Monday, 24 October 2011

Who do you want to look like?

There are many different training methods available to anyone that wants to lose weight. But which is best?

The most common option seems to be running. Many people who hate the thought of going to the gym, working out with weights, or attending fitness classes, opt to go running a few times a week in order to lose weight; but is this the best idea.

Bearing in mind that most people want to lose FAT, not WEIGHT, it’s safe to say that running ISN’T the best way to do it. There’s no doubt that it has worked for many people, but if you really want to reach your goals (which you may think are weight loss, but actually, you just want to fit into smaller clothes and look better – unfortunately, people have linked this with weight).

Let’s make it easy to see what’s better for stripping fat and building the muscle that shapes your body.

Take a look at the average marathon runner – for the most part, they look skinny, emaciated, and generally not too healthy. They may weigh very little, but they have no muscle, and no shape to them – not the ideal figure is it?

Now take a look at a sprinter. They’re lean, muscular, with good shape and muscle tone. They look athletic and healthy, and will generally have LESS body fat than the marathoners.

Obviously these are two extremes, but the bottom line is if you want to lose fat, shape and tone your body, and look and feel strong and healthy, you need to ditch the long cardio sessions and start working with high intensity intervals (sprints if running’s your chosen activity) and/or start lifting weights.

If you enjoy jogging, then by all means, go jogging. But unless your goal is to be “skinny fat” (where you weigh very little and look skinny, but still have a high body fat – mainly due to a lack of muscle), then you also need to be doing intervals and weight training.

Another easy way to see what you need to be doing, is to walk into any gym. Are the people who look how you want to look walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes, then moving across to sit on a bike for half hour and watch EastEnders? ... Or are they in the freeweights area lifting weights?

Don’t be fooled by the common misconception that cardio burns more calories. Use your muscles, and lift weights that you struggle to finish your set with i.e. if you’re aiming for 12 lifts (repetitions), you should struggle to finish the last 2 or 3.

Just take a look at British champion weightlifter Evelyn Stevenson:

Not exactly the hulky mass of muscle that people (especially women) are afraid of becoming if they lift a weight!

It should be clear, just by looking at the different athletes, which type of training will produce the best results – if you want to look like a sprinter, train like a sprinter.

This may go against what you thought was the best way to train and what you’ve been told by magazines, friends, even trainers in the gym. But really, it’s pretty obvious.

Be aware also that the same goes for diet. Just because you’ve read it, a friend recommended it, or a trainer has told you to do it, doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Even if it works – there might still be a better way, and it’s usually the most obvious.

If you’d like to know more about how best to eat and train for your goals you can download my nutrition advice by entering your name and e-mail in the box on the right, or contact me for Personal Training.