Tag: Cardio

Building muscle is a slow process especially for natural lifters. It takes time, effort and patience to develop the physique you envisioned for yourself. I’ve made mistakes during my own journey and helped identify mistakes from clients I’ve trained and/or coached. Building muscle isn’t an easy task but by avoiding the mistakes below, you’ll increase your chances of  developing that physique you desire. 

Practice Proper Form: If you aren’t performing movements correctly, you could be wasting your time and/or putting yourself at risk for injury. Performing an exercise in a Full ROM(Range of Motion) will give you better results than a partial ROM also known as “cheat reps” especially on those big compound lifts.  I suggest everyone make a list of the exercises you perform in the gym that you’re not quite comfortable with. Then spend some time looking up tutorials or demonstrations online of how to perform them correctly. Always be a student. Always be willing to learn. That’s the recipe to become better.

Use Progressive Overload: In order for your body to change, you must continue to challenge it. Doing the same exercises with the same weight, number of sets and reps will definitely cause your muscle building progress to stall. Progressive overload simply means in order for your muscles to grow, strength to be gained or improve performance, your body must be forced to adapt to a stimulus that is greater than what it has previously experienced.  Please refer to the “Progressive Overload Is The Key To Continuous Progress In The Gym” on how you can incorporate progressive overload into your current training.

Too Much Cardio: Even though cardio is a great tool to keep additional body fat off as well as getting blood flow to muscles to improve recovery, doing too much cardio can add to muscle loss instead of muscle gain. Obviously muscle isn’t being built while performing cardio on the treadmill, stair master or elliptical therefore performing more that is needed is only adding or creating a deficit to your calories. In simple terms muscles need calories to grow. Burning too many calories doing cardio will only take away from the calories your muscle could have used for recovery. 

Track Calories: Most people typically track their calories when they are trying to lose weights but fail to do it when they are trying to gain weight. The same way a weight loss plateau can occur, so can a weight gain plateau. This is where you’ll need to increase calories to continue to gain weight at a healthy pace. If you don’t know exactly what you’ve been doing before, how can you know for sure what adjustments need to be made in the future? Easy fix just track your calories and you thank yourself later!

Drink Enough Water: The blood that runs through our bodies is primarily made up of water. Aside from delivering oxygen to muscle and organs, our bloods other function is to deliver nutrients to our cells and transport waste out of the body. This is where water consumption is very important for muscle building. Even though you can build muscle while being in a small calorie deficit, most individuals are in a surplus of calories. So the more food you eat, the more water you should drink. This allows those nutrients from our diet get to our muscles to recovery. Drinking enough water has other benefits such as preventing muscle cramps and improving muscle contractions. If you want to guarantee great training sessions, drink enough water throughout the day.

Prioritize Rest: Rest is the most important piece to the puzzle. After an intense training session, rest allows the muscles you have broken down to heal and recover. Most people have the theory that the muscle growth occurs during a training session. That is so far from the truth. In fact during training all that is taking place is breaking down muscle tissues but through proper nutrition and rest, muscle grow bigger, better & stronger.

Beginning a weight loss journey can be quite challenging. Learning about healthy food options, training routines, counting calories, etc. but once you get the ball rolling, you notice the scale moving almost immediately. Reason being is that if you’ve been eating junk for some time, your body is holding on to water due to high amounts of sodium and lack of water intake. Also lack of micro nutrients such as fiber that aids in digestion. This is very common for individuals to lose up to 5 lbs weight loss in the first week after cleaning up their diet. After a few weeks or even months of committing to your new lifestyle, you may notice the weight loss slowing down or stop all together. You may be asking yourself, “what do I do now?”.

There are several things you can do to overcome a weight loss plateau. Lets cover what you can do on the nutrition side of things. Every individual requires a certain amount of calories to maintain their current body weight. As your weight goes down, so does the amount of calories you need to maintain your new body weight. So what does this mean for you? I always suggest others to track their calories especially when weight loss is the goal. Tracking your calories gives you a baseline of what you’ve been doing in the past in order to adjust for the future. The reason for the plateau is that the calories that you’ve started out with can very be your new maintenance calories for after dropping some pounds. In order to create a new deficit, you will have to decrease your calories again to make sure your body is burning more calories than you’re consuming. Easy yet simple just make sure you don’t drop the calories too low. Refer to “Losing Weight Too Quickly? A Bad Thing” article.

For those of you who have been dieting for while and you’re calories are pretty low already, you may not want to eat less. In this case the amount of cardio that you do each week is the next thing you can adjust. As an online coach, I give my clients weekly amounts of cardio that they need to complete. Cardio adds to the deficit that you are already getting from the diet. When the plateaus come about, either adding another session of cardio or increasing the amount for the current cardio session(s), will create a larger deficit. Low steady state cardio is perfect for those who want to burn some extra calories without the feeling on being fatigue or it affecting recovery. Cardio is your friend when it comes to weight loss. Use it as a tool to complement your current diet.

Not all of us have the time to spend more time in the gym. You may be eating low calories and work a job that is highly demanding of your time and adding 15-20 minutes extra for cardio just won’t work for you. If time is not on your side throughout your journey, your training routine can be manipulated. Let’s say your current training routine has you performing one exercise at a time and resting roughly 45-60 seconds. Pairing exercises in a “super-set” will keep your heart rate up longer which will help you burn more calories. “Super-set” simply means you perform one exercise for a certain amount of reps or rep range then immediately perform another exercise and then you rest. Implementing tools such as “super-sets” increases your training intensity which can help overcome a plateau as well as get you in and out of the gym that much sooner.

These are all things you can apply to overcome your current or future weight loss plateaus. Even though they all can help continue further weight loss, I don’t recommend adjusting everything all at once. Troubleshoot the weight loss stall one aspect at a time. This will ensure that you are not losing weight too quickly and instead just creating a small enough of a deficit to continue losing a healthy amount of weight which is 1-2 lbs per week. If it isn’t broken don’t fix it. But if it is in fact broken, look for the one thing that you can adjust but is still sustainable throughout the duration of your weight loss journey.

Picture this, you get out of work at 9 pm, later than expected and the gym closes at 11 pm. You thought you had more than enough time to go home eat, grab your gym bag and head out to the gym being that you were scheduled to end work at 6 pm. Now time is not on your side and you still have to get your workout done. I’ve heard this scenario plenty of times. I can understand how someone will think of exercises they can skip in order to have enough time to just focus on lifting which ultimately ends up being the warm up exercises. This isn’t always the smartest idea. Resistance training definitely has its benefits but its also has its disadvantages. If you focus of the disadvantages, you’ll continue to reap to benefits. But if you ignore the disadvantages, you could potentially be at risk of injury during your training session. Let’s first understand the difference between “warm up sets” and “working sets”.

 

Warm up sets are typically exercise that you perform to activate your muscles, loosen up your joints and/or create a muscle to mind connection with the muscle(s). These aren’t meant to fatigue you in fact, they are meant to prime your body prior to starting your actual workout. Think of injury prevention next time you’re thinking a skipping your warm up. After resistance training for a long time, muscles get tight, joints get stiff and if you work at a desk for long hours, we need to get our blood flowing around our body before beginning an intense workout session. Let’s say for example you suffer from tight shoulders and then go on to perform the bench press, it will be extremely difficult to keep your shoulders behind the chest while pressing because you haven’t properly loosen or warmed up that muscle. There’s always a way to improve if you put the effort to get better and prioritize what needs more focus.

 

Working sets on the other hand is where you want to fatigue your muscles. Typically working sets can be 4 sets of 5 reps or a pyramid for 4 sets for 4-8 reps while increasing the weight gradually after each set during an exercise. This is where the magic happens or should I say where muscle break down happens. I’ve said this before in a previous article that in order to build muscle, you need to put your muscles through stress so that they grow bigger, stronger and better through rest, recovery and proper nutrition. The main issue is that a lot of us obsess about the working sets and fail to realize how a small warm up can increase the efficiency of our working sets and prevent injuries.

 

A weak muscle to mind connection is common for a lot of beginners. Its not necessarily a bad thing at first but without focusing on developing a stronger muscle to mind connection each session, you could be wasting precious time in the gym with little to no results to show for it. This is where a lot of fitness professional utilize the “pre-exhaust” method which means exactly what it sounds like. You choose an exercise to perform first, typically one that causes the greatest contraction to get your mind to contract the muscle with every repetition. Using the “pre-exhaust” method not only warms up your muscles, but now that you’ve established a solid connection with the muscle of focus, it makes it easier to feel every exercise throughout the remainder of the training session. This is just one example. There are many different ways to properly warm up.

 

Warm up sets should be prioritized first and should never be ignored. Squats is an amazing exercise to develop the lower body but not everyone is able to perform them. This may be due to an injury suffered in the past, mobility issues, bad form or just the way a person has been created just to name a few. I personally warm up everything when I’m preparing to squat. From ankles all the way back up to my shoulders. Might sound a bit over the top but I understand that I’m not getting any younger therefore better safe than sorry. For the average person, I will highly suggest focusing on warming up the hips and knees. This can be 5-10 minutes on the leg extension machine. Set the weight about 20-30 lbs lighter than what you would choose for your working set, perform 10-15 repetitions of leg extension focusing your mind to squeeze the quads muscles. Then immediately perform body weight squats for 10-15 repetitions to warm up the hips for 2-3 sets total.

 

Doing a warm up set such as this can be a bit boring compared to the working sets. But its one of the major keys to squatting right into your hips to generate the most power to come back up. If you don’t perform any kind of warm up, you may be surprised when you realize tightness in your hips joint during your working sets. This can create additional tension to your knees and lower back that you could have probably prevented by just warming up properly. The gym is great place to redefine who are but if you don’t take every aspect of fitness seriously, you could be at risk of hurting yourself performing an exercises you done plenty of times in the past. DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR WARM UP!

You gained a few unwanted pounds over the years and would like to start exercising to change your current lifestyle. You have a goal in mind but you just don’t know the best strategy to achieve it. Cardio will definitely help you burn calories each day, but it shouldn’t be the only form of exercise you should incorporate for long term results. I think everyone who is or has been overweight in the past like myself can agree that yes they would like to lose weight, but also keep it off for as long as possible. So your approach to change your current lifestyle matters.

 

Cardio in simple terms can be seen as a way to subtract calories from your daily diet. For example, lets say you need a 2,000 calories to maintain your current body weight and eat 300 calories over that caloric intake, in theory you will need to burn 300 calories doing cardio to prevent weight gain. I say “weight gain” and not “fat gain” because the average person can afford a scale to weigh themselves everyday but the average person can’t afford to accurately track their body fat. So cardio burns calories during exercise only but not after which is going to be very important to understand my next key points.

 

Resistance training on the other hand adds stress to our muscle tissues to break them down so that they grow bigger, better, stronger through rest, recovery and proper nutrition while burning more calories in the long term. Resistance training also adds stress to our joints to improve our daily movements. If you ever suffered from knee pains from being overweight, incorporating exercises such as squats, lunges or step ups will improve your joint strength. After consistently training your lower body, it soon becomes easier and easier to go up that flight of stairs at your apartment complex or at work that you once struggle due to pain in your knee(s).

 

So which one should you choose cardio or resistance training? If you have access to a gym or have gym equipment at home, the answer is to perform both for different reasons.Cardio will give you the added calories burn as well as improve your cardiovascular system. If you ever been gasping for air when chasing after your child, adding a form of cardio will improve your lung capacity. Incorporating proper resistance training will help you build muscle which require more calories. They more muscle you have built, the more calories you will need to eat. Who can say no to that? I still reach my weight loss goals without having to consume an extremely low caloric intake and/or having to do hours of cardio on the treadmill a day? Implementing these two forms of exercise will not only help you lose weight and build the physique you once wished for, but it will also improve your way of life so that you can enjoy the things you like to do the way you like to do them.