I recently had a conversation with a new client about the prospect of fat loss as it pertains to exercise. She wanted to drop a few pounds, to fit into a smaller pair of pants and to have a slimmer and athletic look again, like she did when she was younger.
I asked her what she currently did for exercise to achieve that goal, and she said, “Well…I’ve been going to a spin class twice a week and running 3 to 5 miles 2 to 3 days a week.”
I stood silent for a moment with a goofy half-grin on my face before uttering, “And?”
She smiled and asked, “Well…nothing else. I mean, aren’t you supposed to do cardio to lose weight?”
Dropping Body Fat: 101
Please understand: I am not writing this piece about dropping body fat. But that seems to be a topic virtually everyone is really interested in, I figure it’s a sneaky way to get and hold your attention for a little while.
Don’t worry, I’m going to tell you how to do it, but I’m also going to try to convince you why you should be strength training for the “bigger picture issues” of life.
Dropping your level of body fat is a really simple process:
- Take in fewer calories than your body expends, and hopefully those calories are coming from sources that promote muscle acquisition and maintenance, healing and restoration. Not just filling a void in the center of your body.
- Get an adequate level of sound quality sleep for recovery and replenishment.
- Lift, lower, push, pull and move around with or throw moderate to heavy things to acquire muscle so as to increase your metabolism and thereby increase your body’s need for energy sources, like body fat.
- Do these 4 to 6 days per week consistently for the rest of your life.
But there are other reasons you should be regularly participating in a strength training program. I wrote about one of them just a couple of weeks ago and you can read it here.
I tell my clients interested in dropping body fat that if they will simply do 4 things on a consistent and regular basis, they’d never have to even consider thinking about their level of body fat again. Those 4 things are:
- Manage your hormones.
- Get more sleep.
- Focus on increasing your bone density.
- Gain more muscle.
Manage Your Hormones
“What the heck does that mean, Uncle Steve?”
It’s a simple way of saying, “Eat your vegetables.”
With few exceptions, as in the case of menopause, you regulate your hormone levels by the quality of your nutrition. It’s really that simple. Eat single ingredient, whole foods like you would find in nature and you’re going to do well.
Eat stuff from packages, containers and cans that has been processed and contains added “ingredients” and all bets are off.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again a thousand times: eat it like God made it. It’s the simplest nutrition plan I know for health and wellness.
Get More Sleep
I’m not going to elaborate to heavily on this one because it should be abundantly obvious.
Stop staying up late and getting up early.
Stop drinking so much.
Stop eating so late at night.
Stop fretting and worrying over every little thing that you probably have no control over anyway.
Get off your danged iPad, iPhone, iTelevision, and idon’tknowwhatelse electronic gadget and get to bed.
Turn the lights off until the room is dark.
Turn down the A/C.
Without it, and just like eating crappy stuff, all bets are off.
Focus on increasing your bone density.
I heard a bone density specialist many years ago state that the women who had the best bone density in their 40’s and 50’s were gymnasts as children.
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’re probably past the age of becoming a gymnast just to increase your bone mass. So what can you do?
You guessed it…strength training.
Your bones, joints, tendons and ligaments NEED a certain level of tension and strain to get them and keep them strong. Strength training does just that.
Gain more muscle.
This is the one that always scares my female clients.
Say it with me now, “I don’t want to get all bulky! I just want to tone.”
Hear me now: There is no such thing as “toning”. (Read this article for more details) Your body is always in one of three states:
- Gaining or losing muscle mass.
- Gaining or losing body fat.
- Maintaining your body’s present state.
Muscle is the key to an increase in metabolism, which in turn translates to more efficient usage of energy stores – think body fat – which potentially leads to a leaner physique.
Bulk comes from body fat.
You give the appearance of being “toned” by ridding the body of fat. It’s that simple.
And I’m not talking about muscle size, necessarily. Most women have a real problem putting on a lot of muscle because you aren’t equipped with the amount of testosterone needed to do so. Muscle density will be your friend.
My colleague in the strength field Ben Bruno is Kate Upton’s coach. She looks great, doesn’t she? She also lifts like a beast.
Don’t believe me? Read this.
And strength training can actually help you live longer and reduce your risk of early death.
Here’s a kind of technical, three-dollar-word article on the subject.
And here’s one that’s laid out in more average Joe language.
The Bottom Line
Strength training makes everything better.
Being strong is good, healthy and right.
You can join a gym, try and read a few articles on the subject and hope to get some of the benefits of strength training.
Or you can call or write me and let me put my 30+ years as a coach to work for you and do the thinking for you.