Body transformation is one of the main goals for those who exercise as well as people putting on their first pairs of running shoes. I am going to go over some basic body composition goals such as muscle building, weight loss and definition. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know a bench press from a squat or if you been exercising for years, there is always something to learn, Keeping an open mind and letting go of some preconceived notions that you have about exercise will benefit you greatly. Lets get started with some basics
In order for your body to change you have to battle the process of homeostasis. If you want your body to lose weight you have to give it a reason to lose weight. Your workouts have to create a stimulus that will force the body to adapt. When put under certain stresses it will adapt to those stresses which will cause body composition changes. This is why people see results when they first workout but quickly plateau because their body adapted to the workout stimulus. Hopefully by the end of this post you will have some new tools to force your body to make some new adaptations. One thing that you cannot avoid no matter what your body composition goal, is hypertrophy (muscle building).
SCIENCE OF HYPERTROPHY
This is for all my serious workout nerds and personal trainers that want to sound like they are a lot smarter than they are.
There are two types of hypertrophy contractile (myofibillar) hypertrophy and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Contractile hypertrophy is the increase in contractile proteins which basically means an addition of sarcomeres. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is increase in muscle size by increasing the volume of sarcoplasmic fluid (collagen,glycogen,etc).
Contractile hypertrophy has been shown to make up about 5% of muscle mass. Contractile hypertrophy is also called functional hypertrophy because it is believed to come from more functional or performance based activities like sports and olympic lifting but since we’re talking about body composition, the majority of your training should be aimed towards sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
Here is a list of things that induce hypertrophy when you are actually lifting weights.
- Mechanical Tension - The tension placed on muscle fibers from a stimulus such as weight. There must be enough tension on the muscle fiber to induce hypertrophy otherwise your efforts will not produce adaptations.
- Metabolic Stress - The build up of metabolites such as lactate and hydrogen ions. Anaerobic threshold work will cause metabolic stress.
- Muscle Damage – Damage to the muscle fibers from a workout.
- Recruiting High Threshold Motor Units - A motor unit is the motor neuron and its band of fibers. High threshold motor units are the larger motor units that recruit the larger fast twitch muscle fibers. These muscles that are more prone to hypertrophy and strength.
HYPERTROPHY WORKOUT TIPS
Typical weight lifting workouts consist of 5-12 reps, 3 sets, with a training split such as chest and back, and do the same exercises over and over again. Here are a couple of basic variations that you can use to break those plateaus.
- Extended sets. Ex. do an exercise for a 8 rep max, take a 10 sec break and then do the exercise and go to failure. This will make you recruit more motor units by exhausting every muscle fiber possible.
- Control your rest intervals. Ex. you can start out for the first week taking a 90 sec rest between sets, and decrease rest intervals 15 to 20 seconds a week until you reach 30 to forty seconds of rest between sets. Rest interval manipulation will put your body under more metabolic stress and decreasing rest intervals have showed a difference in hormonal response.
- Slow eccentrics. Lately people have really hated this method but it is effective way to place the body under mechanical tension. Eccentric is basically the negative action of a lift. Ex. if you are doing a bench press the downward portion of the bench press is the eccentric action. Remember that muscle damage is one of the key components to hypertrophy and eccentric actions cause most of the muscle damage in a lift. So go slow on the downward but always do the concentric action (the up part on the bench press or the overcoming part on a lift) with maximal force and speed because it causes you to recruit more motor units.
- Pre fatigue. This method is another way to exhaust as many muscle fibers as possible. If a person displayed weak chest muscle then they could pre fatigue their chest with flys before they do a bench press to recruit and fatigue more muscle fibers. Do an isolated movement of a weak body part and then follow it with a compound movement that involves the same muscle of the isolated movement. You can also do this the other way around by doing the isolated movement after a compound movement, this is called post fatigue. If you want to really exhaust the muscle do pre and post fatigue.
- Stretch the muscle. When training for hypertrophy try to do a large range of motion that will actually put a stretch on the muscle. This will actually recruit more motor units which will help you maximally stimulate the muscle group you are working on.
This is a very brief intro to hypertrophy workouts. I could literally write a book on this but I am going to end it here and move onto weight loss and definition.
Weight loss is a frustrating ordeal, especially if you only follow the scale. Instead of weight loss you should try to aim for body fat reduction and a drop in body measurements. The scale weight will eventually go down but it will frustrate you because it might be down one day and might go up two days later. It is important to get a proper body fat measurement. I suggest going to a place that does hydrostatic weighing because it is much more accurate then bioelectrical impedance (the device where you grip the handles) and skinfold calipers (the device used to pinch and measure skinfolds on several different sites of the body). Also see how your clothes fit and take measurements every month. I will go into much more detail in later posts about how to do measurements and body fat testing but lets keep it moving and actually talk about what your ass is gonna do when you get in the gym.
HIIT (high intensity interval training)
High intensity interval training is basically doing a high intensity exercise with either a short rest or a low intensity exercise. A very simple example of this would be to do an all out 100m sprint followed by a 400m walk for 3 rounds non stop. High intensity interval training is effective because it uses different energy systems. Studies have shown that interval training decreases body fat more than steady state cardio and also decreases abdominal fat more in overweight individuals (key word overweight). Interval training also raises whats called EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption) which is basically how many calories you burn after a workout. HIIT training is definitely something I incorporate into every weight loss program I set up for clients.
Examples of a HIIT workouts
- 12 dumbell squat thrusters, 12 burpees, 15 kettlbell swings, 1o push presses for 5 min for 3 rounds with 1 min break. You can try to increase how many rounds you can finish in that 5 min period each after each 1 min break. Also you can decrease the rest interval every week by 15 sec to make the demand even more rigorous on your body. Remember to stop your body from plateauing you have to introduce it to new adaptations periodically.
- If you want to do a treadmill interval that is really simple then you can do 1 min sprint 3 min walk for 30 min.
- Create your own circuit. Choose full body exercises, choose exercises that are challenging to the breath. Stay away from exercises that are to0 similar in your circuit (squat thruster followed by regular squats would not be the best choice). Keep most of the exercises standing, only use prone exercises if they require total body stabilization (push ups, moutain climbers, renegade rows etc.
OTHER IMPORTANT WEIGHT LOSS TIPS
- Pick up your daily physical activity level whenever you can. Take the stairs, park your car further away, just get your ass moving. My sound simple but it will add extra calories burned throughout the week.
- Gain muscle. Yes you have to build muscle to reduce body fat because it will raise your bmr( basal metabolic rate) which means you will burn more calories at rest. Muscles use up tons of calories which is why you see some people who have lots of muscle and eat like crap and still maintain their physique.
- At least workout 5 hours a week. Studies have shown that people have way more success with working out 5 hours a week.
- Once again train to get some muscle mass. Lots of people say to me “I don’t want to look like those guys on the magazine.” I just laugh inside because I just find it funny that people think that if they start lifting they will not be able to stop their muscle growth. Trust me you never will have that problem. I think people don’t understand the arduous journey to just put on 10 pounds of muscle.
- Women, don’t be afraid to lift to gain muscle because you don’t have the androgens to gain massive amounts of muscle. Also if you widen your shoulder base it will give the illusion of a smaller waist. You have to use heavier weights, one of the main reasons why women who just want to get that so called “toned look” fail.
- Do not abuse cardio. This is the hardest thing for most people to accept. Most people do too much cardio for weight loss which will make you lose lean muscle mass and shoot down your metabolism.
- Lift with a combo of heavyweights (1-5 rep maximums), moderate weights (6-12 rep maximums), and lightweight (12 and above maximums). I will explain more in later posts.
Alright I’m just gonna tell you a few general nutrition tips that I tell clients. Some of these tips will be for weight loss, muscle building, and general health.
- Eat starchy carbs or higher GI foods (glycemic index is a rating scale of how carbs affect blood sugar) 1-2 hours after you workout for weight loss because your body is more receptive to carbs post workout.
- Increase green vegetable intake by eating a serving of vegetable with every meal, at least 5 servings a day. Like mom used to say, “eat your damn vegetables!” Their filled with phytonutrients, fiber, antioxidants, you get the picture. Vegetables have been linked with the reduction of cancer, stroke, heart, disease, and etc.
- Pick up protein intake. Whether you’re building muscle mass or trying to lose weight, you should definitely pick up your protein intake. Protein is the building blocks to muscle and protein tells the body to release a chemical called cholecystokinin which reduces appetite and helps you reach satiety (the state of feeling full). Also protein raises whats called the thermic effect of feeding (TEF) which is the calories your body burns in the process of digesting food. Thermic effect of protein is close to double that of fat and carbs.
- Make sure you have protein with breakfast. Most people eat a super high carb breakfast which cause heavy insulin and glucose spiking which leads to weight gain, fatigue, and hunger craving later in the day.
- If your trying to gain muscle try to eat healthier foods instead of shit all day and try to eat 18 to 22 calories per pound of bod weight. I will go over much more complex lean mass gaining diets in later post so you don’t have to look like you became a professional eater to gain 5 pounds of muscle.
- If you’re trying to lose weight I would suggest not to go under 9 calories per pound of body weight per day. If you go to low on calories you body will start to think its going into starvation and will combat this by slowing your metabolism. Androgen levels and thyroid levels will decrease which will make cortisol rise and cortisol is one of the key factors in weight gain.
Ok that is it for this post. In later posts I will talk about, training for athletes, energy systems. low carb diets, lean mass gaining diets, hormones and the effect they have on body composition and performance, heart rate training, increasing strength, increasing 40 times, and even controversail subjects like steroids Thanks for reading