Body Fat Training

BODY FAT TRAINING

Tackling the challenge of changing body composition is an exciting journey. When you are ready to begin, both mentally and physically, that motivation and energy needs to be immediately harnessed to a plan of action. In the next few paragraphs I’m going to address some of the key tenets of body fat training. This is indeed a general overview, but my intention is for you to walk away with a greater understanding of how I approach these situations with my clients and create programming that gets results.

The presence of an excess amount of body fat is a clear and quantifiable sign that you are lacking balance. I’m not a big fan of “BMI”, but in most cases (non-athletes) it does the job.

Formula: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703

BMI

Weight Status

Below 18.5

Underweight

18.5 – 24.9

Normal

25.0 – 29.9

Overweight

30.0 and Above

Obese

Height

Weight Range

BMI

Weight Status

5′ 9″

124 lbs or less

Below 18.5

Underweight

125 lbs to 168 lbs

18.5 to 24.9

Normal

169 lbs to 202 lbs

25.0 to 29.9

Overweight

203 lbs or more

30 or higher

Obese

The first box is your status given your BMI. Very simple, and straight, forward information. The second box is giving the weight ranges based off of a height of 5’9”.

Working with a weight loss client, my initial assessment always incudes weight, body fat, and BMI measurements. These give a solid baseline to work off of moving forward. Nutrition is the next topic of conversation. Here I utilize a food journal. The client is assigned the task of writing down everything they eat and drink for a week. This only works if 100% honesty is given. From this I can establish patterns and ask poignant questions (the “why”). Body image is a process. We begin by working backwards, creating a roadmap that got you to where you are now. We then work forwards with new planning, techniques, and strategies to cement new habits into your lifestyle.

My expertise and main area of interest is in prescribing and planning effective training sessions based on goal and desired outcome. We first must establish what type of movement you enjoy, or have enjoyed in the past. If you’ve lost weight before, what worked? How long did it work for? Why did you stop doing it? Answers to these questions help us in your program design. Your complete physical activity history is crucial in this process. If you liked playing co-ed volleyball in college, there is a good chance you might enjoy group exercise, and a more social setting for your fitness. If you enjoyed distance running, there is a good chance you may enjoy cardiovascular fitness training. These are just two examples, but hopefully you see what I’m getting at.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to fitness training for weight loss. The first is the idea that long, low-mild intensity cardiovascular workouts are the best way to go. The theory here is that it takes 30 minutes for your body to begin burning stored fat; so a more patient, persistent approach to exercise is needed. These workouts are 60-70 minutes. The second school of thought is that it is best to utilize high-intensity interval training to attack fat loss. These workouts include maximal effort intervals, followed by periods of rest and generally last about 30 minutes total length. The catch with high-intensity intervals is that they increase EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This causes an increased metabolic effect, burning calories throughout the day, giving you a larger total caloric expenditure.

Both of these methods work. Not everyone will have an equal preference for one over the other. My opinion is that you should utilize both methods in your weight-loss training plan. The more discipline we can place in your physical and nutritional life, the more effective and efficient we will be in achieving success. The confidence that will come from knowing you can, and have done, both methods is not to be taken lightly.

The next piece of the programming puzzle is strength training. Here our goal is to increase your lean body mass, build your confidence in your body, and make you more efficient. Strength training is the bind that ties. You are building a new you, laying a solid and broad foundation for the future. Specific, personal, and customized planning is employed to ensure you get the biggest bang for your investment (time). These sessions are generally 30-45 minutes of full body circuit training. Our focus is on movement, not simply resistance, weight, and repetition.

When we train to decrease body fat and improve our body image we are essentially changing our lifestyle. We are instilling healthy habits that are repeated throughout each and every day for the rest of our lives. This creates permanent, lasting change.

Last, but certainly not least. It’s not easy! Arm yourself with a strong supporting cast, and an eagerness to stay the course. Invest your time and resources in knowledge and guidance. Never stop learning and experimenting with your own life.

Intervals

Intervals

I just finished reading an article in the New York Times about HIIT, or, high intensity interval training. The title of the article, “How to Get Fit in a Few Minutes a Week” caught my eye, as titles like that usually do. The article does a good job of using science and study to give evidence based recommendations to the reader without too much complication in application. The concern is benefit and improvement in aerobic endurance capacity.

The “hacking” of fitness and health is extremely popular. The common theme is that we don’t have time to workout anymore. One hour of physical activity is just too daunting of an endeavor for the common human. The reasons why this is so are far too many to discuss here, so in interest of sticking to the topic I’ll move on to the nuts and bolts of interval training.

The body adapts very quickly to the stress we place upon it. If we do the same thing, at the same intensity day after day, week after week, our improvement stops, and as is often the case, overtraining and a loss of fitness can take place. Not good. Doing intervals is an effect way to layer differing intensities on top of a solid base aerobic fitness foundation.

  • What I mean here is that after running 50 minutes, 6 days per week at a moderate intensity, for 8-12 weeks it would be wise to substitute a couple higher intensity interval workouts into your week. You’ve got a base, now we can work on getting faster, building speed and power, 30 seconds of very hard effort followed by 60-90 seconds of recovery jogging, for as many as 10 repetitions.
  • Or, speaking in terms of strength training, instead of doing 4 sets of 15 kettle bell swings or burpees, resting between sets you would do 8 sets of 20 seconds of exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This varied demand takes us out of a certain comfort with the exercise and training, forcing us to adapt and become more efficient in the movement.

These are just two examples of application. Implementation of interval training is not a daily occurrence. Recovery is essential to improvement and sustained fitness gains. A good standard to follow is 48 hours between these workouts. Here, we are not talking about complete rest. It is always advisable to perform a lower intensity, endurance based or corrective exercise on these recovery days. Looking at our week of training, usually 6 days, we can space these sessions on days 1/3/5 with our targeted aerobic/endurance or corrective/recovery workouts on days 2/4/6.

Creating a flow in our training is essential. When thinking of efficiency don’t focus on cramming the workout into 8-12 minutes of pure sprint/recover training. Instead focus on optimization of those 30-60 minutes you are working on your fitness. In the gym take 3 full body exercises: burpees, kettle bell swings, and ball slams. Use an 8 x (:20/:10) or 4 x (:30/:30) format for each exercise, resting 3-5 minutes between them. Simple and effect application for 4-6 weeks, followed by assessment of progress toward your goals is the standard assignment.

Remember. Know your desired outcome (point B). Whether you are trying to get fit from a long period of inactivity, diligently training for a competition, or fixing a problem or weakness in your fitness (mental, physical), you need to keep an accurate assessment of your training.

As Dr. Phil Maffetone (endurance athlete coach)  says: Work + Rest = Training