Thursday, June 3, 2010

Why You're Not Getting The Results You Want, Part 1

Rather than create one super long blog post, I'm going to address one factor per post of why people don't get the results they want.

These are not in any particular order since what might be relevant to one person may not apply to another.

Reason #1: You spend all (or most) of your time doing cardio.

I'm not one of those trainers who tells clients not to do cardio or that it's bad, etc. If someone really likes jogging, I'm not going to tell them to stop. However, if their primary goal is fat loss and their exercise time is limited, I will tell them that steady state cardio is definitely not the most efficient way to trim down.

With all the information out there, it surprises me that so many people still believe that cardio is the most important type of exercise for fat loss.

Research conducted by Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D., an exercise and nutrition scientist at the University of Connecticut, has shown that aerobic exercise is not king when it comes to fat loss.

Volek's team took overweight study participants, put them on a reduced calorie diet and placed them in one of 3 groups.

* One group did no exercise.

* One group performed aerobic exercise 3 days a week.

* One group performed aerobic exercise and strength training 3 days a week.

The second and third groups exercised for the same amount of time. In other words, the aerobic plus strength training group did not spend twice as much time working out as the aerobic only group.

The results? In 12 weeks, all 3 groups lost about the same amount of weight, approximately 21 pounds per person. (See why I always say good nutrition is the most important component?)

The more important result? The group that incorporated weight training into their exercise dumped 5 more pounds of fat than those who didn't lift weights. Almost the entire 21 pounds they shed was pure fat! The other two groups discarded 15 pounds of fat but also lost more than 5 pounds of muscle.

Says Jeff Volek, "Think about that. For the same amount of exercise time, with diets being equal, the participants who lifted lost almost 40 percent more fat."

Various other studies have shown that weight lost by low-calorie dieters who don’t strength train is, on average, 25% muscle and 75% from fat.

That may not mean much to those of you who obsess over the number on the scale but it should.

This photo above compares the space taken up in the body by 5 pounds of fat versus 5 pounds of muscle. Because fat is bulky and lumpy, it takes up more space in the body. A 145 pound woman with a body fat of 18% will look better and be smaller than a 145 pound woman with 30% body fat, even though they weigh exactly the same amount.

Can you see how slimmer you'd be if you shed 20 pounds of fat compared to 10 pounds of fat and 10 pounds of muscle? The scale would register the same but you'd definitely be smaller if all the lost weight came from fat.

And isn't that the point?

So, if you're trying to slim down, make sure you include strength training in your exercise program.


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