Aside from the catch-all “I want to keep fit”, there are generally 2 reasons behind a fitness regime based on gym work. Either you are in there to lose weight, or you are there to build muscle.
In both cases, your aim is to build a better physique. You want to improve your body shape. But the 2 objectives don’t always fit well together. Our body machines are not built like that.
Gym activity is focused activity
With the expense and commitment involved in working out in a gym, allied with the range of special equipment, you need a focus to your routines. The time is too precious to waste. You can also do some damage to yourself, so make sure you get advice that’s right for you.
The equipment you choose to use and the intensity at which you run your repetitions even the length of time you spend on each session will vary depending on your goals. Don’t lose focus and don’t mix the messages you give your body.
Fat loss exercises
If your aim is to lose fat, your exercises will revolve around cardio work: make your body work harder, push up to and then beyond your limits across a range of equipment and techniques. Raise your heart rate, make yourself breathe hard and force your body to eat its fat while you recover.
You’re looking at either longer, endurance workouts or short, intensive sessions that boost the calorie afterburn effect. As you go through your programme, you’re looking to work faster, longer, more intensively.
Gain muscle exercises
If you want to build muscle and gain strength, you need to focus your activity differently. Here you are looking for repetitions on the same muscle groups: controlled, tight activity. The moves don’t need to be fast and furious but they do need to be heavy duty. It’s about making the right moves in the right way.
Build the muscle fibres through repeated discipline. Gradually ramp up the resistance as you progress through your training program. Increase your repetitions steadily as your muscle fibres get the picture.
With a typical diet-based weight-loss program, you reduce intake of certain food elements on specific days. Even cut out all food on some days. You need to build a well-rounded weight-loss and muscle-gain routine around the same approach.
If you are pulling together weight loss and muscle-building regimes at the same time, to get the full body recomposition payback, you need to square this particular circle. Calorie cycling is the term we are looking at. Control and vary your diet in sync with your exercise activity. You need to take the holistic view.
On the surface, it looks like gaining muscle and losing fat are mutually incompatible but work your regime carefully and you can pull off the trick.
On days when you are focusing on muscle gain actions, take on calories at maintenance level – the level of calories you need to maintain your body weight.
When you are on a fat loss day, you’ll focus on cardio activity and work with a small calorie deficit – just less than you need. This has the effect of boosting the afterburn.
Our bodies are carefully tuned machines. We tune them to support our lifestyle. In response, they also govern how we live. But by taking active control of diet and exercise regimes, we can start to change the make-up, structure and behaviour of our bodies.
By taking a joined-up approach, blending diet and exercise control, we can have a massive effect on the way our body reacts. Build a blend of calorie control in with your fitness regime and you start to open up the key to losing fat at the same time that you build up muscle. Build a stronger body and make it leaner at the same time.
There’s no magic solution here, though! Just carefully planned, tightly focused hard work.