-Written by Brian Wright, BW-PT
You may have heard that fat loss results happen in the kitchen – that 80% of your efforts should be focused on proper diet.That approach can be successful. However, I like to tell most of my clients that it’s more like 50/50 – I recommend splitting your efforts equally among the kitchen and the gym. Yes, nutrition is important. But, exercise is just as important!
A 50/50 split puts a greater emphasis on what many of us to deem to have greater control over – our exercise programming. Controlling nutritional intake sometimes can be daunting. There are so many ways to succeed, so many programs, dietary restrictions, etc. However, with exercise programming, we can take a more simple approach. We feel like we have control because we can designate a specific time in our schedules for exercise.
Many of us know now that in order to optimize fat loss, we need to include some type of strength training. Even if the goal is not fat loss, strength training is a priority for total health. It ensures proper joint range of motion by maintaining muscle and tendon health, fights the effects of osteoporosis and testosterone depletion, and gives greater results in improved HDL counts than with cardio alone. I could go on and on detailing the health benefits of strength training…
But, for fat loss, strength training is the only real way we can change or improve our base metabolism. Metabolism means “requires energy to sustain or operate.” That means your heart, respiratory, and digestive systems all require energy to work. The most metabolic substance in your body – the substance that requires the most energy – is your musculoskeletal system. The good news is you have control over this! You can exercise with metabolic rev as the focus.
So, what do I mean by metabolic rev? Rather than solely focusing on the number of calories burned (cardiovascular exercise), you can incorporate strength training into your program to ensure that you rev higher throughout the day – in daily life and in exercise. This will also allow you to have greater leeway nutritionally because maintaining proper muscle function will require adequate nutrition (so you don’t feel like you are starving).
Imagine you walk on a treadmill with a good incline (a great option for cardio!) for 30 minutes. Let’s say your current body composition burns 250 calories in the 30 mins. After roughly 3-5 weeks of proper strength training, your nervous system will learn how innervate more muscle fibers, becoming more efficient at movement – so your mobility improves! For most people, after 8-12 weeks, you can rest assured that you have actual real chemical change in your muscles – this is what I’m talking about!
Now that we understand WHY strength training can help fat loss efforts, let’s take a quick step back and look at what I mean by strength training.
Your muscles are very diverse – they can do all sorts of things. They can contract low level of strength and do that for hours upon hours. Think endurance contractions like bike riding. They can hold a contraction(isometric contractions, like a plank), and they can also use power – both for explosion and for lifting something heavy. The key in programming is to ask your muscles (and nervous system) to do ALL of the above.
In my 16 years of personal training, my exercise programming centers around what strength training actually means, as explained in the above paragraph. This is what actually engages THE MOST muscle fibers. Lifting the equivalent of a can of soup 500 times will make you tired and sore, but your muscle does not recruit more fiber than is required to complete the task. So, in actuality, you simply tire out a small percentage of your target muscles. The only way to use 20-30% of your muscle fibers is to ask them to get involved – either by getting very good at isometrics or by moving fairly heavy weight for your frame at different paces. The best option, of course, is to combine both isometrics and power movements.
So what does this look like in exercise programming? Here is a great beginner program – click here!
A video explanation:
8 Minute Warm-Up
- Easy yoga flow/ground contact-3 mins (nervous system wake up)
- Halos for shoulder mobility and strength
- Lying hip bridge superset with monster walk for glute activation
- Goblet pry for hip opening
- Super set with dynamic hip flexor stretch
The Strength Training Workout
- 2-3 sets
- Single leg deadlift-5/5
- TRX row-10
- Primal crawl-15 feet
- Dead clean-5/5
- Half Turkish get up-2/2
- Farmer carry-50ft
Total Time: 35mins
For more information on exercise programming, or on designing a specific plan for you, visit BW-PT.com
-Written by Brian Wright, BW-PT
About Brian Wright
Brian Wright earned his Master of Science in Exercise Science from George Mason University in 2006. He teaches KettleBell and strength/movement training and philosophy nationally for industry leading organizations. He owns BW-PT, a multi-location personal training company in DC metro area. The local training studio is located just minutes from One Loudoun. BW-PT.com
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