The purpose of this page is to give you:
- an idea of the sorts of things that you can do to reach your fitness goals,
- help you maintain your body once you've reached your fitness goals.
Remarkable results are possible with the proper motivation, goal setting and consistent activity.
I've found that it's best if you apply these concepts in combination:
Eat frequently: 5 meals per day (same quantity spaced out evenly throughout the day).
Eating frequently speeds up your metabolism. With a constant supply of food, and frequent physical activity, your body will be more likely to burn the calories you intake rather than "store them for a rainy day". If you eat only 1-2 meals a day your body thinks it's starving, so it gets into a mode where eventually the metabolism slows down in order to conserve energy. The body gets into a catabolic state and it starts to break down muscle tissue to get to the protein to use it as fuel. In a sense, the body is cannabalizing itself to survive. If kept in that state for too long, the body gets into a state where once it sees calories again, it will convert most of them to fat almost immediately.
So, although you end up losing weight through starvation, as soon as you start eating normally again your body says, "Yay! Finally, we have food! There must be a food shortage, so let's store most of these calories as fat so we can prevent that from happening again." The result? You ultimately gain more weight than you lost. This is why millions of people who go on "crash diets" every year gain almost all the weight back shortly after the diet ends. Starvation diets are evil and are never successful in the long term. They do more harm than good, so be skeptical of any meal plan that recommends that you deprive yourself of significant quantities of food. Food is a good thing, just use moderation.
Eat quality foods: Keep your fat intake under 40-50 grams per day.
By keeping your fat intake relatively low, your body won't have as much fat coming into the system and thus will have less to store. Simply put, don't give your body more fat than it needs. Your body NEEDS fat to function properly, but not gobs of it.
Make sure you're also monitoring your protein intake. Take in a good amount, but don't over do it. Too much of a good thing is never good. Of course, if you're doing intense weight training, you'll need to give your body the material it needs to rebuild the muscle fibers you've torn down, but be smart about it.
A basic rule of thumb for most bodybuilders is to eat the equivalent number of protein grams per day as you weigh in kilograms. (80 grams of protein per day if you weigh 80 kilograms.) I noticed that when I increased my protein intake from whatever it was to about 70-90 grams, I definitely noticed a difference in the amount of weight I put on that year. And you can mix animal protein (meat) and plant protein (protein shakes -whey or soy). If you spread it out during your 5 meals each day, it will make it a lot easier to accomplish.
Frequent and consistent aerobic activity - (at LEAST 30 minutes twice per week)
This will help burn the fat you currently have. The more aerobic activity you do, the more fat you'll burn and the sooner you'll see results. When you keep your heart rate at 80% of its max for 15 minutes or longer, your body begins to release enzymes which help to burn fat. That's why 30 minutes or longer is really beneficial. 10 minutes 6 times a week won't do you as much good as 30 minutes twice a week. It's similar to popping popcorn. You have to leave in for a while for it to get going.
Weight training (consisently - 3 or more days per week)
Muscles burn calories just by existing. As your muscle mass increases you're building a foundation whereby your body will have a REASON to burn calories, rather than store them as fat. This will help you keep the fat off a LOT easier than if you had no muscle mass at all. As mentioned earlier, that's why people who go on starvation diets gain all their weight back. They lost muscle mass and can't burn off the caloies as readily as they did before. Which is also why the term "muscle turning to fat" came about. If you stop exercising for an extended period of time, your muscles atrophy (shrink) due to lack of use. This makes it harder to burn the calories that are coming in, so the body stores them as fat. So, the outward sign a person notices is that their muscles "became" fat, when in actuality they lost muscle mass/tone and acquired more bodyfat.
Now, if you ever find it tough to make it out to the gym, (which will happen from time to time) do what I did. In my senior year of college, my course load really became intense, so I would have tons of homework each night, but I still wanted to go to the gym. So my strategy was to pack my gym clothes in the car and promise myself that before I returned home I would visit the gym and workout. I did that because I found it REALLY difficult to leave the house once I got home. So, I "tricked" myself into getting my workout over and done with, and then I'd go home and take care of all the OTHER stuff in my life. It's all a matter of priority.
Get plenty of rest: (your body needs time to heal)
Simply put, weight training tears down muscle tissue. It's the body's repair of that damaged tissue which causes muscular hypertrophy (growth). If you don't allow the muscles time to repair, you're basically tearing it down as it's rebuilding.
Not getting sufficient rest is like trying to build a house that gets torn down everyday. Each time it gets torn down, the mainentance guys try to build a bigger, nicer house but you tear it down again as it's being built. This is the concept of overtraining.
You not only want to give each muscle group a good 48-72 hours between consecutive workouts, but you also want to get a good night's sleep so that your body can repair the damage. While you're sleeping, your body releases small amounts of growth hormone to stimulate cellular repair. If you don't get enough sleep, your "rebuilding" won't be as effective.
Train your abs 3 times per week: (Mon, Wed, & Fri for 10 minutes each session).
This consistent activity will condition and train your abdominal muscles such that within 2-4 weeks you will notice a definite toning and tightening of the abdominals, and within 2-4 months abdominal definition will begin to appear (provided there's no fat covering them).
Depending on how much fat you have to lose over your abdominals will determine how rapidly you can see the results. There are lots of guys and gals out there with great abdominals, they just have a layer of fat covering them.
"My car has a great paint job...I just can't see it because I can't get this car cover off."
What really helps with abdominal training is that "slower is better". Slower movements with strict form forces you to maintain the contraction long enough to stimulate all the muscle fibers in the region.
It's because of the slower movements why the routine I do takes about 10 minutes. I teach an Abs class at our local Gold's Gym and with 10 minute ab workout sessions, 3 times per week, it takes about 2-3 weeks for your abdominals to seriously tighten up, and about 2-4 weeks from there for the definition to start appearing. One guy was in our class (16 years old) and he was thin...about 150 lbs. He stuck with our class for the whole summer and by the time he was done he had REALLY good definition. Keep in mind, the definition is really dependent on how much fat you have covering your abs. 8)
Granted, I do a lot of crunches (250-300), but I didn't start out that way. My original routine took about 5 minutes and hurt like hell (but it was a good hurt). Over time, I lengthed it to 10 minutes. Going beyond about 15-20 minutes caused two things to happen, 1. my abs start to go numb (probably due to endorphin output in the brain), 2. I get bored. So 10-15 minutes seems to be a good range. *grin*
Below is a picture I took of my abdominals.
My abs weren't like this when I was teenager. It's a side effect (no pun intended) of all the ab classes I taught during my 20's. It's possible to get definition like that (particularly if you're thin) within just a few months. You just have to be consistent, and do the routine SLOWLY. Don't go too fast. Remember that "slower is better".
E-mail me if you have any questions, need advice or just encouragement.