More cardio is not the answer!
If you are after a lean, toned figure then doing more and more cardio is not going to get you there. To blast away that stubborn body fat, strength training is the key. Doing HIIT (high, intensity, interval, training), running, pump, spin and/or boot-camp classes 6 times a week is not the answer. More sweat does not equal better results! For the ideal body less is often more.
Lifting weights, heavy weights will help reduce body fat because the body uses more calories retaining muscle than it does retaining fat. The more muscle the more energy your body uses. Gaining muscle means you will get smaller and more toned.
Doing lots of cardio can increase your hunger, making it hard to stay in a calorie deficit. It can also fatigue you to the point of exhaustion, which mean you will move less for the remainder of the day therefor burning less calories.
Lifting weights will NOT make you big. It is incredibly difficult for females to get big from lifting weights. They do not have the high testosterone levels required to bulk up from resistance training. Lifting weights will, in fact, make you smaller. Even though muscle weighs more than fat it is much more dense, so you will find your clothes fit better and you are more shapely.
Not only will you feel stronger and more empowered but strength training increases bone density, prevents sagging with age, helps improve posture and increases energy levels.
The key steps to reduce body fat and get toned:
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SHOULDER PAIN, THE BAIN OF MY EXCISTENSE
Shoulder pain is such a massive pain in the butt. Almost everybody I’ve ever met has, at one stage of their lives suffered some sort of shoulder/neck pain, especially if you do Jiu-Jitsu, a sport designed to mess you up physically and yet, still be totally addictive.
Because the shoulder is a complex joint with multiple muscles and tendons running through it, with hard to spell names, I’m going to focus on what I feel are the most common problems and why getting a massage or playing with your balls wont fix them (lacrosse balls you sick people).
For starters, let’s look at shoulder impingement (usually a sharp pain in the front area of the shoulder). This is such a misunderstood injury! It hurts my heart. You do not have an incurable disease, you do not have to amputate, but most importantly, if your physio has a little look at you and then sends you for a cortisone injection you should fire them. Or just ghost them, I would do that to avoid the awkward conversation.
What you have is an imbalance in your muscles around your back and shoulder, your shoulder is being pulled out of its correct and happy position causing all sorts of trouble when you try move it in certain directions.
The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, the ball sits happily in the socket, but it’s like an economy airplane seat, not much room for crazy stuff. In this joint you have a bunch tendons and muscles running in between the ball and the socket. If, for example your upper traps are overworked and pulling your shoulder up into the socket things will start to get pinched and trapped when you move your arm in certain directions. That’s the pain you feel! When this action is repeated over and over you can start to get inflammation in the joint, called bursitis.
If you fix the way your shoulder is moving, you can release the pressure and pinching in the joint and the bursitis will go away. If you inject it, it will feel great for 3 days and then go back to feeling bad. Why? You didn’t change the way you moved, you just stuck some drugs in your shoulder.
Stretching isn’t the cure ether. It could help in the short term and the tight muscle pulling the shoulder in the wrong direction, if stretched or massaged, will release for a bit. Because you haven’t changed the way you move, you will fall back into your old movement pattern very quickly and the pain will most likely come back within hours or days.
Do you want to learn how to move your shoulder correctly? Yes. You do. Come see me.
Cardio, lets clear things up
Cardio is good for you. It improves the cardiovascular system. Helps alleviate stress, improves sleep, reduces the risk of heart disease, burns calories, improves work capacity and helps with fat loss plus many other benefits I just don’t have all day.
But, you need to pick the right modality for your goals. There are a few forms of cardiovascular training based on the energy system used but due to my small concentration span I am focusing on these two:
Steady state cardio
If you are an ultra-marathon runner then you need to run for hours and hours and hours. If you are not, and don’t intend to be then you just don’t need to. Yes, doing steady state cardio (aerobic training for periods of 30 minutes or more) is important because it builds a firm foundation off which you can add high intensity training plus you will recover faster from any form of training that elevates your heart rate. It burns calories too but if you are doing it for fat loss it’s definitely not the most effective way to lose weight. By doing the same steady state cardio routine every day your body will learn to adapt, it becomes more efficient and starts to use less calories to perform the same exercise, this is great for a marathon runners, but less great for people trying to lose weight. This form of cardio can be a great way to recover from an intense weight training workout which is very high in volume.
Interval training will improve your VO2 max, your power endurance and body composition. This is great for many sports, probably not super helpful for Curling, or Chess. Is Chess a sport? I’m not actually sure. I think it is. It’s definitely more of a sport than Curling. Interval training is great for fat loss because unlike steady state cardio, once you have finished your interval training session your metabolism will stay elevated for hours. You will burn more calories post training than you would during an average persons aerobic training session (IF you pushed yourself hard enough!).
The problem with interval training such as HIIT (High intensity Interval Training) or Supramaximal Interval Training (Calling it SIT training leads to much confusion), is that people often don’t go hard enough in the intervals for it to have the true training effect intended. IF you can talk to somebody while doing an interval you are definitely not doing it right!
The other advantage of interval training is, its quicker! A good interval session can be done in 10-20 minutes max. Leaving more time for napping and watching dog videos online.
Yes, I am amazing. Thanks for the compliments.
WHY DOING THE SAME EXERCISES EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE ISN’T GETTING YOU RESULTS
Doing the same exercises everyday isn’t bad. If they are good exercises and you are doing them well you should be proud of yourself. Moving is good, moving through a full range of motion every day is great, you will stay limber and agile like a bush baby. BUT it’s not going to change the shape you are currently in. You won’t wake up one day and your biceps have suddenly become ginormous, you have the glutes of a gymnast and stomach muscles form the movie 300 (or whatever your dream body is, granted this is probably not most people’s dream body but I’m trying to make a point).
You need to progress your workouts. Sophisticated, intellectuals like myself call this, Progressive Overload. This does not always mean putting more and more weight on the bar, it can mean more reps, more depth, more sets, a more difficult variation or even more time under tensions like adding a pause in the movement.
Most gym programs are built on 4-6 week cycles. You need to make sure that you are increasing the difficulty each week by challenging the muscle. What you absolutely don’t need to do is change the movements every session to shock your body. Like your body with go “Holy moly, what is this strange movement!” while you perform a hyena crawl across the gym “I will have to suddenly grow biceps now”. Simple exercises done perfectly yield great results as long as you are using progressive overload.
Your muscles grow because they are challenged, with good form, by a load that is heavy enough for the muscles fibres to increase in size and the number of fibres activated. If you stay with the current load, those new muscles fibres will stay, you are maintaining them. If you want more shape, you must once again challenge the muscle.
So, if you want to stay the way you are then keep doing the things you are doing. That’s cool like ice.
If you want to change your current shape or strength then you need to increase the difficulty of the movement.
For making it through this whole post you win the free use of polluted air.
BELLY FAT, NOOOOOOOOOOOO!
What causes belly fat? Eating more calories than your body burns.
What reduces belly fat? Eating less calories than your body burns.
Now I shall explain further so put on your interested face.
We all store excess fat differently. I store it in my thighs, some people store it around their hips, others in their arms, cheeks, toes, ears (I’ve never seen that but would be keen to) and bellies. It’s genetics, you are stuck with it. What you can control is how much excess fat you have.
Doing sit ups, or any ab exercise, won’t reduce fat on your belly. It's physically impossible to reduce fat on one specific part of your body. Fat is lost on your whole body or gained on your whole body (but as I explained, it can be stored differently in different folks). So, if you want to reduce fat around your abdominal area and have a flat stomach you need to:
Don’t read this and go starve yourself if you think you have excess body fat because it will make you hungry and it’s not sustainable. Make small changes to your diet reducing your daily calories by only a small amount and be consistent. Get up, get active and get to the gym.
Thanks for reading, you are just fantastic.
STRONG GLUTES ARE ESSENTIAL FOR BACK, HIP AND KNEE HEALTH.
There are three muscles making up your butt, glute medius, maximus and minumus. These muscles are all incredibly important, and not just for butt shaking videos (although I would argue that’s one of their most important jobs). Your glutes keep your hips stable, your back healthy and your knees tracking in the right direction.
Why do strong glutes help your back? To unlock this secret, you need to pay me ONE MILLION DOLLARS or you can just read bellow.
Glutes are huge muscles involved in hip extension. You do a lot of that in a day, getting off a chair, picking something up off the ground, running, walking, sexy time and dance fighting etc – the list is long. If your glutes are a lazy bitch then your hamstrings and lower back have to pick up all the slack. This can lead to super tight hamstrings, or quads and a painful lower back.
Your lazy ass could also be responsible for your hips pinching. This can seriously affect your Russian dancing. Your buttocks has the important job of keeping your pelvis stable (I’m trying to think of a way to work ass and stable in together but nothing is coming to me). It plays an important role in stopping your hip from dipping, rotating and doing weird stuff you don’t want it to do. It also keeps the femur (the upper leg bone) sitting nicely in your hip socket. If it’s not doing its job, the femur can start to get pulled out of the socket and that’s when you experience a pinching sensation in positions of deep flexion.
Now, onto your knees. Have you ever done the Charleston bees knees dance? Get up and try it right now (you may need to look it up if you are young).
Thanks, I hope you looked ridiculous. Now you can keep reading.
Your glutes, particularly the medius, keep your knee tracking in the right direction. What you see when the glute medius isn’t doing its job is caving knees. When your knee is constantly caving inwards it can start to cause knee pain.
So, if you are suffering from lower back pain, sore knees or pinchy hips then you might find the answers lie in your butt. Or let’s rather say with your butt before this all gets awkward.
In short: start focussing on butt strength. That’s what I’m trying to say.
Don’t know how? Come train with me. I know lots of stuff.
LADIES, IF YOU WANT TO LOOK TONED YOU SHOULD BE LIFTING HEAVY WEIGHTS
Somebody in the world once said that lifting heavy weights will make women big and chunky. This person was not smart. It’s probably the same person who said that vaccinations cause autism in children.
Lifting heavy weights will make you hot. Definitely. This is scientifically proven by science. Here is the thing. Most woman I know want to look “toned” which means shapely, nice curves in the right places, no wobbly, floppy, saggy bits. This is achieved through weight training, not running, not Yoga, not Pilates and not spin classes. All those things are great but for different reasons.
What you are doing by lifting weights is creating shape in the muscle. The weight you use needs to be heavy enough to elicit an adaptive response from the muscle, increasing the size of the muscle fibres. We are talking about lifting as heavy as you can, for the prescribed rep range (safely and with great technique) to get you looking toned.
This won’t make you bulk up because testosterone is one of the main hormones responsible for muscle gain, females don’t have a lot of that so unless you’re sneaking some into your morning coffee, you are not at risk of bulking up.
IN FACT, it will help you shed body fat because lifting heavy weights increases the number of calories your body uses each day, even when you are doing nothing BECAUSE muscle uses more calories than fat to sustain itself. Which is fantastic because you can burn calories while watching hours of Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix. Other shows I like to burn calories watching are: Archer, Flee Bag, Silicone Valley and most recently The Boys (on amazon prime).
STOP - doing hours of cardio in an attempt to get toned (unless you love it, its specific to your sport or you are training for a zombie apocalypse and you don’t know how to use an axe)
START - lifting weights at the gym, preferably at my gym, with me because I know what I’m doing.