I’m tired of it. People come to me seeking some magical advice in terms of an exercise machine or routine that will transform their body. Many do it either in preparation for a wedding or to gain the confidence to head to the beach or water park.
I admire their desire to improve their physiques. After all, who wants to look like a fat ass?
My answer to these people is pretty much the same regardless of who is seeking the magic potion. On the surface, it’s about:
- Shoring up your diet (probably 80% of the battle)
- Performing muscle-stimulating, high-effort exercise
That means we can eliminate these tactics:
- 45-minute treadmill walks while watching the fraudulent Dr. Oz show.
- Minimal calorie-burning yoga, Pilates, or PiYo classes. Come on, you can do better than that for the amount of time spent exuding effort.
- Sad to say, but any of those abdominal-only classes touting names like Belly-Blaster, All Abs, Thirty-Minute Abs, or Ab Express.
- Any group exercise class that is more mentally fun than physically challenging. Seriously, if you’re simply having fun and not busting your ass, then you are wasting your time if you’re in pursuit of a lean body.
“If your training is disappointing and getting you nowhere, maybe it’s time to start truly working hard.“
I know, I’ve promulgated this advice many times before, and I’m sure you’re tired of hearing it. But people still ask me the same questions and if your body still sucks, obviously you’ve not heeded my recommendations. It’s time to strap it on and actually take serious action.
It’s (Almost) All About Your Intake
Regarding calorie intake, if your diet stinks, do this:
- Cut back your total daily calorie intake. If you’re consuming 3,500 calories, reduce it to 3,000. Hey, it’s a start. To know exactly how many calories you need to lose fat based on your body, age, and activity level, this tool will get you close.
- Eliminate processed food. I know it’s tough because that stuff is everywhere. Sorry to say, but this includes prepared microwavable and boxed foods, instant heat or boil packs, and other similar products.
- Replace soda, energy drinks, and fruit drinks with plain water. Add some lemon or lime juice to give it some flavor if you hate plain water.
- Take fresh vegetables and fruit to work as a between-meal snack. Celery sticks, carrot sticks, cauliflower, grapes, an apple, a peach, strawberries, or whatever you can put in a container or sealed bag.
- If you’re a grain-carb fanatic, try whole-grain items.
Whatever options from the above you select, make sure you don’t over-consume them. Remember, it’s not just food quality. Total calorie intake also factors in to gaining or losing weight, along with the total number of calories expended each day.
Push Your Workouts to the Limit
Regarding sensible workouts, think high-effort as opposed to the easier-effort, longer-duration options such as the dreaded fifty-minute walk on the treadmill. Go for those kick-ass, high-effort intervals. And to Hell with whatever number of calories you purportedly burned when you plug your body weight into the console.
Want to mount a treadmill or elliptical machine?
- Go all-out for 12:00.
- Do hard intervals for 1:00 and back off (but keep moving) for :30.
- Do 5:00 all-out followed by a mental break for 1:00 easy, then repeat three additional times.
“[I]f your body still sucks, obviously you’ve not heeded my recommendations. It’s time to strap it on and actually take serious action.”
Considering going for “a jog”? Try these instead:
- Make your run more effective by going hard for 1:00, then back your pace down to a jog for 1:00. Repeat this hard 1:00 and easier 1:00 for 15 to 30 repetitions. It’s more difficult, but why are you out there to begin with?
- Perform burpees, mountain climbers, bodyweight squats, push ups, pull ups, or any abdominal exercise for a specified number of repetitions and repeat that sequence for a number of rounds until your heart rate is thumping faster than a NASCAR qualifying race. Get after it like there is no tomorrow. Grow a pair.
- Resistance (strength) train. Work all muscle groups. A multi-joint leg, hamstring, abdominal, chest press, row, overhead press, and a pulldown will work.
Muscle Mass Is Key
- The more muscle you possess, the more calories you will burn even when idle.
- Manufacturing more muscle – whether you’re male or female – requires addition calories. So, if you over-eat but strength train hard, there is a better chance those additional calories will go toward building muscle and not fat storage.
- High-intensity strength training is the total package. Muscle growth stimulation and optimal calorie burning, combined with proper dietary intake, will facilitate optimal fat burning and muscle growth, or at least preservation. Remember, muscle gives you “shape” and “tone.” Too much fat only hides muscles.
- Too much aerobic work is counterproductive to becoming lean and building that muscle shape. How many long-distance runners do you know who look buff? I know a gal who does cardio daily for at least an hour. She is thin, soft, and unshapely. I also know a gal who busts her butt (literally) in the weight room and does minimal conventional aerobic work. She’s shapely, toned, and has a rock-hard tush.
I know you’ve heard it time and again from me, but this information is worth repeating. If your training is disappointing and getting you nowhere, maybe it’s time to start truly working hard. Yeah, it’s going to produce more temporary discomfort, but it’s training, people. If you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to do it.
Check out these related articles:
- The 3 Pillars of Fat Loss
- You Can Out-Exercise a Diet and Lose Fat
- A Step-By-Step Approach to Successful Fat Loss
- What’s New On Breaking Muscle Today
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.