Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Weight Training and Fat Loss

I just had a conversation with my dad. He lives in England, I in Australia so speaking on the phone is our most regular form of contact. We touch upon many subjects and today was one close to my heart and one of which I am quick to offer advice.

Dad was talking about embarking upon a 'diet', to which I asked how long this 'diet' would last for? We then chatted for a while and I explained that he needed to commit to a 'lifestyle change' rather than going on a diet. The ice-cream that had become such a solid fixture in his freezer may have to find itself remaining in the supermarket freezer section and he would have to learn a new route home from work that didn't involve driving through the local KFC or McDonald's. Maybe I'm being a little harsh, it has been a long time since I have lived with my dad to comment too closely on his eating habits but you get the drift. The re-emergence of not so clever eating habits would see his new diet come to a miserable end - not part of the plan I imagine. I want to see him turn his meal times around and send me his before and after shots, I want my dad to be around to enjoy my son for many years to come.

We also touched upon his planned exercise, so, to my dad, along with the newly inspired mum's out there I dedicate today's post.

Weight training and fat loss can be a confusing subject. As a Personal Trainer I come across many people who believe they need to lose 'weight' before embarking upon a resistance program. Another common preconception is that it is enough to eat less and just do cardiovascular exercise in order to lose 'weight'. Technically maybe they are right, they will probably lose 'weight'. We just need to ensure the weight being lost is coming from body fat and the only way to do this is first to find our starting point and track the changes. To do this we use tools such as Body Composition (touched upon in earlier posts - also see link for more details), skin folds are another good tracking tool if you don't have access to something like Body Composition. Jumping on the scales every week is just not enough - they don't give you enough information.

By using diet and Cardiovascular exercise alone you are missing out on a very important component..... resistance or weight training. Weight training is often associated with building muscle and increasing strength, what is not always recognised is the impact weight training has on fat loss.

Weight training increases your lean body mass. Increasing your lean body mass speeds up your metabolic rate, therefore causing you to burn more energy when you are resting - and the amount of energy you burn while you are resting is proportional to the amount of lean body mass you carry. If you use Cardiovascular activity alone your body will begin to breakdown your lean muscle to use for fuel, therefore reducing your lean body mass and reducing your metabolic rate and the speed at which your body burns fat. Weight training causes your metabolic rate to remain increased post workout and you continue to burn fat way after you have put the weights to bed.

So now you know you need to do resistance exercise you also need to know that the program you begin on will not continue to give you results forever. You will need to change it up in order to re-challenge your muscles and continue to see gains. Your muscles will adapt and become more efficient at doing your program, the same program that caused you to hobble down the stairs due to your quads being so tired or saw you hovering over the toilet seat because your glutes and hamstrings hurt for days will not always give you the same results. You will need to change your program every 6-12 weeks depending upon your level of experience - so those of you who have been lifting weights but doing those same weights for the last 6 months and seem to have hit a plateau - keep lifting the weights but its time to make it tough again - change your reps, sets, increase your weights - anything to shock your body and cause it to work hard again.

It is always useful to ask the advice of a qualified fitness professional when embarking upon or changing your programs. Feel free to post a comment, ask a question or contact me at fineforminfo@bigpond.com and I will do my best to answer any queries you may have, you might even want to join one of my outdoor group training sessions held in Centennial Park. I have mum's and bub's sessions during the week along with a Saturday morning session for anyone who wants to join in and get fit, healthy and sexy for summer. You may also want to check out the website of a good friend of mine Jessica Taylor, she offers both pre and postnatal training also within Sydney's Eastern suburbs - see the link in the sidebar.

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