Exercising to achieve fat loss or muscle building can be both simple and complicated!
Simple because once you know the principles – you’ll know how workouts are supposed to feel and how they should be structured.
Complicated because there are so many exercise types and methods to choose from! (and every “guru” or “trainer” will give you conflicting info about which ones are the best!)
However, the good news is that once you understand the simple principles, the complicated choices are actually quite insignificant and won’t baffle you as they once did!
So without further a do, let’s get to the juicy bits!
There are basically two types of exercise we are going to be concerned with – Resistance and Cardio.
Let’s talk firstly about RESISTANCE exercise
Resistance exercises (more commonly known as “weights” or “weighted” exercises) are an ABSOLUTE MUST if your goals are EITHER muscle building or fat loss!!
And yes, this applies whether you are either male or female! (I can see most of the females cowering away from the thought of doing weights as I type this!)
Note :- Before I continue, a word of assurance to females scared of weights – You will NOT become big from weight training! Your hormones simply will not allow this to happen and your diet will also probably not support massive muscle growth!
Women think that they’ll lose their femininity by doing weights when the oppositte is true. You can only sculpt an amazingly toned and feminine body WITH WEIGHTS!
If you’re genetically pre-disposed to getting big from weight training, then feel free to cut down on the intensity of your training but DO NOT cut it out completely.
So, as I promised, we are keeping this simple – Why is resistance work so important and how does it work?
Ok – Let’s talk about weight loss first – If this is your goal you want to keep your metabolism as high as possible! (Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories at rest)
A big factor that determines your metabolic rate are your muscles! The more lean muscle tissue you have, the more calories your body will burn!
Most people who want to lose weight will just do cardio work (i.e treadmill, xtrainer, bike) without any resistance work!
This is all well and good but the weight you lose from this will be a mixture of fat and muscle!
The reason you lose muscle is because you are not stimulating them with weighted exercise! If they have no reason to be there, the body will happily get rid of them!
If you lose muscle, your metabolism slows down – Your metabolism slows down, then what happens when you resume a normal diet? You put all that weight back on because your body isn’t burning calories fast enough!
It’s that vicious circle that is so common!
So, to avoid this, YOU MUST INCLUDE A RESISTANCE PROGRAM if you want to lose weight PERMANENTLY!
If your goal is MUSCLE BUILDING —
Resistance work is easier to explain here..Your muscles need a reason to grow. By using weights you are actually “damaging” the muscle fibers.
This will then make the body think “wow! I better grow to avoid that happening again!” – and then you repeat the workout the following week with more intensity and again and again etc (You will learn more about this in day 5 – “progression”)
I know you’re probably expecting me to give you the “best” method of weight training to build muscle – but it doesn’t exist. Don’t get me wrong there are guidelines you can follow..but I bet you every muscular person you’ve ever seen has got there in different ways from each other.
For example, when I first got my personal trainers qualification, 8-12 repetitions of a weight was the accepted “norm” for building muscle. It still is for most people but I’ve met so many people who have built quality muscle using 4-6 reps..Some have used 6 sets per exercise..some have used 1 set per bodypart!
The point I’m making here is that most methods work – It’s whether they work for you and you can only find this out by DOING. So take action and find out what your body responds to!
Ok, that’s resistance out of the way – Let’s talk about CARDIO.
Cardiovascular work is basically refering to exercises which are elevating your heart rate.
Things like running, skipping, cycling, rowing etc. (more recently, even weights are being incorporated in a cardio fashion!)
For fat loss, cardiovascular work is very important because you are trying to burn more calories than you are consuming on a daily basis.
This will be done through your diet as well as cardiovascular work.
You burn extra calories on the day that you do cardio but also, and perhaps more importantly, depending on the cardio type of exercise you choose, you’ll also raise your metabolism for a day or two!
The cardio type of training that raises your metabolism even after your workout are HIIT Training cardio workouts
That’s the simplest way I can explain the role of cardio exercise for fat loss!
What about cardio exercises role for MUSCLE BUILDING?
Cardio is not as necessary for muscle building – With muscle building you are trying to consume MORE calories than you are burning daily.
Cardio will conflict against that goal, especially if you find it hard to put on weight anyway like I do – but it’s recommend to do some low intensity cardio exercise to maintain fitness and health. I’d recommend cardio 2-3 x a week for 20 minutes if you’re bulking up.
Most weight trainers will pack on lots of muscle and then include cardiovascular work when they want to burn fat and retain muscle. It is when you want to lose fat that cardio exercise becomes an absolute necessity.
Ok, so what are the best workouts then??
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “the best workout” despite what any guru/trainer will have you believe!
I believe in honesty and I will honestly tell you that most workouts are effective if done at the correct intensity (as long as they make some sort of logical sense) – Workouts are effective for around 4-6 weeks until your body adapts to the stimulus. We will cover “body adaptation” on day 5.
For now, thanks for reading 🙂 Look forward to seeing you on Law 3 which is all about Nutrition! A very important day!
If you think you’re ready to get started seriously, I’d recommend picking up a complete training program to take out all of the guesswork in your training. You can find my recommended and reviewed programs on the right hand side-bar at the top of my site.
- Best of luck! Here’s RULE 3 – NUTRITION if you want to start reading now. Again I’d recommend digesting this information day by day but it’s up to you!