I received a series of texts the other day from a friend who Iconstantly tell to eat more. It included statements such as “I’m eating more protein, and I’m getting skinnier.” It also included this gem: “People are telling me that I’m skinnier, but the scale says the same thing…” My response: “Is this a serious text?” Her response: “No, because muscle is denser than fat.” I was trolled.
I came across the picture below earlier, and thought it would be perfect inspiration to discuss some basic thoughts on body composition. Here we go:
1.) You are eating; stop kidding yourself. Controlling for that, perhaps you’re eating the wrong foods at the wrong times. Fruits and vegetables are a good place to start, but don’t limit yourself to cucumbers. Protein sources are important, and will provide a greater impact on lean body mass and fat mass then simply cutting calories and eating less. Limit the processed foods as much as possible, and if you do indulge, pre/post workout is a good idea. Here are two ‘plate’ demonstrations from the good folks at Precision Nutrition:
2.) How active are you? This includes through out the day, from when you wake up until when you go to bed. Diet is one of the most important factors, but if you spend all of your waking hours sitting in cars, at work, and back home on your couch, that might be an issue.
3.) Accounting for all of your activity, strength training is probably the most important thing you can do for body composition. If you’re a total couch potato, or are looking to increase your levels of physical activity, strength training would be the place to start. For the sake of brevity, picking up heavy shit will work for just about every goal people have. This includes men and women of all ages and walks of life. If you want to run faster when you play sports, play more golf now that you’re retired, or look better in a bikini; getting stronger will help.
4. ) Once you take care of strength training, look at what you consider “cardio”. Most of us grew up thinking that cardio was lower-intensity, longer duration activity. Going for a jog, swimming for 30 minutes, dancing away the pounds in Zumba; all aerobic activities. Sure they work, and if you enjoy them, keep up the hard work. When considering effectiveness though, you’ll get more from shorter duration, higher intensity activity. It induces higher metabolic demands, mobilizes more fat, and has a more desirable endocrine response. High(er) Intensity Interval Training can be overused, and if you’re lifting and using HIIT, you may find yourself worn out. Depending on how you recover and are planning your training sessions, you can incorporate HIIT training in several ways. Two of my favorite ways would be as finishers after lifting sessions, as well as to start individual training sessions.
I typically recommend that finishers are somewhere in the 8-15 minute range, depending on the strength training used in the workout. My go-to examples include sprinting, both on tracks or hills; pushing the Prowler; swinging a kettlebell; or any series of body weight exercises. I understand that Prowlers and Kettlebells aren’t readily available for most people, so if you have them, use them. If not, you may enjoy something as simple as performing a circuit of push-ups, body weight squats, and prone alternating toe-touches:
If your programming calls for stand-alone conditioning sessions, I’d recommend completing your higher intensity work at the beginning of the session. You’ll be fresh from a neural and metabolic stand point, so you’ll be able to sprint faster/harder, and the higher intensity work will increase fat mobilization, which you can metabolize during the lower intensity ‘endurance’ work you may be doing after that. I’d like to recommend completing this training in a fasted state, if possible, but you may hate me if you try to run sprints then jog in a fasted state. Good luck!
6.) Once your diet, lifting, and conditioning is taken care of, it can’t be problematic to include more traditional aerobic exercise. Oh, you want to take a kickboxing class? Break out the Taebo moves and go to town, it’ll be fun.
Like most things in life, improving health and fitness levels should start with working smarter, then working harder. Address diet, strength training, and conditioning before you start packing in hours and hours of slow steady cardio. You’ll see better results in less time, and I’m sure you’ll have loads of fun.
5 Replies to “1 Meme, 6 Thoughts”
Dieting and eating right has always been a problem for me. I usually go for the “I’m still young” mindset and just eat and drink whatever I want whenever I want. Although now I sit in front of a computer all day and become more of a blob, I’m noticing that that might not be the best way to go. I usually lift 3 times a week and then I have marching on the weekend which is a great combination of lower body lifting, core, and cardio work. However, that’s not going to be enough anymore! Thanks for the dieting tips, now I just need to find the motivation to go home and cook for myself after an hour commute in and out of Philly! Does your blog come with a personal chef, or as I like to call them, girlfriends?
Brendan, we’ve all had the “I’m still young” mindset, and hopefully it will still come out at times when we’re 40, 60, and 80 years old. That’s a good realization though, and one that most people seem to have when they begin working on a regular basis. I’m sure that the indoor provides an ass kicking each weekend, and with the 3 lifting sessions per week, that seems like a solid 5-6 (?) days per week of training. Without knowing too much, I’d suggest that those 3 days are full body workouts, but that would be dependent on your overall schedule. As for the cooking; I totally understand. I like to cook, but sometimes it’s hard to when you don’t have lots of time. If I were in the Philly area, I’d have you over for grub, but without that whole pesky girlfriend business.
I love this post 🙂 It took me a while, but I am getting the hang of how my body responds to certain things now 🙂 I am really loving my new diet and training plan and excited to see results. It’s awesome how much food I can eat 🙂 I knew that for a long time, though 😉
I enjoyedd reading your post