Following on from our post about diet & nutrition, the second question people ask us frequently is “what training should I do and can you write me a plan?” Firstly we have to say we cannot write training plans for people because we are not qualified to do so.
The training you do depends on your goals. If you want to run a marathon your training will be very different to someone wanting to compete in a strongman competition for example.
Mrs C: We currently train for health and aesthetics. We find that most people who get in touch with us want to improve their looks and their overall health so most of you who read this blog will likely want to train for health and aesthetics too. However, people also have different goals when it comes to training for aesthetics. To explain this further take a look at this photo…..
Both these women have what many would describe as a ‘desirable’ body. Some women will prefer a slender yet softer look like the woman on the left and some will prefer a more muscular ‘toned’ appearance like the woman on the right. Neither is right or wrong. People have their own preferences and the way they want to look will influence the type of training required. To get slender a good healthy diet is required and cardio exercise will help to burn excess body fat. Lifting weights will also help to burn fat and it’s a common myth that to lose body fat you need to spend hours running on the treadmill. A combination of both will ensure a healthier body and adequate fat loss. Men don’t often struggle to get their heads around lifting weights but women often worry about lifting weights for the first time. They worry about the men in the weights area staring at them, they worry about not knowing what to do and the biggest one of all is that they don’t want to get bulky and look like a man. WOMEN WHO LIFT WEIGHTS DO NOT GET BULKY!!! Unless of course they are supplementing themselves with anabolic steroids. Women do not have the testosterone levels to build mass like men and therefore will never become beasts!!!
Mr C: As has already been covered, guys don’t tend to have such an issue with the idea of weights. In fact, they often have the opposite problem – they can sometimes get hung up on building size and lose perspective! The equivalent range for guys would look something like this:
The same set of guidance actually applies to guys though, in that a good, comprehensive weight routine will aid in shedding body fat (which has to be done to achieve either result from above), but it does need to be supported by a sensible amount of cardio. Where women tend to be reluctant to lift, guys tend to be reluctant to do cardio. For both men and women, the balance has to be there to lose body fat, and once weight loss has been achieved you can tailor your programme to work towards your chosen end goal.
Mrs C trains for more of an athletic muscular shape and her training involves lifting weights and performing cardio as part of a set routine. Mr C also follows a similar programme, and trains for a lean and muscular look but without too much bulk. The way we train helps us to build muscle and reduce body fat but the training is always changing depending on what we are working on. We recently went through a bulking phase to add more muscle and our training became very weights focused with minimal cardio. We are now on a cutting phase to reduce the body fat gained during the bulk and hopefully once the cut is complete we will hold onto the muscle we gained and eliminate the fat. This phase includes more cardio. We still train 4-5 days a week with weights to maintain what we have gained. All these changes in training are of course supported by dietary changes.
So, in a nutshell whether you are male or female if you want to lose body fat doing a mixture of cardio and weight training will help you to achieve this (when eating adequately). Even if you are trying to gain mass you should still incorporate some cardio into your routine as it’s very good for your heart and your health in general. It also helps to keep your metabolism firing. Those of you wanting to gain some serious mass should focus on heavy weights and spend most of your training time in the weight room. If getting slender is more your thing you may want to focus your training on cardio and support it with weight training to prevent your body burning off your lean muscle and also to improve your bone density. Lifting weights has been shown to increase bone density which is important for everyone. As we age we are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis but women in particular are prone to this following the menopause so any increase in bone density is going to be beneficial to you later in life. We believe that everybody should do a mixture of weight bearing exercise and cardio but what you focus on will depend on your goals.
You can find hundreds of starter guides online for men and women who want to get started with weights and there are lots of videos on youtube to check technique and form. We recommend if you are totally new to lifting weights to seek the advice of a personal trainer who can show you around the equipment. This can also help to reduce any anxiety about training in the weight room. You don’t have to train every session with a PT but 1 or 2 session may help to get you started and get a plan devised that you can follow on your own.
A great resource is http://www.bodybuilding.com/ Don’t be put off by the name it isn’t a site just for guys wanting to get massive, it’s a great resource for anyone wanting to train.
In terms of cardio there are many different types you can engage in. If you feel you need a bit of reassurance and some motivation group exercise classes may be helpful. Perhaps you enjoyed a particular team sport in the past like football or netball that you could get involved in again. Alternatively if you like the outdoors you could get involved in running or cycling. The gym will also have many cardio machines available to you like the treadmill, the static bike, the rower and the stairmaster to name a few. There really is a lot of choice and you can use the equipment to do cardio at an intensity to suit you and your goals. For example you may want to do a long low intensity session on the stairmaster and set the machine up to run at a slower pace for a longer time. Alternatively you may want to try a HIIT (high intensity interval training) session on the same machine. This involves a relatively short workout time of around 20 mins but the intensity goes up and down in cycles. A cycle may be 30 seconds high intensity, 30 seconds low intensity. When on a high intensity cycle you push yourself to your maximum capability then recover when the intensity is reduced…. and then repeat the cycle. HIIT is very effective at burning fat and you can read a little more about it here http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/high-intensity-interval-training-the-ultimate-guide.html
Training is much the same as diet, its individual and depends on your goals but essentially if you are looking to lose weight and improve your health anything that requires you to move more and expend more energy than you are used to is going to help.
Most importantly no matter how hard you train it’s never an excuse to over indulge in eating junk food. No amount of training will make up for a poor diet. Your nutrition makes up 80% of your results and your training makes up the remaining 20%, so eating an entire pack of biscuits and then saying “it’s ok I went for a 30 min run” isn’t going to get you the results you want… in fact you may actually gain fat!
No one expects you to go from the sofa to lifting like Arnie over night. Make small changes and as you adapt keep adapting your training and you will soon be building the body of your dreams.
Mr & Mrs C