Back to the Basics
For a recent corporate wellness presentation, I was asked to present employees of an insurance company with information on body composition, weight training and nutrition. There was no shortage of knowledge about celebrity diets and “magic pill” solutions from the participants, but few knew “the basics”. Television ads, magazines and false information result in a generally uninformed society willing to jump on the next product that promises them a sexy six pack.
Let’s begin with a quick introduction to body composition. Our bodies are composed of 2 elements; fat mass and fat free mass, otherwise known as lean mass. That’s it. Everyone reading this has probably heard of body fat percentage. “Bring it down… I want to be below 15%.” But what is it? Fat mass is fat. Lean mass is the rest of your body including bones, organs, and muscle! The fat mass you maintain divided by your total body mass equals your body fat percentage.
Always equaling a combined 100%, when fat mass or fat free mass goes up, the other comes down. 85% lean mass? You guessed it, equals 15% fat mass. Our goal should be to increase lean mass, as this turns our body to “autopilot” calorie burning mode. You see, every pound of muscle added to your body burns an approximate 50 extra calories per day. Add 10 pounds of muscle, burn an extra 500 calories a day without working out! Yes you can read that part again. Without needing to work out, your body will burn an extra 500 calories per day.
Resistance training is crucial for building muscle and increasing lean mass.
Being busy in this day and age, maximizing time becomes extremely important! Involve large muscle groups in workouts. Why spend 30 minutes in front of a mirror doing bicep curls when squat and presses can be added to the exercise? Triple the effectiveness, triple the results, 1/3 of the time. If done efficiently, an individual can spend 20-30 minutes doing a workout and have significantly better results than a typical 2-hour workout someone else may have. Start with multi-joint while your body is fresh and has the most energy.
The question I often get asked is, “How much should I be working out and how often?” Everyone’s body is different. A triathlete is going to have different bodily demands than an individual who is getting accustomed to his or her first fitness routine. The general rule of thumb is resistance training 2-3 times per week. If you can only squeeze in one workout, it’s better than nothing… but shoot for 3.
During the workout, target large muscle groups. Work out the legs, include push and pull exercises for the upper body and don’t forget some core work. Plan on completing 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions (of each exercise) so pick an appropriate weight or intensity. You shouldn’t walk out of the gym feeling like you need a wheelchair but you know how hard to push yourself. Make sure you feel accomplished at the end of every session. Get in, get out, and get results.
-Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow-
Mike Sherbakov, CSCS, CPT, RYT