When summer starts approaching you generally notice two things in the gym - more people, and counter-intuitive ways to combat excess body fat.
And it's not their fault...they've just been mislead!
Now don't get me wrong here, there's nothing wrong with weights or cardio for fat loss, but it's getting them right that's important.
Just this week I've had a young man message me saying he's lost muscle doing too much HIIT (quite common) whilst the other day in a gym away from my usual one, I watched as a woman combined resistance training and cardio in a manner that wouldn't deliver ideal results.
For ideal muscle growth and a hardened looking body, we must account for three things whilst weight lifting:
1. Mechanical Tension
2. Metabolic Stress
3. Muscle Damage (1).
And we know for ideal fat loss, a calorie deficit, starting at at least 10%, is ideal.
Now if we get these things right, hit our appropiate protein numbers even WITHOUT cardio, the results will be worth it.
That's generally what most Fit'n'Flexed diet plan customers go through, and love it.
But here's the problem - there's a rise in workouts that go a little like this: 20 mins treadmill followed by a circuit of some push ups, far too many sit up exercises (as I saw this lady doing the other day) a few sets of bodyweight squats, and then repeating some of them.
Now again, don't get me wrong - calories were being burnt and its sure as hell better than sitting inside with calorie dense foods!
But it's basically hitting everything and nothing really properly at the same time.
Some initial results will be seen, but sadly, it can get stale pretty quickly.
By taking this approach, the three principles of muscle growth aren't totally accounted for and potential progressive results suffer.
So what's the solution?
It would be far superior for us to have dedicated days to train particular muscle groups - to really hit them with the intensity they need.
Legs on one day, followed by chest and a smaller muscle like biceps on another day, is ideal.
Now I get it - "this is what male bodybuilders do and I don't want to be like them" but they are the leanest, most muscular versions of the human body not just because they're male - but because of the way they train.
And if you're a woman, you can't look like them without drugs - period.
I think the rise of HIIT workouts are great - people are getting into it more...but I think they've been oversold and manipulated to make them seem a whole lot better than they are.
Doing a workout like I saw that lady doing was like doing a bus tour of Europe and doing each country in just 1 day. It's great to get a feel of everything, but you're not really doing anything properly.
Now this is not to say these workouts don't have their place...they do. Once or twice a week for the sake of burning calories is fine.
But for ultimate results for your physique, dedicated days of hitting one particular muscle group followed by appropriate rest in between sets is best, followed by some cardio in there as well, of course, if that's what you'd like. But just ensure your diet is tuned correctly!
It's great to see people in the gym busting their guts - but it's really about training smart (and hard) as opposed to just hard!
"Stay Fit, Stay Flexed!"
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(1) Schoenfeld BJ. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. J Strength Cond Res 24: 2857–2872, 2010.