Updated: Nov 4, 2020
How would you like a flat stomach showing off your six pack? Or even just to lose a few pounds to notice a difference on your waist line? Everyone can achieve it, however most people go about it the wrong way. Often you’ll be doing the wrong types of training, your diet may be holding you back - often its both!
Performing hundred’s of sit ups / crunches morning and night will not get you a six pack. Although abdominal exercises will make your abdominal muscles stronger and firmer, they will not burn any significant amount of body fat. You, like everyone else, were born with abs! The only thing stopping you from seeing them, is the layer of fat, however thick or thin it may be, covering your abdominal muscles, as the majority of your body fat stores lay directly underneath your skin.
Abdominal exercises are anaerobic (without the use of oxygen), which means they burn glucose / glycogen (sugar) for energy, rather than burning fat. One of the by-products of this is the accumulation of lactic acid - that burn you get towards the end of your abs workout. To burn body body fat, you need to be performing aerobic (with oxygen) exercise, whilst following a full body resistance programme.
Your training should consist of both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training. For the best and quickest results, aim to include both styles of training in your routine. If you perform both types of training on the same day, perform your weight training (resistance) at the start of your workout, followed by your cardio.
TOP TIP: Weight training primarily burns carbohydrates for energy, where as cardio burns both carbohydrates (70-80%) and body fat (20-30%). If you deplete the majority of your carbohydrate stores by performing your weight training first, your body will have no choice but to burn a higher percentage of body fat, due to their being less carbohydrate available.
Weight training (full body) is going to be an essential part of your training. Not only will it help develop the shape and size of your muscles, but it will also allow them to become more metabolically active. In other words, you’ll burn more calories per pound of muscle, even whilst at rest. One pound of active muscle tissue can burn up to 50 calories per day at rest. So if you add an extra 10 lbs of lean muscle tissue to your body, you can burn an extra 500+ calories per day, allowing you to burn more body fat, and keep it off once you’ve lost it!
Cardiovascular training is also going to be an important part of your training. Not only will you burn calories whilst you train, but if you are more physically fit, your body will be far more conditioned to be able to burn off excess body fat and be able to better utilise your body’s fat stores for energy, rather than relying primarily on it’s carbohydrate stores.
The best form of cardiovascular training is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This is where you will perform either the same, or a variety of different cardio based exercises at different intensities. An example could be you sprinting up a hill, (high intensity) then recovering by walking or jogging down, before repeating again several times.
Just be careful not to fall into the common #1 mistake most people make in the gym, which is performing the same cardiovascular exercises, at the same continuous paces, every time they go to the gym. Your body will adapt to the same exercises and the same movements, and burn less calories over time, as they become more efficient at that same repetitive movement. Examples include treadmill & cross trainer.
Whole books have been dedicated to the subject of healthy nutrition and fat loss. However I am going to simplify things down to the fundamental basics. You eat and drink to fuel your body. However most foods and drinks readily available today contain very little nutritional value, and are often loaded with chemicals and additives which will be detrimental not only to your health, but your results too.
As a general rule, DON’T EAT OR DRINK IT if it’s packaged or processed in any shape or form! Instead stick to natural whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, salads, nuts and seeds. Also consume healthy sources of protein from livestock, such as meats, fish and sea-foods, which include eggs. Also be sure to consume a good 6-8 glasses of water per day so your body can function properly.
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One other key factor worth mentioning is that all calories are not created equal. There is some element of truth to the calorie balance myth. Generally, if you burn off more calories than you consume, you will usually lose weight. However if those same calories were only from non-nutritious foods such as takeaways, McDonnalds, etc, which are loaded with sugar, and have very little nutritional value, do you think you would still lose weight? In the majority of cases, the answer would be no, as your body would not be getting any of the essential nutrients it needs on a cellular level to function properly.
On a final note, despite eating a healthy natural diet, high in health fats, proteins, fibre, various nutrients and water, one thing you should also aim to do is reduce your carbohydrates. Aim to avoid Breads, Pastas, Rice & Potatoes. Although these foods are not necessarily unhealthy, they do have a high carbohydrate (sugar) content, which will leave your body burning those foods for energy rather than your body fat stores. Although you may have the will power to cut back on these foods, I strongly recommend you cut them out completely, including too many cereals, as it will help you remove the temptation
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