself of feeling tired.
The funny thing about being fitness-minded is that you start finding other opportunities to engage in fitness activities once you start looking for them. All those moments add up. Shoot for about 30 minutes a day of physical activity. When you get home from work, take a walk around the neighborhood. Spend a little extra time picking up the yard or just mowing the grass. Look for any new opportunity to simply move your body and resist the temptation of immediately hitting the couch when you walk in the door.
Buy a pedometer if you dont have one and start looking at how many steps you take every day. Its an easy way to see how active you've been and what you're averaging in regards to just getting out and walking around.
Dont spend too much time reading though. Exercise is calling right now!
During a recent trip to the gym, I met a friend that I hadnt seen in some time and there was a lot more of him to be seen.
If I had to guess, hed probably put on 20-30 pounds since last fall, when he was last seen walking amongst the iron.
I felt a little bad for this guy, as he began defending his absence and recent weight gain without me ever mentioning either one.
It was clear that he was harboring a bit of guilt about the whole situation. I told him what I tell everyone who puts on a few pounds.
Don't worry about it. You're here now and you had a nice break. You can take that weight off in no time.
I believe these words when I say them to someone but I'm always wondering if the other person believes what I'm saying? Ive had more than a couple long breaks over the last couple decades in the gym and I always put on a few extra pounds when I take an extended absence.
In my case, it was usually due to injury but the result is still the same. I have to get back in and get to work and its never easy to start up again.
Its an easy thing to let yourself get discouraged when youve been away from the gym for a while. The strength and stamina are gone and the physique isn't what it was. It feels like a long road back, but its not!
If Im to name one thing in particular that really kicks my ass after my own personal gym hiatus, its the lack of energy. I can almost certainly tell you how my training will go on that first day back long before the day arrives.
On my Monday return, I get out of bed and excitedly grab my gym clothes for later in the day. I eat a protein-packed lunch with a reasonable amount of carbohydrates and then I finally head through the gym doors. Rather its the treadmill or the iron, I'm pooped in about ten minutes.
That's the moment that I start looking at the long road back and imagining it to be far worse than it ever turns out to be.
What I tell my clients is to focus on easy workouts for the first couple weeks (many people only need one week) and use that time to simply enjoy being back at the gym. Take it easy and go light with everything but put the work in. It simply takes a few days for the body to reacclimate to working out again.
Dont hit the gym on day one with a goal of kicking your metabolism into high gear and changing your life in one workout because you already know thats not going to happen.
In one to two weeks of working out (at four or five days a week), you'll find that all your energy has returned and that your workouts are back to normal. You'll feel amazing when you hit the gym again.
You're likely already aware that diet is the other major factor here. Don't feed the body crap all day or youll feel like crap when you're working out.
Remember the Law of Conservation. Energy cant be created or destroyed. It can only be changed from one form to another. The calories you consume are the energy sources you'll be drawing from while working out so quality counts.
Good diet check. Normal workout routine again check. That's how you get the energy you need in the gym.
So youve been on a fitness journey as of late with a goal of improving your overall body composition but you just cant burn the extra fat off your belly and love handles?
You visit fitness forums and if theres one piece of advice that everyone seems in agreement on, its that theres no such thing as spot reduction.
Its an unarguable part of the equation in trying to achieve your new body.
All those fitness forum folks will advise that you simply have to eat less if you want to see your abs. They're under there, they'll say. You just have to quit eating so much to be lean enough to see them.
Well what if we told you that was all complete B.S. (Bro-Science, right?)?
Dr. Lonnie Lowery, PhD is a former body building competitor, Exercise Physiologist and Nutrition professor.
His take on spot reduction? Not only is it possible, but its a well-utilized tool in the arsenal of every great body builder in the past.
Guys like Frank Zane and Arnold Schwarzenegger have always advocated spot reduction but for some strange reason, the fitness world writes off the immense knowledge of such individuals as having a limited view of exercise physiology, due to the historical time in which they trained and competed.
Dr. Lowery explains that every area on your body most likely to accumulate fat is an area lacking in blood flow, in comparison to the rest of your body. That's why it settles there in the first place. If you're needing proof, touch those love handles and then touch your calves or whatever muscle group is the leanest for you (guys typically have the least amount of fat on their calves).
Feel a difference in temperature? If you're still not sold, try this experiment after 20 minutes on the treadmill. Its quite noticeable!
Understanding this difference in temperature, he explains, is the key to burning that fat away. Its a fact that body fat is better mobilized when its warmed up.
Its about now that you might be wanting to see a bit more proof and Dr. Lowery cites an official study found here. The gist of the study is to examine if fat loss is affected by muscle contractions? You might find it interesting that the study concludes in determining, an acute bout of exercise can induce spot lipolysis and increased blood flow in adipose tissue adjacent to contracting skeletal muscle.
Dr. Lowery insists that he has always used spot reduction in his training and if done properly, you'll be maximizing lipolysis and finally ridding yourself of those hard to lose spots.
The first step involves warming the area that you are wanting to rid of body fat. Dr. Lowery suggests that an old fashioned tummy belt can actually work quite well for this but cautions to not tighten it down too much. You want warmth created but you always want to ensure that circulation is not impeded.
With your tummy wrap applied, engage in some form of cardio that is sure to heat the body. A treadmill works great and you only need to perform a fast walk or slow jog to get the beads of sweat started.
Now, simply perform your crunches or desired ab exercise. A great ab exercise is lifting your upper body and legs in the air, forming a V with your body and twisting your abdominals back and forth while holding a medicine ball. Feel the burn!
Dr. Lowery further advises that performing your spot-reduction exercises in a fasted state (dont eat anything that day until after youre done) is the optimum method for achieving results.
This method is best suited for guys whose body fat is in the lower teens and you'll certainly still need to achieve a calorie deficit to make it work.
The downside is no more excuses for not doing abs but isn't it exciting to know that just maybe.. you really can burn fat with spot reduction?
If youre in to lifting weights, you need to make sure that youre incorporating slow negatives into your workout routine.
Negatives are the eccentric portion of your exercise when you lower the weights. If you're bench pressing, the negative occurs as you lower the weight to your chest.
If you're curling a dumbbell, that's a positive but you then perform a negative as you lower the weight back to your hip from the top of the curl.
Do your negatives slow. Count to five as you lower the weight. Continue doing this in all your workouts and you'll notice a substantial increase in both strength and muscle size over time.
Negatives work especially well when you're trying to increase strength but have hit a plateau.
The more weight you can force your muscles to work with, the greater size increase you'll achieve.
Negatives work because the eccentric part of your exercise allows you to lift substantially more. Did you know that most guys can lower almost 50% more weight than they can push up?
Big reg flag alert Doing negatives will translate into massive gains in the gym. More strength equals more muscle.
Negatives almost always require a partner. You want to overload the weights and go low-rep. Having trouble increasing your bench press? Add the desired goal on and do negatives. Usually, two such workouts will increase strength enough to have you lifting your goal by workout three.
Your partner will need to be ready as negatives require you to lower the weight and maintain a position until failure. Your partner takes over at this point to help you out in returning the weight to its starting position.
If you're maxing out on a bench press exercise, consider having two spotters one for each end of the barbell.
There's no need to do negatives every workout though it certainly wont hurt you if you truly enjoy them. The do tend to work best for breaking plateaus so consider saving them for the times you need them most.
Negatives will give results like few other workout routines in the gym. If you've never indulged, give them a try!
As a guy, theres one bodily feature thats will guarantee you attraction from the opposite sex over all others. Most guys thing its the abs or the biceps, but its the glutes. Having a muscled up derriere will almost guarantee a second look from anyone even remotely interested.
Whats the secret to firm buttocks? Squats.
No other exercise will build leg muscle any better and if you've never worked legs before, youll see an almost immediate response.
Martin Weiss, Certified Fitness Instructor at Californias First Fitness Gym, says the squat is the single most effective exercise in building all muscles below the waist.
Nothing else works as well. You hit your glutes and quads and even your hamstrings and calves get worked to a degree. If you want want more muscle in your butt, you simply need to make sure you're going as low as possible on your squats.
We asked Weiss if it was dangerous to go too low on squats?
Until the last decade, it was widely believed that you should never go any lower than where your hamstrings are adjacent to the ground.
Thankfully, that line of thought has kind of gone by the wayside. The belief used to be that your knees would suffer by continually going too low with your squat but its since been proven that there's no risk to your knees.
If fact, for individuals who experience arthritis in their joints, flexing the joints and increasing blood flow can diminish pain. Arthritis is a far greater problem for people who dont stay active than for those who do.
Start slow when starting with squats. No other exercise will leave you as sore the next day. Consider only two sets during your first squat session.
Make sure you have a spotter someone experienced in performing this exercise, who is behind you while lifting the weight off the rack.
Lift the weight up and off the rack. Take a step or two back until youre a safe distance away from the rack. Keeping the weight on your shoulders, look straight ahead or slightly upward. Bend at the knees and keep your back straight. Dont go too low when starting out but over the course of a few weeks, dip down a little lower.
At the bottom of your bend, thrust straight up. Be especially mindful not to push the weight with your back. Dont twist your back in any way either.
All the drive should come from your hamstrings and buttocks. Repeat this repetition a few times and step forward to place the weight back on the rack again.
An individual who has performed squats over the years might need to train legs at least twice a week to see results.
Says Weiss, One of the biggest mistakes I see individuals making is trying to gain leg size by only training legs once a week.
This frequency is fine for guys just starting out but if youve trained legs for any length of time, youre going to need to get at least two sessions a week in to see results. Strangely, guys tend to train all body parts twice a week except their legs and it might be the most important muscled to train more often.
Getting big legs can dramatically change your physique for the better and if you want to see real results, do your squats. Build some muscle and then lose the fat for your best physique transformation.
Cardio for fat loss anyone? Millions do every day. Rather its hitting the machines in the gym or heading out on the open road, cardiovascular fitness training is here to stay.
Cardio is cool. Its about better health a happy heart that will ensure a better quality of life for now and all our remaining years. Its about being able to eat more of the yummy stuff large steak dinners and sugary sweets when we so desire.
Cardio burns calories burn enough of them and you can pretty much eat whatever you like without those love handles showing any effects.
So whats the best form of cardio? Does one form of cardio offer advantages over another?
Heres the thing about cardio it all contributes to better health and fitness and all forms burn calories. Whether youre interested in cardio for fat loss or better health, mixed cardio works best for getting results.
Whats mixed cardio?
Its changing your routine from day to day.
Dont just head to the gym and walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes every day at 3.5 mph. Thats a sure-fire way to ensure your body acclimates to your fitness routine.. and that means less fat burning.
The body releases fat only when youre in a caloric deficit but the body will almost always be burning a ratio of fat and muscle.
This is why its so very important to reduce calories just slightly when trying to burn fat, and eat plenty of protein while applying resistance to your muscles.
Thats the formula for burning more fat and less muscle.
By taking the same approach to daily cardio, your body learns exactly how much energy it will need to expend. It becomes easy to anticipate the demand for energy. Thats not the best road to fat loss.
Keep your body guessing. If you choose to walk one day, adjust the incline every few minutes. Add a 10% incline for a couple minutes and change the speed if you need to. Level the incline back out and jog a few minutes.
Dont stick to one form of cardio only. Your body responds best to fat loss and fitness when mixing up your routines. Jump rope, skip, do box jumps, take a spinning class, go for an outdoor bike ride, play baseball with your kids. The options are almost unlimited when you start getting creative with your workouts.
The most important factors for achieving success with cardio is getting your heart rate up and mixing your daily routine up. Buy a fitness tracking device to help you learn how many calories you burn on a regular basis.
Get in tune with your diet. Know how many calories youre eating every day. Combine this knowledge with mixed cardio and you can be certain of getting better results with your cardio routine.
Avoiding bad habits for workout gains isn’t an easy task when you aren’t aware of what you’re doing wrong. It does not pay to be over ambitious in the gym because there is no short cut to serious gains.
Regardless of training for endurance, strength training, or muscle gain, pushing yourself too hard can lead to unwarranted injury and retard the duration of your goals.
Until and unless you aren’t striving for a Mr. Universe Title, remember patience and training pays off some serious workout benefits.
In comparison, common mistakes lead to habit forming practice which is why you need to stop these 10 bad habits to make serious gains in the gym.
This is one of the most common strength training bad habits that most lifters tend to make when working out for faster gain. This is definitely not the great dual workout you perceive it to be.
On the contrary, you only deplete your body of precious energy required for some serious lifting and strength training that results in sprained muscles and no more. Too much cardio means you use up glycogen which stores carbs that release energy.
In addition, too much cardio before a strenuous workout could also place additional strain on your heart.
Instead of excess cardio, perform aerobic based strength workouts like supersetting strength moves or performing two strength exercises in succession to maintain intensity and increase your heart rate.
Try to work out as many muscles in a shorter time which builds muscle and burns calories as well. If you have to does a cardio session, keep it within strict limits and up to 10 minutes at the most.
Don’t think that a few reps of pressing and curling with heavy loads are going to build up muscle. Excessive reps can also limit your capacity to increase strength.
There are two types of muscle fibers both of which are required for improving muscle growth. Type 1 or slow twitch for endurance and energy and Type II or fast twitch for buildup of muscle mass and power bursts such as sprinting.
Research proved that lighter loads targeted type I fibers while heavy loads targeted type II fibers. It proved that working on one loading zone means you’re neglecting the other.
Your ideal aim should be 6 to 12 muscle reps that switch between light weights on the higher end and heavier loads on the lower end of the rep spectrum.
While performing single leg variations or standing on BOSU balls may increase core activation, it will never add the resistance required to maximize your strength gains especially when you’re unstable.
Do not be driven by poorly researched studies that prove benefits of instability training. While too much of it may improve ankle health, it also puts you at an increased risk of knee injury.
Instability training is best suited for upper body work such as lying on balls. For lower body training, keep your feet planted firmly on solid ground.
Commercialization of the body building and health industry is impacting the lifestyle and habits of young body builders. It’s not uncommon today for gym goers to wolf down various types of protein bars before and after training.
Fine!! Bars and powders may be good additions but such bad habits ultimately replace the goodness of fresh wholesome home cooked protein rich meals.
Eating a balance of protein, Carbs and healthy fats from freshly cooked food is integral to providing body fuel for solid workouts. Rather than protein bars, richer sources of protein can be derived from Turkey,
Chicken breast quinoa and beans which provide you with micro nutrients that increase protein synthesis of muscles and heal damaged tissue. Items like chicken breast includes amino acids like leucine.
100 grams of chicken breast will yield you 54 grams of protein and 4 grams of leucine enough to provide you maximum needs for protein synthesis.
Have you ever given negative reps their due while working out? Grabbing a weight and ripping through it in 10 seconds flat won’t accomplish much.
You may be the master in control but you need to focus on the negative rep even if it means just 2 seconds while lowering the weight. That’s an added 20 seconds of muscle tension per 10 reps.
Although it may make the next set of reps abit more difficult but that’s the whole point of the exercise.
Focus on negative reps for almost every exercise because the slower you lower the weight means you gain maximum from the workout.
Perhaps the worst of your workout bad habits is not giving your body something for recovery even though it may be crying for it.
While many make the common mistake of carrying a pre workout supplement everywhere they go, not many are habituated to taking a post workout recovery supplement.
Post workout, your muscles are begging for help to recover, instead you unleash a second onslaught on them which leads to poor performance later.
A post workout recovery supplement provides your body with vital amino acids and creatnine that help in muscle fiber repair and synthesis.
Make this a habit forming workout protocol that should never be neglected because during the muscle recovery period, new fibers are also being added to make up for the muscle loss.
In effect this is also what is referred to as protein synthesis or the physiological replenishment of muscle tissue.
If not focusing on post workout recovery is bad then fasting before training is an even worse and definitely among bad habits to avoid when working out.
Whoever gave you the idea that fasting before workouts is beneficial well!! STOP!! Fasting before workouts can lead to sluggishness, faster fatigue and even abdominal pain.
There are studies that advocate intermittent fasting for weight loss but then that isn’t related to your type of diet and training.
Published research in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition states that sufficient protein pre workout is just as important to muscle building workouts as consuming the same after a session.
For maximum workout gains, you need to consume both pre and post workout meals within 3 to 4 hours of one another. Ideally you should consume a high protein low fat meal with low fiber value one to 3 hours before a workout.
Although this may not seem much of a worry to some, it is an extremely bad workout habit that results in loss of focus.
You don’t really need a partner in a gym and there is always help at hand when you need it. Working out with a partner ultimately leads to socializing too much where idle chit chat will make you lose valuable time in working out.
Moreover it may result in you getting carried away and chatting while your partner is completing their sets.
Just because you may be eyeing that bikini instructor doesn’t mean she thinks the same way.
She may be there for serious workout goals and it would do you well to think on the same lines if you really want to see results.
If you want to get injured during your workout and get laid up in bed for a while then by all means skip your warm up. Pre workout warm ups need to be cultivated into a good habit and practiced by rote.
In case you weren’t aware of the importance of warm-up, beneficial stretches such as Active isolated stretching and dynamic stretching are serious subjects of study to help induce a healthier atmosphere for muscles during a workout.
Effective stretches as instructed by a certified trainer helps in improving limb and muscle flexibility. Moreover certain Active Isolated stretching techniques (AIS) oxygenates muscles and prepares them for the rigors of a workout.
By far the most important advantage of warm ups and stretches before a workout is to prevent injury.
This is one of the bad workout habits you need to break for maximum gains in the gym.
It is almost a common sight to see most gym goers performing core workouts at the end of a session. This results in a sloppy or shorter workout which won’t really do much for you.
It isn’t practical to expect your body to perform an efficient plank for the prescribed duration after a tiring workout.
The best way to remedy this habit is to incorporate your core workouts in-between your complete workout session.
The 11 groups of muscles in your body comprise of the biceps, triceps; shoulders, quadriceps, back, chest, forearms, abs, Trapezius, calves and the hamstrings. Weight training course can become effective for comprehensive bodybuilding when you are able to exercise all the groups alternately.
The first obvious aim of the training is fat loss. The second goal is to build the strength and endurance features of all the 11 skeletal muscle groups.
In this process you can also increase the size and mass of the muscles to a considerable extent. The procedure for weight training consists of several steps starting from the warm up, going through the reps, strengthening the weak muscles, going through reverse workouts and allowing the muscles to grow.
What is muscle mass? This is the skeletal muscle weight in pounds along with the proteins and the water content in it. The mass can increase when the muscle grows in size and volume. The fusion of muscle fibers to form new muscle myofibrils is the basic definition of muscle growth. This process increases the muscle thickness and its volume naturally.
Similarly you can focus on the other muscle groups with the proper workout using the weights. The best practice is to work with a bodybuilding coach if you wish to get the practical results from the program. You may also plan for professional bodybuilding career if you have the commitment and train.
Deadlift squat on the bench press can be extremely helpful in enhancing the strength of your muscles in the upper body. The grip you take on the Deadlift creates a great impact on the muscle strength gained during the workout.
The wide grip enhances the strength of muscles in the back, chest, shoulders, forearms, biceps and the triceps. The medium grip Deadlift on the bench consolidates the abs strength and the back along with the shoulders, forearms, biceps and the triceps. The narrow grip on the Deadlift on the bench can strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, upper back and the shoulders.
The isolation exercises list contains all the workouts for the individual muscle group in your body from the neck to the calves. They can also be used for strengthening and mass building of an individual muscle by avoiding the connected muscles.
The position of the neck muscle plays an important role in making the isolation exercises efficient. When the neck muscles are able to contract in an isometric manner the level of oxygen supply to the muscle being exercised will get controlled.
The other benefit is to enhance the strength of a specific muscle when it is unable to get recruited in the compound exercise. Isolation exercises help in stress reduction, enhanced focus, cardiovascular health improvement and complete relaxation of the muscles.
The unique method of drop sets triceps is one way of reducing the weights during the exercises with additional repetitions. Once you complete the first set, you can continue with the reps until your body reaches the point of failure.
The biggest benefit of drop set is the recruitment of the muscle fibers in all the 11 groups to the core. They help you achieve maximum muscle growth and mass gain. You can opt for single drop set or multiple drop sets depending on the intensity and the volume of weight used in the first set.
The exercises are also called as strip sets. You can apply the technique with barbells, dumbbells, bench press, squat rack, cable curls and other bodybuilding equipment.
The weighted incline oblique crunch with three drop sets is stated to be the basic exercises for the abs. Similarly you can start with maximum weight dumbbells and workout until you reach the point of failure. Then you can gradually reduce the weight in each set and continue with the reps. The technique helps your muscles to rip at the deepest levels.
The way in which you perform the drop set bulking with the dumbbells, barbells and weight machines determines the muscle ripping levels. One set of heavy weights needs to be repeated at least 4 to 5 times until the muscles hit the fatigue point. Then you can decrease the weight in gradual stages and increase the reps.
The idea is to stretch your muscles to the maximum ripping point and fatigue. This is when the muscles start growing from the existing conditions.
The drop sets are stated to be designed specifically for the bodybuilders for whom mass and size of the muscles are more important than the strength and stamina.
Of course the drop sets do provide the two qualities to the muscles, but only to certain extent. The sets of exercises with weights are useful in reaching out to the individual tissues in the muscles.
The ripping action can result in two types of muscle growth. The first one is the creation of new muscle fibers and the second one is the thickening of the existing fibers. In both the ways the net muscle mass will increase considerably over a period of time.
The bodybuilding nutrition chart contains the complete listing of the proteins, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients for the different aspects of bodybuilding.
The other elements considered are the calories, carbohydrates, and fiber. You may opt for veggies, fruits, Greenleaf, meat, poultry products and seafood to get the required nutrition.
At the same time you can also choose the best of supplements to provide these elements when the need for energy is higher. In addition you need to balance the steroids intake with the foods and supplements.
The volume of calories, carbohydrates and other nutrients gained has to be utilized in the right manner to burn fat and build the muscles. Hence you need to choose the right set of workouts which balances the food, supplements and the steroids to build your muscles to the right proportions of your choice.
Some of the basic parameters you need to consider while selecting the nutrition are the metabolism rate, body mass index, calorie and fat burning rate, nature of your body, level of activity and deficiency level. You may start by considering the nature of your body.
The relation between bodybuilding steroid and TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is one of varying proportion. The cases in which your steroid intake and protein consumption are balanced the TDEE might increase with higher levels of exercises. Once the TDEE increases, the speed of muscle mass building also goes up considerably. Hence you will be able to build better muscles within the shortest span of time.
losing belly fat is right at the top of the list for most people when it comes to fitness goals. So you’re definitely not alone.
The challenge, of course, is that there are no easy, fast, ”silver bullet” solutions to losing belly fat, regardless of what all the “Belly Fat Diet” ads say.
If you are looking for #1 way to lose belly fat, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Also, if you’re looking for the best way to lose belly fat fast, I don’t want to get your hopes up. This is going to take some work and changes on your part. But if you want to succeed …. you will.
If you really want to reduce belly fat, it really takes a combination of diet and exercise — and the most effective combination will vary considerably from person-to-person, as you’ve learned first-hand. While improvements to diet and lots of cardio might help one person get rid of their belly fat, others do better with less cardio, better diet and more weight training.
So the trick is finding what works for you. You can either accomplish this with the help of a good personal trainer (which, unfortunately, you may not have had) or you can try to go it on your own, based on what you learn about yourself and what works.
The good news is that you aren’t hopeless, and there are some pretty effective way to lose belly fat, starting today.
The first thing to understand is what causes people to put on belly fat. Once you know that, the tactics I talk about later will make a lot more sense.
While excess belly fat is now correlated with all kinds of health issues, including increased risk of heart disease, Type II Adult-Onset Diabetes and even increased chances of developing dementia, there are some physiological and evolutionary reasons that humans tend to pack fat into their mid-sections.
Fat is the body’s main store of energy reserves. While the body typically burns carbohydrates for energy first, the amount of carbohydrates your body can store is actually fairly small. So you have to be regularly eating to replenish it. Protein can also be burned for fuel, but it’s better utilized to help maintain and build tissue. So the body doesn’t like to burn it unless it has to.
Fat, on the other hand, can be easily stored for long durations and there really is no limit to the amount of fat the body can sock away for a “rainy day.” In fact, that’s why you put on body fat — it’s the body’s way of storing up energy for those times when food is scarce.
Of course, in most modern societies, we don’t face regular famine like our ancestors did. So food is plentiful, and we don’t need as much stored body fat as people did even as recently as 100 years ago. Ironically, even though we don’t need these fat stores as much, we seem to have more of them than people who did need them in the past. A lot of this also has to do with changes in activity and diet in modern society — but that’s for another post.
The human body has a pretty good reason for depositing fat in the belly and mid-section of the body: Fat also serves as an insulator, and because all of your core organs are in your torso, it’s critical that they are protected and insulated.
So the propensity to develop belly fat is programmed into everyone’s genes. But now we have heavy coats to keep us warm, so we don’t rely on belly fat as much to keep our core insulated. In other words, we’ve kind of become out-of-step with our own bodies and adaptations. And that’s why people keep seeing their waist lines increase.
The good news is that genetics aren’t necessarily destiny, so with some adaptations to diet and exercise, we can keep our bellies from getting fatter — and even make them flat.
Losing belly fat and getting a flatter stomach is about activity and calorie-intake.
Eighty percent of your progress will come from focusing on these two things. There are other little advanced tips and tricks that you can try as well, but you need to focus on the fundamentals first. The other stuff can come later.
Since we know a little bit about your specific circumstances, Elle, we’ll tailor this to you somewhat. But these are fundamental steps that anyone should take when trying to get rid of belly fat and get a flatter abdomen. And by following them, most people will experience good results.
First, let’s tackle diet and calories.
There is a direct relationship between food and belly fat. Your diet plays a huge role in packing on belly fat. And in your case, there are definitely some things you can start doing today to begin the process of whittling that fat away from your mid-section.
Remember, excess belly fat is caused by excess calories. It’s really as simple as that. Here’s how it works:
So clearly, the trick is to determine how many calories you need to maintain your current body fat levels, and then how much you need to reduce them to lose excess belly fat.
The best way to do this is to use a calorie calculator, like the one offered by the Mayo Clinic. Plug in your numbers and it will tell you how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. Then subtract 500 per day to get the amount of calories you’ll need to eat to lose one pound of fat per week. Make that your goal.
In your case Elle, at your height and current weight, you need to be eating about 1600 calories a day to lose 1 lb of fat week. Or, you can eat 1850 calories, and do 250 calories worth of exercise each day to achieve a 500 calorie deficit (250 x #2 = 500.) Make sense?
Once you know how many calories you should be eating to lose a pound of fat a week, you now need to start tracking your food and calories. Yes, this can be a pain initially, but it’s critical, since in our “Super-Size-Me” society, most people underestimate how many calories they are actually consuming each day.
This means measuring out portions — either with an inexpensive food scale or using measuring cups. You won’t necessarily have to do this forever — but at least for #3-#4 weeks until you have a sense for how many calories you are actually eating and can reset your idea of portions and how many calories are in certain types of foods.
Record your meals using one of the great free websites that allow you to track your food and exercise. Good sites include Fitday.com, The Daily Plate and Spark People.
At the end of the day, try to come in at 500 calories below your maintenance level, or in your case, Elle at around 1600 calories.
Now that you know how many calories you need each day to lose your belly fat, and you are tracking what you are eating, it’s time to clean up your diet.
This is actually not as hard as you think, especially if you start by eliminating or reducing the foods that probably caused you to get a fat belly in the first place.
Reduce or eliminate these foods first for the most dramatic results:
Okay, now that you’ve gotten rid of the worst offenders in your diet, let’s focus on the things you should be eating.
The good news, Elle, is that you are already eating a number of these things — so hopefully just getting the “bad” stuff out will put you back on track for getting that flat belly you want.
Here are a few tips with links to articles that can get you started and help get rid of your unwanted belly fat:
Okay, now that you’ve got your diet in order, let’s tackle how you can use exercise to lose that stubborn belly fat.
Like a lot of people Elle, your schedule and career makes it challenging to find time to exercise. But without it, you’re not going to get the results you are looking for.
The good news is that if you can spare three hours minimum each week, you can make some real gains in sculpting your body and losing belly fat in the process. If a person has more time available, then they may want to take a slightly different approach, most likely breaking cardio out into a separate workout day. However, I’m going to tailor this more specifically to you and your schedule and likes and dislikes.
What you’ll want to do is focus on a combination of higher-intensity cardio and heavier weight and resistance training. Here are the specific tactics you’ll use to exercise your way to a flat belly:
You admit that you hate cardio because it “bores you.” So let’s deal with reality here.
Provided you have no health issues preventing this, consider reducing the length and distance of your cardio, and instead try high intensity interval training (HIIT). This will allow you burn the same amount of calories in 25-30 minutes that you would normally burn at a lower intensity in 60 minutes.
Performing HIIT will also free up some time. This will give you 30 minutes to perform weight training, which will be critical to stripping off that belly fat. Whether you want to use the elliptical or a treadmill doesn’t really matter. It’s the intensity that you need to focus on.
At your current height and weight, you can burn around 200 calories in 25-30 minutes of HIIT. And because you spend less time doing this, you’ll be less likely to get bored.
Some research also indicates that HIIT may be more effective at burning belly fat than longer-duration, solid-state exercise. A combination of the two approaches is ideal, and can sometimes break up the monotony of cardio. If you can, perform your cardio after your weight training workout.
You can learn more about how to do high intensity interval training here.
Full-body workouts, where you work each of your main muscle groups in a single workout, three-times a week are often more effective at stripping off body fat, including belly fat, than split-routines.
A full-body workout can help boost your metabolism, release higher levels of growth hormones (which help you increase lean body tissue like muscle) and also burn more calories during exercise, because they are more intense.
They also help keep your physique more balanced and allow you to spend less overall time in the gym — which is important to you because of your schedule.
I would recommend using a modified-version of my full-body workout. Since you will only have 30-35 minutes to perform the workout — versus the recommended hour — I would try doing only two sets of each exercise: a light warm-up set and then a heavier, “working” set. This should allow you to get through it in about 30 minutes, while still achieving similar results to the more extended version. Also, make sure you are tracking your progress with a printable exercise log.
This workout will also burn about 200 calories, provided you don’t take rests between sets and exercises and keep moving. So between the weight training and the HIIT, you’ll burn about 400 calories in an hour. Not bad!
You mentioned that your trainer had you using light weights and high reps during your weight training.
I’d like you to try something different: After your light warm-up set, choose a weight that causes you to struggle to get another rep done somewhere in the 6-8 rep range. This will help you increase your strength, and will encourage you to put on a little more muscle.
Now, I know that you’re probably concerned about lifting to heavy and becoming “bulky” and that a lot of “toning workouts” say to do lots of reps, but being “toned” is really about reducing body fat levels and increasing muscle. Most women will not put on a lot of muscle, even when training with heavier weights — so set this out of your mind for now.
I know a lot of women who tried to “high rep” their way to a toned body and just spun their wheels for months or years with little progress. After switching to a lower-rep, higher-weight routine, suddenly they start to see results – including less belly fat and lower overall body fat.
One of the things you mentioned is that you are less active than when you were in college.
This is a problem for a lot of people whose careers keep them sitting in a chair all day in front of a computer. However, there are lots of little ways to burn a few extra calories over the course of the day, which can add up over the week and help you lose that belly fat and stay more fit over all:
There are a few other things you should keep in mind as you try this approach to reducing belly fat and getting a nice, flat stomach:
Remember that you won’t see dramatic results overnight — nothing can do that. But within 8-12 weeks, if you follow the advice above and make the time to workout, you’ll probably be much closer to your goals. At the six to eight month mark, you should really see some dramatic changes if you stick with this — which would be just in time for bikini season!
It’s almost impossible to pick up a fitness magazine and not find a reference to “toning your abs”, “toning your butt” or “toning your legs or thighs.”
But I’m going to let you in on one of the best kept secrets in fitness: There really is no such thing as “toning” or being “toned” — at least in the sense of what people normally associate with ”toned muscle” or a ”toned body.”
There is a concept in anatomy and physiology called residual muscle contraction or tonus, but it refers to the continuous and partial contraction of a muscle to help stabilize posture and balance. It has nothing to do with the outward appearance of your body or whether you have tight glutes and washboard abs. You can be out of shape and struggle to climb a flight of stairs and still have muscle tonus.
So what’s the story? What is this “toning” that everyone is always talking about?
At some point years ago, fitness writers, personal trainers and people who really ought to know better started using the term “toned” to describe individuals with high muscle mass to low body fat ratios. Instead of saying that an athlete, fitness model or highly-in-shape person was “lean and muscular” they started saying the person was “toned.”
Why this happened isn’t exactly clear. My theory is that the words “muscle” and “muscular” are scary and intimidating for some people, especially to many women who have been conditioned to run as fast as they can from the dreaded “M-Word.” The seemingly endless stream of articles online and in major fitness magazines instructing women how not to ”bulk up” and avoid become “muscular” via workout routines for “toning” is a major contributor to this myth.
So fitness writers and trainers started to use “toned” as a way of describing being muscular, without actually saying the word “muscular.” It seemed innocent enough, and it allowed them to not have to get into big, long, involved and uncomfortable discussions with their clients about why they should top obsessing on becoming too “bulky.”
The problem is, to get a body that fits most people’s definition of “toned”, you have to weight train. And you generally have to go heavy. And you need to put on muscle mass. And you’ll have to drop your body fat ratio. That’s the secret. Those four things. And it doesn’t matter whether you are a male or a female. It applies equally regardless of gender.
This may seem like an issue of semantics and a little thing, but it’s not. The problem is that “toned” has become a euphemism for “lean and muscular”, yet most people don’t realize that. They think “toned” is something you achieve by dieting, doing endless bouts of cardio and maybe occasionally doing some pilates or high-rep, low-weight resistance training.
So by obscuring what “toning” really means, we’ve doomed all kinds of people to pursuing toning workout routines that will likely never allow them to achieve their fitness, physique or body-shaping goals. They’ll continue to avoid any kind of serious weight training, go too light on the resistance, focus on high reps that only improve muscle endurance (not size or shape), put way too much time and attention on ”functional” exercises and try to stair-step their way to a “toned” body.
And when it doesn’t work, they’ll go seek out the newest “30 Minute Body Toning Workout” and get right back on the hamster wheel again, only to be frustrated in three weeks when nothing has changed. Maybe that’s how you sell fitness magazines and personal training sessions, but I’d prefer to think we’re in the business of helping people succeed, not just pushing services or content.
So how pervasive is this term or concept of “toning?”
It’s probably one of the most frequently asked questions in the Diet and Fitness section of Yahoo Answers — especially among women (although I do see some men using it.) Typically, it will come in the form of a question like: “How can I get toned without becoming bulky?” or “Does anyone have any toning exercises that won’t make me put on muscle.”
Of course, if they hadn’t been sold the “myth of toning” and understood exactly what that term really meant, their questions would be absurd.
I took a look at what the top searches were on Google around the term “toned,” “toning” and “muscle tone.” Here’s what people are looking for every day on Google:
You get the picture. Cumulatively, you are talking about nearly a thousand searches a day by people who have bought into the “toning myth.” They know what they are searching for, they just don’t know how to do it or what it is.
So what do they find when the do those searches?
Well, not surprisingly, they find a lot of fitness writers perpetuating the myth by talking about “workout routines to tone” this or that body part or your whole body.
I did a quick survey of the Top 10 websites for the term “fitness” on Google. Every single one of them used the term “toned” or “toning” in at least one exercise or fitness-related article.
“Look sexy in shorts: The Workout. Get your legs ready for their big summer reveal with these butt-firming, thigh-sculpting, and calf-toning moves.”
From Fitnessonline.com (via Fit Pregnancy):
“Pilates helps maintain your abdominal muscle tone, which will support your growing belly, minimize back pain and give you more oomph for pushing during labor.”
“Finally! Love Your Hips. This plan challenges them to do both, so you get a more well-rounded workout to ensure speedy results. Top off the toning and cardio with a healthy diet and you’ll see svelte hips in about a month.”
“Bodybuilders always accompany this kind of training with low-carb, calorie-restricted diets; that’s what accounts for their rapid fat loss. ‘A toned appearance is dependent on your level of body fat and muscle development,” says Jim Smith, C.S.C.S., a strength coach in Sayre, Pa. In other words, to see more muscle tone, you need to get bigger muscles and lose flab.’”
In the case of the Men’s Fitness article, you actually have a NSCA (National Strength Conditioning Association) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist using the term “muscle tone” as if it was something that actually existed, versus a purely subjective, physical aesthetic.
I’m not trying to beat up on Jim Smith, since he at least provides an accurate definition of what he’s really talking about in terms of appearances (more muscle, less fat), but why use this term at all and continue to put fuel behind this myth of “tone” and “toning?”
Here’s how I would have phrased it:
“Bodybuilders always accompany this kind of training with low-carb, calorie-restricted diets; that’s what accounts for their rapid fat loss. ‘A lean, muscular appearance with good definition is dependent on your level of body fat and muscle development … In other words, to see more muscle definition, you need to get bigger muscles and lose flab.’”
Interestingly enough, the term “toned” or “toning” isn’t used as widely by males as it is among females. Again, I think this is because men aren’t as afraid to add muscle (and it’s arguably part of the traditional male aesthetic) as women are. So we’re dealing with a fairly ingrained issue here that cuts to the idea of changing peoples perceptions of what “fit” and “healthy” is – especially when it comes to women and body composition.
Denver-based personal trainer, functional training expert and fellow fitness blogger Jamie Atlas says that he uses the term “toned” sometimes because he needs to ease clients and readers into the idea that muscle is a good thing.
“Sometimes I write to speak to people where they are at rather than where I would like them to be – which has its pros and cons,” admits Atlas. “My style is sometimes to get the person on board and THEN try to bring them around. But, yes, women shouldn’t be afraid of ‘bulking up.’”
There is again. No matter how much we agree to try to avoid that term, it keeps coming up. And that’s the problem.
Jamie does have good point, however. It’s hard to combat the fear of becoming a female-version of Conan: The Barbarian when it comes to women and weight lifting, but I offered him a friendly challenge to join me in my crusade to banish the words “toning” and “bulking” from our fitness vocabulary going forward.
If we keep writing articles that telling people how to weight train without “bulking up” — we’re part of the problem, not the solution. If you are losing fat and adding muscle you will NEVER look as bulky as you did when you had high body fat and low muscle, no matter how much muscle you add to your frame.
So if there really is no such thing as “toning”, what are people talking about when they use that term? I think the best way to illustrate this is with pictures, since things like scale weight, BMI and even body fat ratios are usually too abstract for people to get their heads-around (and they are often inaccurate, as well.)
I picked two female Hollywood celebrities – Keira Knightley and Britney Spears — and actress and fitness model Amanda Carrier to contrast against each other (don’t worry, I did the same with men.)
I chose celebrities because it seems that everyone is trying to emulate their bodies and many people view them as paragons of fitness, beauty and attractiveness (and I’m not saying this is correct, just that people have that perception.)
So take a look at them and ask yourself you most typifies the “toned” aesthetic?
First, actress Keira Knightley:
Next, Britney Spears:
And finally, fitness model and actress Amanda Carrier:
Keira Knightley is lean, no doubt, and she’s sporting a pretty good set of abs. But she is carrying very little muscle through her arms, shoulders, chest and legs. Lean? “Yes.” But “toned?” Probably not. Some people would say she is far too thin, but I’m not going to make judgments here. That’s not my point.
Britney, on the other hand, is fuller and curvier, but she’s carrying a fair amount of body fat which obscures any muscle she might have. I don’t think anyone would consider Britney ”toned” in this photo. She’ll get there I’m sure.
Amanda Carrier, on the other hand, is probably closest to what people have in mind when they think of a phrase like “toned body.” I deliberately picked a candid of Amanda from the “Rich Jerk” set so that it was apples-to-apple with the other two photos. Their is zero airbrushing, touch-up or fancy camera angles or lighting effects going on here. This is the real thing without painted on abs or enhancement of her curves in Photoshop.
Amanda is lean, like Keira Knightley, but she is packing a lot more muscle. So instead of looking straight and flat, she has great curves and muscle definition. And guess what? She doesn’t look bulky at all, despite all the muscle she’s carrying.
So let’s take a look at a couple male examples, just to make things fair.
First, professional soccer player and Metrosexual poster boy, David Beckham:
Next, actor Hugh Jackman:
And finally, former-Calvin Klein model Tyson Beckford:
So who typifies “toned” among these men?
David Beckham is lean and athletic, but he’s not carrying much muscle mass on his frame. Hugh Jackman has the muscle mass, but his body fat levels are just a little too high to probably qualify him as “toned” in most people’s books.
Tyson Beckford, on the other hand — like Amanda Carrier — is carrying plenty of muscle mass along with very little body fat. He has good definition and isn’t “bulky” at all.
No doubt there is some airbrushing or photo touch-up going on with Tyson Beckford, so the comparison with candids of celebrities on the beach might not be exactly apples-to-apples. However, there are plenty of candid photos out there of Tyson Beckford that show his natural muscle and definition without the aid of any Photoshopping.
I suspect that if you randomly chose a hundred people on the street and asked them who had the most “toned body” among these six examples, Amanda Carrier and Tyson Beckford would win hands-down.
Realize also that we’re talking about aesthetics here, and one person’s vision of the “ideal” amount of muscle will not necessarily match another’s.
Some people aspire to have the kind of crazy muscle mass that pro bodybuilders have and find that “ideal” and attractive. Others aspire to a less massive physique that emphasizes smaller musculature along with leanness — similar to what you would find on a female fitness model or male model. Others train primarily for health concerns or to improve their conditioning or sports performance, so appearance isn’t a primary concern for them (and they typically won’t be the ones doing searches on Google for “toning”)
My point is that whatever your goal is in terms of appearance or fitness, you need to specifically train for that goal. You need to find out what their workouts are, or at least understand that if your goal is to get “toned” you need to lift weights and reduce your body fat. I’ve rarely saw a person who had that “toned” aesthetic who didn’t do that.
So let’s repeat it again: A “toned body” is simply low body fat coupled with muscle mass.
You can’t have one without the other and build the physique you want. You have to have both parts of the equation. And to do that, you have to stop worrying about becoming “bulky” or overly muscular.
If you are getting too muscular for your particular goals (whether you are male or female) than it’s easy to take it down a notch. Muscle is hard to build, but it’s relatively easy to lose — just don’t work it as much, or you lower the weight and increase the reps. Before you know it, you’ll start to lose mass. But you can’t get that ”toned look” people are always talking about unless you take it up a notch in the weight training department.
So now that we’ve shown a “toned body” for what it is: low body fat and high muscle mass, let’s talk about how you can build muscle and lose body fat.
First, if you are a woman, you need to set aside your fears of getting too muscular and “bulking up” and start lifting weights. The bottom line is that most women — unless they have unusual genetics that cause them to put on gobs of muscle or are on anabolic steroids — will never build the kind of “freaky” muscle mass you see in professional female bodybuilders.
I’m not talking about the muscle you see on professional fitness or figure competitors or fitness models like Amanda Carrier or Jelena Abbou – most women with enough dedication and the right training can look like that. Rather, I’m talking about the massive amounts of muscle you see on someone lik pro female bodybuilders Kris Murrell:
Most women, no matter how heavy they lifted or how frequently they performed resistance training, would never put on Kris Murrell’s level of muscle. Most women just don’t have the hormonal environment for that kind of mass (hell, neither do I.) In fact, I’m pretty sure Chris Murrell is carrying more muscle on her than I am — and I’m a male who trains like a fiend with plenty of heavy weight.
So stop worrying about ”bulking up” – it’s probably keeping you from reaching your fitness goals and it’s inhibiting your ability to build that muscle definition and shape that you are likely looking for.
Take a close look at your cardio exercise routine: How much are you performing and for how long?
If you are currently performing 60 minutes or more of cardio a day and NOT dedicating at least three days a week to weight training, it’s going to keep you from getting a ”toned body.” You cannot run or stair-step your way to muscle (unless your are using some major resistance on the stair stepper or elliptical, and even then, your gains will be modest.)
If you are performing long-duration cardio on a daily basis along with your weight training, you are going to have difficulties adding much muscle. In fact, it may actually cause you to lose muscle, which can lead to the “fat skinny” syndrome, where you have low scale weight, but higher body-fat-to-lean-muscle ratios. This is not going to give you a tight, “toned” look.
There are exceptions, of course. For instance, if you are already carrying a large amount of muscle on your frame, you may be able to afford some muscle loss as part of an effort to strip off additional body fat with more cardio. But in general — especially among women — most people put too much emphasis on long duration cardio. Yes, it’s good for your heart, helps you burn calories and makes you feel good, but it needs to be kept in check.
One approach that many people find effective is to limit their cardio to no more than 30 minutes, but increase the intensity by either adding resistance, speed, or in the case of a treadmill — incline — to work out harder, but for shorter periods of time.
This is known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and there is some research that indicates it may be more effective at burning fat — especially abdominal fat — while preserving lean tissue than solid-state long duration or distance cardio. Interval training has you literally alternating between high-intensity bursts of 1-2 minutes, followed by a recovery period of 2-#3 minutes, and then another burst of higher intensity. You can accomplish a similar effect during running by increasing your speed to a sprint for a short period, or running 100 yard dashes at a local track or field.
Before undertaking HIIT training, however, you should already be in good health, have already built a good cardiovascular conditioning base and consult with a physician just to be safe.
If you aren’t including 45-60 minutes of weight or resistance training at least three times a week in your workout schedule, it’s time to change that. To get “toned” you need muscle — and the only way you will add muscle is by weight training.
Building muscle mass and size requires constantly challenging your muscles with increasing levels of resistance — this is also known as “progression” in weight training jargon. This applies to both men and women.
This means you need to continually increase the amount of resistance you are using. If you are always using the same amount of weight for the same amount of reps, you aren’t going to add muscle or “sculpt” anything. All you’ll be doing is maintaining the status quo. That may be a fine approach once you hit your goals in terms of what you want your body to look like, but you probably wouldn’t be reading this article if you’ve achieved that.
So if you are already weight training and not seeing the results you want, try increasing the weight slightly during your next workout. You probably won’t be doing as many reps, but that’s okay. You need variation to grow.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say that the way to get “toned” without becoming “bulky” is to perform high reps with light weight. There is probably no other single piece of fitness advice that has caused more people to NOT get “toned” than this little gem.
To add muscle you need to train with progressively more weight or resistance. As I mentioned above, this will probably result in you performing less reps. It’s not a problem — embrace it. The trick here is to pick the right combination of weight, reps and sets for your “toning” goals — and that combination is probably going to be different from what you see in “toning workouts” in fitness magazines.
Continually training with high reps and low weight will not only prevent you from adding muscle (which, remember, you need to get “toned”), but it will prevent you from increasing your strength, which has other health and fitness benefits.
Performing high reps (we’re talking 15-20 reps or higher) will increase muscle endurance, allowing you to train at your current resistance level for a longer duration without fatiguing, but it won’t create size. One possible exception to this is when training legs and calves, where higher reps can be productive because you already work those muscles daily just walking and climbing stairs. The trick is to play around with different weights and rep ranges to see what is effective for you.
The reason people think high reps are good for “toning” is because they can temporarily cause a “pump” in the muscle that makes the muscle look fuller and can bring out some definition. However, this “pump” is short-live (sometimes lasting only a few hours at the most) which means that it’s not going to permanently add size or muscle definition. Once the pump is gone, so goes the definition.
This isn’t to say that you should never perform high-reps — it’s always good to change up your rep ranges and weight to prevent the body from adapting and to continue making progress. However, if all you are doing is countless reps with 3 lbs dumbbells under the illusion that this will get you a body like a fitness model, you need to change your approach. It’s probably the reason you still haven’t hit your goals.
Another word of warning: You can’t assume that the models in the “toning” workouts you see in fitness or women’s health magazine spreads are necessarily following the workout routine they are demonstrating.
They are models, and they are there to illustrate the workout routine the editors or writers are discussing. They typically aren’t actually working out. And they themselves may never train with kettle balls, stability balls, resistance bands or the myriad of other gadgets and novelties they are paid to demonstrate.
Editors and fitness writers need to offer new things to their readers to keep interest and readership up. You can’t run 12 separate articles on barbell squats and still keep people’s interest, despite the fact that squats will almost always give you better results than the ”Campbell Soup Can squat and thrust” or whatever novel exercise the writer or trainer came up with this month.
More than likely, the model’s own training routine is much more fundamental and simple: Lots of dumbbell, barbell and cable work, heavier weights, compound exercises and some high-intensity cardio thrown in to keep body fat levels down. In fact, this is exactly the type of routine Amanda Carrier says she follows. And who is going to argue with her results?
I’ve never seen a great physique built on rubber bands or medicine balls alone. These types of exercises have their benefits, especially around improving balance, coordination and stabilizer muscle development, but they aren’t going to get you much muscle mass or help lower body fat levels — and that, remember, is your goal if you want to look “toned.”
Now that we’ve thoroughly debunked the idea of “body toning” let’s sum them up in five easy to remember rules:
So now that I gave you my Seven Rules of A Toned Body, I’m going to throw in a curve ball. You are allowed to break the rules. While these rules are based on experience and some research on optimal rep ranges and exercise specificity for building mass and strength, there can be considerable variation from person-to-person in terms of what their bodies respond to. Some people will put on muscle mass with higher reps, while others experience better results with lower reps (sometimes as low as 4-6 per set.)
The key here is to mix your routine up frequently (at least every 4-6 weeks) with different exercises and rep ranges to find what you respond to the best in order to hit your goals. If you find something that works, stick with it until it seems to stop working (which will happen) and then try a different approach — maybe a lower rep range or higher reps, or different exercises.
Also, understand that some muscles groups may respond differently to exercise based on each person’s unique genetics.
For example, some people find it very easy to put on muscle mass in the legs, but struggle to add mass to the upper body to balance things out. If this happens to you, you will want to modify your workout to preference upper body development, while maintaining or reducing lower-body mass through higher-reps (provided higher reps don’t add mass to the lower body for you.) Again, this is very individualized, and sometimes it requires a personal trainer to help you sort things out and find the right combination for you.
Keeping a workout log can help you track your progress in terms of strength, but if you are trying to sculpt or change your appearance and put on more muscle, the best gauge of your progress is a visual check.
Because these changes take place gradually over time, you often don’t even notice them.
You may want to consider taking some “before and after” pictures of yourself to better visually measure how effective your training is. Do you have more muscle mass? Better muscle definition? Less body fat over all or a more “toned” appearance in your abs? Many people are surprised to look at themselves four or five weeks later and see something very different (and very good) from the “before” pictures. Over longer periods of time, these regular “progress pictures” can demonstrate some pretty radical transformations and help keep you motivated.
If you don’t see any real difference, show the pictures to someone else for a second opinion. We are often our own worst critics, and our own self-perceptions can literally cloud what we see. If, on the other hand, you really don’t see much progress, then it’s time to try a different approach.
Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, with the same result. If you want to add muscle, lose body fat and get that “toned body” you have to avoid that trap at all costs. Now that you understand how to actually get there, you’ve already made half the journey in achieving your fitness and body sculpting goals.
Whether it’s better to perform your cardio before or after lifting weights really depends on your current conditioning, stamina — and to a certain extent — your mindset. There are also some physiological and scientific reasons you might preference weight lifting over cardio earlier in your workout — but even here you’ll find some disagreement among trainers, exercise physiologists and even odybuilders.
The order that you perform your cardio and weight lifting exercises does matter: To you.
In terms of whether cardio is best performed before or after lifting weights, you need to consider a few of factors:
How you answer these questions will help determine the best order for performing cardio and weight training.
In general, the conventional wisdom seems to be that performing cardio after your weight lifting or resistance training routine is better. However, even here, there is a fair amount of disagreement.
Depending on the intensity and volume of the weight lifting routine, many people find that if they perform either duration/distance cardio or high-intensity interval training before they lift weights, it can negatively impact their performance during weight training.
Weight lifting or resistance training, properly done, is very intense activity. It requires concentration, motor-neural recruitment, balance, coordination, strength and most of all, lots of quick-burst energy. If you are performing high-intensity, circuit-like training with very little rest between exercises or sets, it can be even more taxing on the body.
Although activities like running, biking or using and elliptical or stair-stepping machine primarily train for cardiovascular endurance, they also place a certain amount of resistance on the muscles — especially if you are doing your cardio training on an incline or increasing the tension on an elliptical machine or recumbent bike.
So depending on the exercise and intensity, cardio can pre-fatigue certain muscle prior to weight training, reducing your ability to lift weights at a level that will challenge your previous level of performance.
This is especially true for the legs, which are the primary group of muscles recruited during most cardio activities.
Performing cardio before weight training your legs can often leave your quads, hamstrings and even calves fatigued, reducing the amount of work these muscles can perform during weight lifting. It may also increase the risk for injury due to fatigue or deviations in form. Of course, if you just performed a grueling set of squats, your ability to successfully run afterwards can be limited as well.
Depending on your level of conditioning, bouts of higher intensity or long-duration cardio can also leave your body in a state of overall fatigue, which can also negatively impact your ability to lift weights later in your workout. Depending on the intensity, cardio can also deplete the body’s carbohydrate stores, leaving you short on critical fuel for when you lift weights.
Interestingly enough, there is very little peer-reviewed research on the effects of performing cardio before strength training.
The most commonly cited research is a (thus far) elusive study conducted by Southern Cross University in Australia, which apparently found a reduction in muscular strength and performance when people performed cardio before weight lifting. However, I have been unable to locate this specific study for review.
Most advice around the order of cardio and weight training refers to “the latest research” but it typically doesn’t source that research. So for now, unfortunately, science has little to add in terms of guidance on this issue.
Another popular theory that you’ll frequently hear thrown around on bodybuilding and fitness bulletin boards is that performing cardio after weight lifting will burn more body fat.
This hypothesis is based on how the body preferences and utilizes certain short-term energy stores like muscle and liver glycogen versus fats. While I won’t get into the details of why this theory has some serious flaws, it’s enough to say that the hypothesis tends to under-estimate the amount of stored glycogen available to the body and over-estimates the amount of glycogen depleted during weight training and cardio.
So if you are determining the order of your cardio and weight training solely on the idea that performing cardio after weight lifting will burn more body fat, you may want to reconsider.
In fact, a small-scale study from the Human Performance Research Center at Brigham Young University found that cardio before weight training produced a greater increase in excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) — or the amount of energy you burn after completion of exercise — versus cardio after weight lifting, weight-lifting-only and cardio-only.
However, the researchers point out that the main driver of this increase in EPOC is the inclusion of the resistance training into the exercise routine. The resistance-only group also experienced a significant increase in EPOC, so the real take away here is that you should be including resistance and weight training in your workouts to maximize fat-burning. Period.
Also, it’s important to point out that the intensity and volume of resistance training in this study was fairly low — 7 lifts. So it’s difficult to know if the impact of the sequence of exercise on EPOC would be changed under higher-volume or more intense resistance training conditions — either pre-cardio or post-cardio.
As often is the case with studies like this, there are often as many new questions raised, as old ones answered.
It’s easy to get caught up in all of the scientific debates, exercise physiology and advice from “gurus” when it comes to weight lifting and cardiovascular training.
While basing your decisions on facts, and not just theories and opinions, is generally a good practice in life, at some point, you also have to ask yourself: “What works for me?”
This applies to the whole “is cardio better before or after weight lifting” debate, as well.
Some people who don’t particularly enjoy cardio prefer to do it first in their workout and just “get it out of the way” so they can really focus on their weight training. Other people find that lifting weights first ensures that they are fresher and stronger, and do better performing cardio last.
Some people avoid the entire problem altogether and doing their weight lifting on one day, and their cardio training on another (although the Brigham Young study suggests a benefit to combining them on the same day.)
Each person’s body responds differently to training protocols. The best approach is to try several different ordering schemes and see what works best for you.
In other-words, make the “science” your own and conduct your own experiments.
If you are keeping a detailed exercise log with good mind-body notes (something recommended for any person, regardless of their level of fitness or training experience), you should be able to review your logs and see exactly how the ordering of your exercises — including when you perform cardio versus weight lifting — impacts your energy, strength, endurance, state-of-mind and even fat-loss or lean body mass gains.
At the end of the day, research and advice from fitness experts is best used directionally. Your real gains will come from trial and error and finding what works for you.
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