As I mentioned in my previous blog in this series on nutrition, it is not all about how hard to work on one day but rather how much effort you can put in each day to achieve your goals.
Training is exactly the same! You have to attack each workout with vigor and intensity in order to change the way your body looks!
The most glorious thing about training is you can do lots of different things to get a desired look. There are certain things I feel everybody SHOULD be doing but then the rest can be made up of stuff you really enjoy. You MUST understand what your goal must reflect the training you are doing. You therefore, need to choose which exercise to exploit for that reason. If you want to run a marathon, do more cardio, However if you want to be toned and look shapely, then do more weight training.
Let’s start with the basics and cover weight training. In my eyes this is the sharpest tool in your tool box! This is going to get the job done quicker and more efficiently. By job I am referring to shaping your body. With weight training you definitely get more than you bargain for! For starters we have something known as the afterburn effect which in turn allows our to continue burning calories even after the session which allows for high expenditure per session. Another bonus to weight training is that we are able to cause direct stress to muscles via load and volume which can help shape that muscle specifically. This doesn’t necessarily mean by doing thousands of triceps dips that we will magically develop lovely toned muscles. It just means you are giving your body enough reason to adapt which will allow the muscle to grow.
There is no such thing as specifically ‘toning and shaping’ muscles. You can only build muscle and then reduce the fat. This also means you cannot really spot reduce in areas. Your fat storage is genetic meaning if you have love handles, doing lots of side bends again will build some muscle but not exclusively tone. You’ll need to sort your nutrition out for that to happen. Sorry to be the barer of bad news but that’s how it is!
Following on from doing lots of reps on a specific area, the body is adaptive meaning that doing only one form of training (in this case lots of reps and low weight) is like only having one string to a guitar. You need to mix training techniques up for those adaptive processes to continue. Now I’m not suggesting that changing every week is beneficial. You need to allow your body to adapt and change at the right time to see benefit. I suggest monitoring progress via training logs, progress pictures and even how you are feeling to know when to change techniques.
For beginners to weight training, less is more. Im referring to complexity here. We need our body to adapt as I mentioned earlier. Now if you give yourself a really complex exercise which you are struggling to perform, your body will not know how to ensure efficiency of the exercise. This means that you will take longer to respond to the training which had you performed an easier exercise, could have been time spent on increasing load and volume for better progress.
I will briefly touch on cardio because it seems to be a common form of exercise for burning fat. Now in theory it is a great tool for fat burning. However versus weight training, cardio training is more time consuming, less effective per minute of exercise, muscle burning and even proven to slow down your metabolism the more you do it. These are for long steady intensity cardio forms such as running, cycling and elliptical. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) training on the other hand has be scientifically proven to be more effective for the following reasons: It builds more muscle than steady cardio, Is better at maintaining muscle also, more adaptable and can be easier for someone who suffers with joint pains as you can literally use any form of exercise for bursts, has been proven to improve insulin sensitivity (the ability to burn carbohydrates once digested) and Finally more time efficient.
I’m a firm believer of doing things you like as that will be the reason to continue training. If you like something and it burn calories, you will lose weight. However if your goal is to ‘tone’ and build muscle, then you NEED more hours lifting weights and doing HIIT than running or cycling.