It occurred to me after writing my last blog that the majority of my pieces have focused on nutrition and hormone balance. I maintain that it is vital to get these two crucial factors in place to facilitate fat loss. In my opinion, if these two are not there you are always going to fight a losing battle in achieving optimal body composition.
The other vital element is training. I always look at each client as an individual. How many carbohydrates they should eat, what type of training will work best for them (the balance of resistance and cardiovascular training, suitable rep ranges) and many other factors.
That said, there are certain principles and training systems that will help almost anyone to change their body composition for the better (this is working on the assumption that appropriate nutrition, hydration and recovery are in place).
Finnish researchers Hakkinen and Pakarinen proved that moderate loads (8-15 reps) with high volume (multiple sets) produce a twenty fold increase in growth hormone (great for fat loss) when compared to high intensity training (heavy weights for fewer reps).
Before we get to the training, I'd like to look at two other vital components that compliment a training programme.
If you think of the workout as the star of the show, foam rolling (pre and post session) and stretching (post session and pre bed) represent the front of house and back stage. Not as glamorous as the stars but without them, there is no main event.
Why foam roll?
• Prevent injuries - regular foam rolling helps to reduce tension in your fascia (connective tissue that surrounds muscle and nerves) which can become trigger points
• If you have trigger points and tension, your muscle will be restricted - Whether your goal is to be a 'lean and mean' runner or endurance bunny or a 'funky and chunky' weightlifter or body builder, you will have impaired training ability if you cannot use your muscle to the fullest extent possible re range and force production.
• Keep you flexible
• Improved posture and muscle range
• Reduce muscular tension
• Improve circulation
• Reduce stress
This type of training should make you feel as though you have just completed a hard CV session i.e. sweaty and out of breath (minus the negative factors alluded to in my previous blogs).
With this in mind, I will set out some key training parameters that you should stick to if you are aiming to lose body fat.
1) Use compound, multi joint exercises
• Legs - Squat / Deadlifts / Leg Press / Lunges
• Push - Dips / Standing Shoulder Press / Bench Press
• Pull - Chin or Pull Up / Bent Over Row / Single Arm Row
2) Stick to Short rest periods between sets i.e. 60-90 seconds
3) Use a moderate rep range between (8-12) with strict form initially then switch to heavier loads and fewer reps (4-7). Going super high with reps, adding in a ton of cardio and implementing a radical calorie deficit is a sure fire way to feel hollow and wave good bye to hard earned muscle.
4) Use a high number of sets per exercise (4 +)
5) Initially alternate between upper and lower body exercises and follow programmes such as PHA, GBC and 6,12,25. Then progress to multiple sets focusing on body part splits i.e. Upper/Lower splits. It will keep you interested and prevent boredom and stagnation.
6) Change the programme, reps etc every 4-6 weeks depending on training age (the longer you been training, the more frequent the change requirement)
7) If you train 4 hours per week, what are you doing for the other 164 hours? Ensure you recover sufficiently and prioritize sleep.
8) Progressive increase in load (5% per week if fit, able and training consistently)
9) Keep your protein intake high. It will aid satiety and is the most thermogenic macronutrient
10) Don't get caught in the calorie trap. Rely on clean, fresh food and prioritize eating slowly and take time (when possible) to enjoy cooking and eating.