A few tips to help you achieve your fat loss goals and stay on the right track:
5. Workout With A Partner
Working out with a partner can be a fantastic way of getting yourself to the gym, and staying there for the long term. Making a commitment to the gym by paying for a membership is one thing, but when you commit to another person that you will be there with them, it is not so easy to slack off.
The motivation factor of exercising with a friend or someone you are in a relationship with is a great push for those days when one of you isn’t in the mood. Chances are high that the partner will drive you to get there and keep the desire going. Having a partner can also help to push you beyond an exercise limit that may be self-imposed and they will also be there to encourage you for a job well done. Couples who exercise together benefit from the physical activity of doing something outside of the “norm” and it can bring them closer as they achieve individual health goals.
A side benefit of training with a partner is having someone available to assist or spot you on certain lifts and help correct any flaws in your form that simply cannot be seen other than by a third party.
4. Exercise in the Morning
It is a well accepted fact that testosterone levels impact our ability to make and maintain muscle, the more testosterone, the more muscle we are able to acquire. Secondly, it is also common knowledge that testosterone levels vary according to age (the older we get the less testosterone we produce). The big secret though, one that many do not appreciate or understand fully, is that testosterone levels will change in an individual throughout the day!
Generally our testosterone levels will peak at around 8:00 in the morning – scientifically explaining why men sometimes wake up around this time “pitching a tent” or with “morning wood”. But it’s not our fault ladies, really, it is the highest level of testosterone that we will have in the day that causes this.
Testosterone levels will gradually decrease throughout the morning after this high, and then dip greatly in the afternoon/evening time. The presence of females can raise a man’s levels, as can competing in any type of competition, and even more so if emerging victorious in such a competition. But generally testosterone levels are highest early in the day and lowest around bedtime.
To take advantage of this scientifically proven fact it makes sense to exercise in the morning when our testosterone levels are highest, to achieve the greatest muscle growth from our efforts. More muscle translates to lower body fat percentage, better overall appearance, and higher metabolism.
3. HIIT Melts the Fat
When it comes to cardio training I am admittedly not much of a fan because I prefer to use my energy resources and time for muscle building, and cardio goes against muscle growth. But cardio training is a necessity when looking to be the best you can and cut your body fat beyond “normal” levels. When I do train to burn fat though, High Intensity Interval Training is the only way I go. Personally I enjoy doing sprints, sprinting 100 meters or more and then jogging back, and repeating until I feel absolutely gassed. Other favorites are Dumbbell Step-ups, dumbbell or kettlebell swings, or the Farmer’s Walk as you see in the Strong Man competitions. For the Farmer’s Walk I grab the heaviest dumbbells I can and simply walk 25 steps, put them down, rest, and then keep repeating. If I am not gasping for air I will increase the number of steps, but that is hardly necessary.
The benefit of doing your cardio the HIIT way is that you burn more calories in a shorter period of time, fat burning is increased (especially the “after burn”), more of the HGH hormone is released, and it is highly unlikely that you will become bored of it. There are many exercises that can be performed in the HIIT manner, so the limits are often what you have available at the gym or home. Generally a HIIT session can last between 15-30 minutes.
One final note on High Intensity Interval Training – when I end my workout with a HIIT cardio burn I do not utilize a body part I have just trained. For example, the day I train legs I won’t over-train my legs by further exercising them with Dumbbell Step-Ups.
2. Go Nuts, Eat Nuts
Almonds, Walnuts and Peanuts are some of the most macronutrient-rich foods available and they also serve to satisfy the salty craving that many people look for in a snack. On average, 15 Almonds will provide a great snack coming in at 105 calories with 3.5 to 4 grams of protein, 4g of carbohydrates, 9 grams of heart healthy fats and are rich in Vitamin E. Walnuts are a fantastic food jam-packed with healthy Omega 3 fats, polyphenols (anti-inflammatory) and protein for those muscles you are carving. An ounce of Peanuts (I mix equal parts barbecue with unsalted plain peanuts to keep the flavor up and the salt content down) will satisfy most cravings and provide 7g protein, 6g carbs and 13g of good fats, topping off around 150-160 calories. Not a day goes by that I don’t snack on at least one of the super snack foods.
1. Weigh Yourself Weekly
A lot of people will tell you to forget the scale and focus on the mirror – I say forget what they say and use the scale to your advantage. Once you are in the 8-10% body fat range, then the scale becomes less important and the mirror is your best gauge. But for most of us trying to get down to a modest body fat number, the scale can help keep us in line, prevent us from straying too far, and provide encouragement when we are on the right track. The scale also provides a good measure for us to look back, see what our diet and exercise level was like over the past week, and make adjustments accordingly.
Finally, it is absolutely imperative to weigh yourself under the exact same conditions the same time and the same day. I weigh myself on Wednesdays, 8:00 in the morning, right after getting up and after having gone to the bathroom. I do not drink water or eat anything until after I have weighed myself. Typically I workout Monday through Friday so weighing myself on Monday doesn’t make much sense as all I have done in the past two days is eat. A Monday reading for me can be from 6-8 pounds higher (!) than a Friday weigh-in as the carbohydrates I consume are converted to glycogen and stored in the muscles. Friday doesn’t work for me either because I have been working out all week and calorie/carb restricting all week long. For me (and it may not be the case for you) Wednesday provides a reliable accurate reading. Always Wednesday, always at 8:00, and always after going to the bathroom first.
. . . next tip coming tomorrow!