Losing fat is almost certainly the most common goal most people have for their bodies. Its very easy to get confused with the myriad of diets out there, many seeming to contradict each other. Dieting is really simple for 99% of people. Unless you are a competitive bodybuilder looking to get to sub 6% body fat, you don't need any drastic measures in your diet. Here are 5 key things you must have in your mind when losing fat is the goal.
1. Calories are the most important factor.
Everyone knows (or at least has an idea) what calories are, its the energy you get from food and everyone knows that too much of these pesky calories = fat! However most people don't have a full understanding of the macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) that calories are made up of. Bodybuilders and athletes know that the amount of each macronutrient we get has a huge affect on the proper functioning of our bodies hormones and the amount of muscle we have (and whether weight lost is fat and not muscle!!)
Knowing the importance of macronurtients cannot however make us forget they take second place to total calories! The total number of calories consumed (and burned) is what ultimately leads to fat loss. Even if you are consuming enough protein (for muscle growth) carbs (for fuel for training) and fat (for hormones) you won't gain muscle if you are eating less calories than you burn. The reverse is true as well, you will not lose fat if your total calories consumed are more than what you burn, even if your macronutrient numbers and 'ratios' are perfect. Now getting the right amount of macronutirents is very important to make sure weight lost is fat and not muscle, but don't forget...CALORIES IN AND CALORIES OUT!!
2. Train like your trying to build muscle.
Dieting isn't about losing weight. Dieting is bout losing fat! during your fat loss period you must try your hardest to retain all the muscle you have on your body, after all, for every pound of muscle you have your body burns an extra 50-60 calories in order to preserve that muscle. That means someone with 10 lbs more muscle than you burns 600 calories more than you by doing nothing! To keep muscle you have to train like your trying to gain muscle, that means training hard and training heavy. The high reps for fat loss and 'toning' line of thought is one of the biggest myths in training. High reps won't help you lose fat, all its going to do is make you get weaker and lose muscle. Stick with the methods that put slabs of muscle on your body in the first place and give your body reason to hold onto all your muscle! Diet and cardio/conditioning is how you peel fat off your body.
3. Keep your bodies hormones in working order.
As said already total calories is the main factor leading to weight loss and gain. However if your macronutrient numbers are way off (say only 5% of your daily intake coming from fat) you are going to seriously mess up your hormones! Not getting enough vital nutrients like protein and fat will totally screw up the natural production of testosterone, growth hormone, insulin etc in your body. All this means is muscle loss and not fat!
4. Slow and steady wins the race.
A big problem people have fueled by their desire for results NOW is to get super aggressive with their weight loss program right at the start. On day 1 they will cut their calorie intake by half, do hours and hours of cardio a day and generally make themselves miserable. This will lead to two things: 1. The sudden change will be too much for your psyche and motivation and you will end up quitting. A better idea is to increment changes in your routine slowly i.e slowly taking away bad foods you eat and slowly adding the amount of conditioning you are doing. 2. Eventually your fat loss will plateau, this is where you add something (or take away) to your routine to kick start it again e.g cutting 200 calories out or adding an interval training session 2*per week. Now if you started the diet with all guns blazing and used every trick in the book from the get go, what tools are left to kick start fat loss again?
5. Do more, eat more (in moderation)
While you can lose fat simply with a controlled diet, the results will eventually slow down. If you want further results and get really lean (or as an athlete need a good conditioning level) you are going to need to do GPP - general physical preparedness work (fitness training/conditioning). Adding conditioning sessions will increase your metabolism (if you do intense interval style training -which is what you should be doing!) and allow you to eat more calories (as you are burning more). Look at it this way, Person A burns 2500 calories a day and does no conditioning. So to lose fat this person eats 2000 calories a day (so 500 calories burned a day). Person B decides to add conditioning and so burns 3500 calories a day, he can now eat 3000 calories a day (so same calories burned per day as person A) BUT he has consumed 1000 more calories, which means - more protein to repair and protect his muscles from disappearing, more fat for good hormonal levels and more carbs which = more energy = harder training = more calories burned! Which person A or B do you think will be able to train harder and keep more muscle?! So don't go on a anorexic diet and become a zombie, train hard and eat to fuel your training.
6. Conditioning not cardio.
DO NOT DO TRADITIONAL LONG DURATION, SLOW CARDIO SESSIONS! They increase cortisol in the body, burn muscle and are sub par in both fat loss and getting fit when compared to intense interval training. If you want to get in great shape and lose fat then ditch the cross trainer! get sprinting, do barbell, kettlebell and dumbbell complexes, pull some sleds, flip some tires. Intense interval training is the way to go, its been proven time and time again in the lab and in the gym.
-Eat the right things but don't overeat
-Lift weights like your trying to put on muscle
-Gradually increase the level of dieting and conditioning
-Instead of starving yourself, fuel yourself to become a fat burning machine
-Do something hard and awesome for conditioning
Functional training is a big buzz word today, leading people to hold it as the gold standard of Fitness, but does training on unstable surfaces actually have any merit?
The term 'functional training' came about from physio therapists who prescribed 'functional' exercises in order to for their clients muscles, joints and tendons to return back to their NORMAL working state. These exercises where used to simply make the muscle/join/tendon FUNCTION again, not get bigger and stronger. Somehow, someone made the jump and thought that it would be a good idea to have everything as 'functional' as possible.
“Functional training” is definitely a hot topic – it’s also one of my biggest pet peeves! Who the hell came up with the notion that standing on a Swiss ball with your eyes closed and a finger in your nose was more “functional” than such great exercises as barbell squats, deadlifts, sled dragging, chin-ups, etc. I guess, like a lot of other good ideas, functional training became a trendy, overused and improperly implemented training tool.
These implements do have their time and place; I just don’t feel they should become the focus of an athlete’s training. The reason I say this is because in all of sports, it is the athlete that moves while the playing surface remains still. (The playing surface doesn’t move as the athlete tries to remain still!) True “functional” training should consist of applying resistance to an athlete while his/her feet are in contact with the ground. The athlete must then adapt to these forces. Also, if you’re always performing exercises on “unstable” devices, you will be limited in the amount of weight you can use. This will prevent you from overloading the prime movers of the exercise, which will limit how strong you can get.
As far as taking “functional” training to the next level, I have found that the strongman-type events have a high degree of transfer to the real world. Sled dragging, tire flipping and farmers walks are all great tools for training the athlete. All of these exercises require the athlete to counter a resistance by driving into the ground with their feet.
Generally, I like using Swiss balls, balance boards, etc. during the initial off-season training of an athlete to overcome any muscular imbalances or injuries. I am also a fan of doing abdominal work on the Swiss ball as it provides a great pre-stretch on the abs – something you can’t get by doing crunches laying on the floor.
Simple guideline to nutrition – If it ever flew, walked, swam or grew in the ground, eat it. If it was man made, leave it.
Step 1: Drop the obvious – cookies, cake, sugar, junk food and excess booze, You don’t have to be a saint all the time, try to follow the 90/10 rule: 90% of the time avoid these bad foods so that 10% of the time you can treat yourself.
Step 2: Get rid of the less obvious – These are the ‘pretend health foods’ that many consider healthy, but, really aren’t. ‘Low fat’ foods are brimming with sugar. Most cereals are ‘High fiber’ and sugar is even ‘gluten free’
Start by cutting or limiting wheat, milk and fruit juices.
Step 3: Replace these with healthy choices. Replace your pastas, breads and cereals with rice, potato’s, quinoa, oatmeal, buckwheat and lots of green, starchy vegetable’s. Replace milk with unsweetened almond, coconut and cashew milk.
Get your protein mainly from fish, white meat, beef and eggs. Don’t be afraid of healthy fats – eggs, coconut butter, red meat and nuts.
All of the above is aiming to reduce inflammation. Most modern diets are very acidic and cause chronic inflammation, not only is this the cause of most illnesses, it also hampers fat loss and muscle gain. To fight it, follow the steps above, eat a ton of veggies and drink plenty of water.
I hope this helps, if you like I have plenty of healthy recipes I can send you, do feel free to ask any questions you have about nutrition anytime.
When you watch most people trying to lose fat at gyms across the country, what you will witness is hours upon hours of mundane, repetitive and boring exercises being performed on treadmills, bikes and elliptical machines. All just going through the motions with not a sweat drop in sight! I'm not saying that you can't work hard on these pieces of equipment, but there is a far more productive way to lose fat and all it takes is 10 minutes!
The only catch is that you are going to have to work very hard, but of course if you want results that is obvious. The people in the gym going for 60 minutes on a stationary bike without a sweat drop in sight are not the ones who are going to reach their goals. If you want to torch body fat, or want to get into serious shape for your sport, then read on.
The answer is complexes - a series of exercises performed with one implement (barbell, dumbbells, kettle bells etc) done back to back, with no rest. You don't need much space and you don't need fancy equipment, all you need is a mind ready to work. For example, with a barbell you could perform 8 power cleans, 8 front squats, 8 push presses, 8 dead lifts and 8 rows all with no rest in between. That's one set. Complexes are hard work, no way around that. They require focus, discipline hard work and a tiny bit of insanity.
After one sessions using complexes, as you lie on the ground huffing and puffing, you will see how complexes blow traditional long duration cardio clean out of the water.
So what are complexes used for?
- A more effective replacement for boring cardio during fat loss training.
-Good conditioning for athletes in sports.
-An 'all round' workout you can do if you really want to train but have already done all your scheduled training in the week.
All it takes is a few sets of complexes 1-3 times a week to see amazing improvements in body composition and fitness. As the total time of the complexes last roughly 10 minutes each, its just 30 minutes of hard work a week! Complexes can be done after a normal weight training session, or by itself on a conditioning day.
When building a complex there are several points you must follow.
1.Choose the right exercises - We are talking about big movements here - squats, cleans, dead lifts, presses. Big lifts means that the larger muscles of the body will be working, and that means more calories burned. Triceps kickbacks and curls have no place here.
2.Choose the right order of exercises - Exercise order should be determined by how demanding each exercise is. The most high skill and challenging lifts should be performed first, followed by less challenging exercises. For example power cleans would be performed before squats. The reason for this is fatigue, once you get tried (and you will!) your technique will suffer, and this can be dangerous when performing high skill exercises such as the Olympic lifts.
3.Alternate working muscles - During the complex, try to alternate the muscle groups that are working i.e alternate between a pull and a press or an upper body/lower body lift. The benefit of this is simple, when one muscle is working, the others are resting = more work!
4.Pick the right weight - You are going to have to select the weight based on your weakest lift in the complex. For example if you are performing power cleans, push press, front squats, rows and dead lifts, the weakest lift will most likely be the clean. The heaviest you can go (safely and for the amount of reps you want) in the power clean will be the weight used for the complex.
5.Work had and fast - This one is simple, the harder and faster you work, the more calories you will burn and the better conditioned you will get. The second point (speed) is interesting to note when choosing exercises for you complex. The faster our muscles work, the more calories we burn. So choosing exercises where you HAVE to move fast (in order to properly do the movement) such as cleans, snatches, jumps (weighted or not) are ideal. With these you cannot simply 'go through the motions' you have to really accelerate yourself or the weight to do the movement, and that means more fat lost, more fitness gained.
6.Variation - Complexes can be varied is so many different ways. Always doing the same number of exercises with the same number of reps each is boring and unnecessary. Reps, weight, exercise order, rest periods, number of sets are just some of the ways you can vary the way you perform and improve on your complexes.
The complex in the above video consists of - 6 squats - 6 snatches each arm - 5 reverse lungs - 6 swings.
3 sets where performed with 60 seconds rest in between To improve week by week, I could add a rep every workout to each exercise, add another exercise, add weight, reduce the rest period, better my best time or a combination all of those. The variations are endless.
Here are some more examples.
1. Descending rep Barbell complex -select the weight you can do 8 good reps with on power cleans and perform without rest -
6 power cleans
6 front squats
6 push press
6 back squat
6 dead lifts
Rest 90 seconds after the first complex, then perform 5 reps of each in the next complex; rest 90 seconds, 4 reps of each; rest 90 seconds, 3 reps of each; rest 90 seconds, 2 reps of each; rest 90 seconds, and then do 1 rep of each. This complex won't take long and it will challenge you both physically and mentally.
2. Dumbbell complex
Reverse Lunges, 6 reps on each leg
Romanian Deadlift, 12 reps
Good Morning, 12 reps
Front Squat, 6 reps
Military Press, 6 reps
Bentover Row, 6 reps
Floor Press, 12 reps
Rest 60 seconds and repeat 3 times.
3. Ascending/descending rep complex
Taking 60-90 seconds rest between sets, perform 11 sets. The reps for the first set are 6, the second is 5. Go all the way down to one, and then back up. (6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). This one is an absolute killer. Good luck!
So now you have a simple, fast and effective way to torch fat and get in sick shape. All you have to do is put the work in.
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
Whether you are an athlete looking to get better at your sport, or someone just training to stay healthy, you have probably tried to lose fat at one point or another, and why wouldn't you? It makes you a better athlete, you feel better, you're healthier and you look better to the opposite sex! Sadly though, many who embark on a fat loss nutrition plan, end up failing or giving up. The blame falling on external factors or things they couldn't control, while in reality the blame is on themselves, and they most likely failed because of one or more of the reasons below.
1. YOU ATTACH A BAD MINDSET TO DIETING
Everyone starts a diet with good intentions- to better themselves at a sport, to look better or to be healthier. All great positive reasons which should fuel and motivate you to succeed. Yet most people go into a fat loss period with a negative mindset, they think of the bad parts of dieting that they will have to face, such as the hard work and the food cravings. To lesser men and women, these feelings overwhelm them and the immediate short term satisfaction of a bowl of ice cream outweighs the long term positive joy of reaching their goals. Champions, however see themselves in the future they way they would like to be, and make the training and diet decisions in the present moment so that they can achieve their vision.
To champions, the 'bad' feelings associated with diets don't signify pain, they signify work ethic, achievement, success, a resolution to become the person they want to be and the power of mind over body. A fat loss period is a time when you are bettering your self, a battle of you vs you, and until your desire to be a better athlete or lose fat is greater than your desire for 5 minutes of pleasure with a snickers bar, you won't achieve anything.
2. YOU REFUSE TO DO A LITTLE MATHS
Calories matter! To lose fat you are going to have to burn more calories than you consume, and to be sure you are doing this you will have to READ THE LABELS ON FOODS! Just because something is seen as 'healthy' (like say almonds) it doesn't mean you stuff your face with them and not gain fat. You need to count overall calories (its not hard, just read and measure out if you have to) as well as the amount protein, carbohydrates and fat you are eating.
A good basic guide would be about 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, about 0.45 grams of fat per pound of body weight, and the rest of your daily calories made up of carbohydrates. It may sound tedious but you have to get the numbers right or else you could be stuck at a certain weight and not know why. Once you start to get experienced with it all you can start to not count anything and go by feel.
3. ONE SLIP UP AND YOU'RE OVER THE EDGE
No one is perfect, and the occasional slip up with your diet isn't going to do any real damage to your end goal, the danger lies in the 'whatever' attitude that some people have. One slip up in their diet, perhaps eating a slice of cake at a birthday party (which is cool, you don't want to be 'that guy' do you?) turns into an all night eating binge. In their minds because they just messed up their diet that day, they 'might as well' just chalk this day up to a loss and go crazy! What was initially a small slip up or acceptable treat that would not have set you back at all, turns into a food craving frenzy that sets you back days. If you slip up, go on damage control! its not the end of the world, don't throw in the towel only to regret the next day.
4. TOO MUCH TOO SOON
Enthusiasm for a new diet is great (and needed) but a classic mistake made by people is to, in their huge desire to be ripped NOW, do too much, too soon. People don't want to wait weeks or months to get what they want, they want results now, and so think that the more they do the better. They suddenly switch from their junk food diets to a picture perfect healthy diet, they drop their daily calorie intake by 1500 and they go on an insane training routine. All this leads to is failure and stagnation. First off, such drastic changes will be hard to bear all at once, if a couch potato stepped into the diet and training routine of an Olympic hopeful, it would be too much change for his psyche, and soon he would give up because it was too hard.
A change in diet must be eased into, you can drop a few hundred calories every couple of weeks, switch all soda's to water for a few weeks, or replace one meal with a healthy smoothie or protein shake. These are examples of simple, small 'steps' you could take to slowly get into a healthy diet. For the experienced athlete, a kitchen sink approach still won't work, as with everything, the body adapts and stagnation will happen. When the fat loss stops, its time to adjust, you could drop another 200 calories a week or add in 1 or 2 more conditioning sessions, this will kick start the fat loss process again until you eventually stagnate once more. Then you would simply make some more adjustments. Now if you went all out on day 1 by jumping into a starvation diet and training 4 hours a day, every day, What adjustments can you make once you stagnate? You're stuck! Just as with training you must progress over time.
5. YOU COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Remember that your training and your nutrition is a battle within yourself, It is an internal struggle that you face in the war to be a better you. Your motivation should mostly come from within, your desire to get better should be for you, for your own satisfaction and pride, not to impress others and to receive attention. Saying that, you can't help comparing yourself to others from time to time, its natural, and when you do, you must do it positively. Do not look at someone whose body you want in a negative way. You can easily fall into the trap or jealously, self pity, anger and contempt that they have what you want.
This is a dangerous mindset to have, when you see those who have achieved what you desire, look for inspiration and know that they have worked incredibly hard for what they have, and once were in the same position you are in now. Look at them as examples of what can be done, and not as examples of an unreachable dream. Admiration for others is ok, but you must bring about your transformation from within. It is YOUR body and mind, who cares if that guy makes progress twice as fast as you do, did you get better in any way today? did you do everything you possibly could today to reach your goal? these are the questions to ask yourself, ignore the external if you can, focus on the internal. Its your war.
6. YOU EXPECT MIRACLES
Nothing worth having comes easy and anything that comes easy isn't worth much. Those '10 minute' ab commercials you see on TV along with the fad diets which will get you ripped without any struggle are BULL. SHIT. Anyone who is in great shape WORKED THEIR ASS OFF to get there. It wasn't a overnight thing, they made the conscious decision to go after something they wanted and to not stop until they get it.
You must know that you will not achieve your goals overnight, it will be the result of continual progression and bettering yourself every day. You must stay motivated and focused on the end result, and in those times when boredom, frustration and doubt start to creep in, you must be disciplined, resolute and hold your ground, knowing that the feeling you will get after a achieving something you striven for for so long will be worth all the blood, sweat and tears.
7. YOU DON'T TRAIN PROPERLY
In the gym train like you are trying to build muscle! Heavy weights with compound movements built the muscle you have, so keep doing them so that your body has a reason to keep all your muscle! In your fat loss sessions, make sure you do some bad ass conditioning!, If your grandmother can do it, then don't you do it! Strongman circuits, hill sprints, sled drags, barbell/dumbbell/kettle bell complexes, martial arts = bad ass conditioning. Long slow runs, exercise bikes, stair masters = lame, out of date and overrated conditioning. High Intensity training has been proven to be vastly superior to long duration cardio for both fitness and fat loss. Finally, one more more point: TRAIN HARD! It should go without saying but you reap what you sow. Put the the work in, give it your all and go the extra mile, every day.
8. WRONG CROWD
Someone once said that you are the summation of the 5 people you hang out with the most. These people you choose (or not to ) be around influence who you are as a person. If you hang out with motivated, inspiring people then it will rub off on you, alternatively if you hang out with degenerates, with no purpose or goal in life, then you will feel their negativity pass onto you. You want to succeed, you want to be better, so surround yourself with like minded people.
9. YOU LACK MENTAL TOUGHNESS
“You know that little voice in the back of your mind, telling you to stop? Well you can train that little voice. I taught mine to shut up.” - Unknown
“Me personally, I believe that it’s only pain if you acknowledge it. If someone sees it as pain, I like to describe it as something that is unusual, out of place, or uncomfortable. You have to be all about being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. In the end, there’s work that has to be done. You don’t really have the time for self pity”.-Unknown
“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”-Franklin D. Roosevelt
''A man can be beaten in two ways, if he gives up or he dies.”- Richard Machowic
“Adversity causes some men to break, and others to break records.”- Unknown
“Suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret!” -Unknown
“Nothing on earth can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”- Thomas Jefferson