I recently wrote about the importance of muscle building for fat loss.
It may seem counter-intuitive to train for muscle gain when your goal is to drop body fat. But that extra muscle will increase your metabolism and increase the amount of calories you burn on a day to day basis.
So adding a little extra muscle can really help your fat loss goals.
With that in mind it would be useful to explore the key principles of training for building muscle.
As with any type of training, you will need to adhere to the principle of overload in order to be successful in your muscle building efforts. Overload is a way a saying that you are subjecting your body to something that it is not used to. Only by doing that will you be able to stimulate your body to adapt and, in this case, build new muscle.
So if you are a beginner, then simply getting to the gym and lifting some moderately challenging weight will probably be sufficient to get you some initial gains.
Beyond that, you need a bit more strategy to make sure you are overloading your body in a way that is going to keep that gain train going!
Muscle Building Mechanisms
There are three commonly regarded mechanisms thought to underpin muscle building efforts.
These are as follows:
1) Mechanical Tension
2) Muscle Damage
3) Metabolic Stress
This means, when training for muscle mass, we need to overload one or more of the three factors above.
With regards to Mechanical Tension, think in terms of multi-joint exercises and heavy weights! So heavy sets of squats, deadlifts and bench press would fit the bill nicely.
For metabolic stress, we need to be thinking about slightly longer, but lighter sets to get that muscle pump and feel that muscle burn!
In terms of muscle damage, you need to try and induce small micro-tears in your muscle through your strength training efforts. The best way to achieve this is through emphasising the eccentric part of an exercise. The eccentric part of an exercise is the lowering part, where a muscle is lengthening.
The thing is, we are much stronger during the eccentric part of an exercise (it's always easier to lower a weight than it is to lift it, right?). So you need to get strategic about how to overload those eccentrics!
That can be an article for another time. For now let's summarise how to best achieve a compromise between all three muscle building mechanisms....
In order to go heavy enough to achieve sufficient tension, yet long enough to create enough metabolic stress, you need to be lifting weights that will result in you reaching failure after performing 6-12 reps.
That's the sweet spot.
So if you can't manage six repetitions on an exercise, drop the weight a little. Likewise, if you can manage more than 12 repetitions, then increase the weight a little.
Whilst working within that range, you should also try to make the lowering portion of each repetition slower than the lifting portion. This will help you to emphasise the eccentric portion of the lift a little.
So there you have it, 6-12 repetitions per set with slow eccentrics, and you have achieved a great compromise between the three mechanisms underpinning muscle growth!
Of course there will be times when you don't want to go for a compromise and you should focus on just one of the three factors to overload. However, the protocol outlined above will serve you well as a significant mainstay of your muscle building efforts.
In my last article I discussed the merits of different types of Cardio training methods for fat loss purposes. These ranged from long, slow cardio sessions such as distance running, to short high intensity cardio workouts such as battling rope sessions.
Here is the link to the Cardio Training for Fat Loss article.
Today we shall take a look at training for fat loss from an entirely different perspective.
This article will explore the benefits of muscle building workouts for your fat loss goals.
It seems counter-intuitive. Why would someone concern themselves with building muscle when their goal is to burn fat?
Well let me explain...
Muscle is a very metabolically active tissue. Basically, that means, the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn on a day to day basis.
Now you don't need to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. In fact, relatively modest increases in muscle mass will do wonders for turning your body into a fat burning furnace.
So in addition to incorporating a combination of different cardio training methods, an optimal fat loss training programme will also include a certain amount of training designed to build muscle.
Does that mean hitting the gym, pumping iron and lifting heavy weights?
Certainly, that's an effective way to build muscle. And realistically, if you wish to add as much muscle to your frame as possible, then you probably can't afford to avoid the iron.
But if you're just interested in adding a small amount of muscle to a slight figure then alternative training options will work just fine if you would prefer to train away from the gym environment.
I sense an article on bodyweight training for muscle building may be just around the corner...
Have a great day!
Last week I wrote about how great pre-breakfast morning workouts were for your fat loss goals.
Essentially, by working out in the morning before consuming any food you are exercising in a fasted state. This has a bunch of cool benefits which you can read about in that said morning exercise workout article.
Today I want to touch on what kind of exercise might be a good idea to consider for these morning workouts.
Under normal circumstances, recommendations would be to exercise at lower intensities for longer periods of time for fat loss results. The longer duration of such workouts may enable you to burn a greater number of total calories. Also, at higher training intensities the body preferentially uses Carbohydrates to fuel your exercise session. Whereas at lower intensities your body will preferentially use fat to fuel your workout.
So it is easy to see how the recommendation for low intensity but long duration exercise sessions for fat loss results has come about!
However, the rules get flipped upside down when it comes to pre-breakfast morning exercise sessions...
Because these workouts are performed in a fasted state, it doesn't matter how high the intensity of the workout is, as the body has no Carbohydrate stores available to use anyway. So ramp that intensity RIGHT up for these workouts, as your body will still have no option but to preferentially use Fat to fuel the exercise session.
Beyond that simple recommendation, you can get as creative as you wish with the type of exercise you want to perform during your morning workouts for fat loss.
Personally, I would suggest keeping things fairly simple when its early in the morning.
For good, honest, but simple, hard work... I think its hard to beat using battling ropes for a high intensity fat loss workout.
Here's a clip of me attacking some rope slams with some good intensity.