The Benefits of Improving Your Body Composition By DS Contributors

This month, we decided to outline some of the benefits of improving your body composition (this goes for both males and females).
Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of why we do what we're doing in the gym and the kitchen - let these few points serve as a reminder!

By decreasing your body fat percentage, and (at the very least) maintaining current levels of muscle mass:

• You’ll have a higher metabolic rate, making it easier to stay lean.
• You’ll reach your strength potential faster by building muscle first and then stimulating the neuromuscular system with heavy loads.
• You’ll be healthier and have a stronger immune system.

Unfortunately, a lot of people find they don't get the results they’d expect when trying to put on muscle and lose fat.

Mistakes are common, but easily avoidable if you follow a few simple principles in your training which we can go over now...

#1: You’re Overweight and Insulin Resistant

A common mistake people make is to think that they’ll just pack on some muscle and then worry about their body fat later.

Nice idea because the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate, but there’s a catch: One of the most important factors that influences muscle growth is the sensitivity of the lean tissues in the body to the hormone insulin.

The sad truth is that the vast majority of the population has some degree of insulin resistance even if they’re lean. Plus, different tissues in the body have varying degrees of sensitivity to insulin.

One of the most important things we do here at The SCI as part of the 8 Week Body Tranformation, and with our personal training clients, is 'reset' as many hormones as possible, both with strength training and nutrition.

Insulin is often referred to as the 'Master Hormone' and if your insulin management is not up to scratch, your muscle gain or fat loss journey will be difficult.

Insulin is a very anabolic hormone and it will drive nutrients into muscle cells, whereas in an insulin resistant state you are much more likely to store the food you eat as fat.

#2: Inconsistency or Not Prioritising Lifting With Multi-Joint Compound Lifts

Inconsistency in training can be defined as any of the following:

• Skipping workouts.
• Not having a pre-set workout with specific set/rep/rest schemes, or not completing workouts according to plan.
• Doing random workouts—lifting one day, a group class the next, and cardio after that.
• Mixing cardio and lifting in the same session.
• Not giving full effort 99 percent of the time. There will be hard days in the gym, but those are the ones that make you better if you give it everything you have.

Building muscle tissue and losing body fat (as far as training is concerned) both require the same thing - Hard Work.

The sets and reps and subsequently weights and rest periods may differ depending on the chosen goal, but big exercise like to Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Row, Dip, Pull-up, Leg Press will all offer a myriad of benefits, as they are the exercises that recruit the most muscle fibers.

Prioritise these exercises and results will follow.

For a customised strength training or fat loss programme, speak to Alex or Martin

#3: Not Eating Enough

Despite it sounding counter intuitive, this goes for not only muscle building, but fat loss as well.

High-quality calories are king when it comes to achieving either goal.

Of course the amounts will vary!

A lot of people go wrong with calorie intake and eat too little in an effort to also lose fat, thereby depriving themselves of nutrients and energy needed for recovery, or they eat enough, but choose foods that are nutritionally poor.

You will get the best body composition results from training by providing your body with high quality foods that are the most nutritious, but generally lower in calories. You know what these foods are because your being told to eat them all the time: meat, fish, eggs, whole dairy, green and colorful veggies in general, dark-colored fruits, nuts, seeds, tea and coffee.

Plan every meal around a protein, beneficial fat and vegetable and consider getting workout nutrition in the form of whey protein because it far out performs other protein sources when it comes to optimizing body composition.

#4: Doing Cardio For The Goal of Health or Fat Loss

A common mistake is to think that to improve conditioning, or train for healthy cardiovascular function, you have to do aerobic exercise like running or cycling. In fact, any physical activity that is challenging enough will improve heart and lung health and function. You can get “in shape” with cardio or by doing high-intensity training, either with lifting, sprints, or some other interval mode.

Therefore, the only reason to do cardio would be if you are training for an endurance event, or you really like it and your primary reason for exercising is enjoyment.

Aerobic exercise will reduce your muscular gains and halt fat loss because it triggers different pathways in the body, leading to something that is known in science as the “interference” phenomenon in which people who lift weights and do endurance exercise simply don’t see the muscle gains or fat loss they’d expect.

Fix It: If your goal is to build muscle, lose fat, and improve health, you’ll get better and faster results from adding high-intensity efforts into your workouts. Ditch anything that resembles steady-state cardio in favor of interval training or strongman workouts. Interval workout should be less than 25 minutes long and metabolically taxing with short rest periods and intense work bouts. Do them separately from your weight training workout to maximize effort and recovery.

By DS Contributors and Coaches from The SmartCoach, Alex Shoebridge and Martin Shyvers.

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About the Author

Martin has been a lead trainer in the Health and Fitness industry for over fifteen years, successfully managing a team of fitness professionals at a London fitness and rehabilitation centre. In the last ten years he has qualified as a National Level Strength and Conditioning Coach as well as an NLP Practitioner and Hypnotherapist. These skills have been used to help many clients achieve their personal and professional goals. His expertise ranges from simple weight loss and conditioning, to postural realignment for those with injuries or back pain, all the way up to sports specific training for athletes, as well as nutritional advice.

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