So…….. can it be done or will you just turn an already overweight person into a more overweight person who’s fat-muscly?
In short, yes, absolutely, it CAN be done.
In fact, I’ll go as far to say that while there’s more than one way to skin the cat, this is without doubt my favourite.
But first, I digress.
In a society where rates of obesity are soaring and activity levels plummeting, there seems to be a new magic weight loss product, training method or other form of magic fix coming out every week.
In the nutrition world we’ve seen the 5:2 diet, Ketosis, Atkins, IIFYM and many others.
When it comes to training, the list is just as long but from my experience, a Bodybuilding style approach gives the best return on time invested.
Bodybuilding, Sports Model, Bikini Model, Physique, Muscle Model whatever category you want to choose are all forms of bodybuilding.
Bodybuilding techniques and methods are also often used in the world of sports performance and athlete development.
All bodybuilding really is, is a method of training where you take lifting weights and pumping the muscle as your vehicle for energy expenditure.
Now doing this as a training approach does not mean you need to get on stage in your underwear, you can imply do it for the many benefits the training provides.
Success leaves clues.
If there’s one thing we can take from the sport of bodybuilding and it’s many iterations is that these guys and gals are EXTREMELY good at getting lean.
They’re the best.
The world champions of it in fact.
And whilst the end result isn’t always what most people are after (especially as they near the end of a comp prep and/or, when using drugs to assist), it will help you gain a lean, toned and athletic look.
The more exaggerated look that the top level guys/gals achieve is often assisted with large amounts of drugs. If you are doing this style of training without the drugs, you simply won’t get anywhere near the look.
When looking to cut down on bodyfat, slowly decreasing caloric intake, while increasing or maintaining exercise output will have a profound effect for nearly all people that do it correctly.
The deficit in energy is made up for by metabolising fat stores for energy. By now I’m sure you can see how this can be of benefit to regular folk who also are looking to reduce bodyfat.
Throughout my own career as a PT/Strength Coach, I’ve become more and more convinced that the key to mastery in my trade is to become good at finding what works from different fields.
For training athletes who need to be strong, muscular, fast and explosive, I’ll use training strategies from the sport of Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting.
For clients lacking mobility and flexibility, I’ll use stretching protocols from the world of Gymnastics and Yoga.
And for weight loss clients, it’ll be more of a Bodybuilding approach.
Now, this may seem a little counter intuitive but it works a treat.
The Cardio Trap – Where most people go wrong.
The story is as old as gym life itself.
Overweight client comes into the gym.
Wants to lose weight.
Does 20-40 minutes of X-Trainer, Treadmill or stationary bike (thinking this is the best way to expend energy).
Most likely sees no change, or sees some change, doubles down on the approach, sees more change, decreases food, ends up falling in a heap exhausted and puts the weight back on……QUICKLY.
It CAN work, but only if you get a lot of other things right.
The problem is that one of the main adaptations to a lot of endurance type training is that we DECREASE MUSCLE. This decrease in muscle comes with less calorie burn at rest AND during exercise.
This is because when we are working for extended periods in the aerobic energy system, the body will respond to the stimuli by decreasing or atrophying the muscle so that it doesn’t need to supply as much oxygen to it. Fine if you’re a marathon runner or triathlete (as it’ll make you more efficient), but not much good if you’re trying to lose body fat.
You see the thing is, we can only dedicate so much time per day, week or month to training. Therefore, it makes sense to do things that not only burn energy while you’re doing it, but also while you’re at rest.
Now don’t get me wrong, cardio based training is very good for your health and is complimentary to listing weights. But resistance based training will give you a FAR better return on time invested.
By lifting weights that challenge you in the 8-20 rep range, with short rests so that you spend the majority of your 45-60 minutes working, you are actually stimulating muscle growth. You will also expend a lot of energy and TOTALLY change the way your body uses nutrients.
Don’t panic though, if you do it in the slightest of calorie deficit, you won’t put much muscle on (if any), you’ll likely just maintain what you’ve got whilst ripping through bodyfat.
So you won’t get bulky, you’ll just look better for your lifting efforts.
As mentioned, maintaining muscle is important for maintaining metabolic rate. It means you’ll continue to burn calories at a good rate when you’re not training in the gym (as opposed to what happens if you do a heap of cardio and decrease lean mass).
The sheer increase in output associated with the training, combined with controlled calorie intake will see a constant decrease in body fat as a result.
Over time it will also come with other beneficial adaptations that help you maintain a better bodyfat percentage and more easily at that.
A person with more lean mass who trains it often will divert WAAAAAY more calories away from storage (fat), and into the repair and replenishment of damaged muscle from training.
So if you’re looking to lose bodyfat and improve how your body looks, then this is where you’ll get your best return on your time.