Look Good Naked: Strength Training 101 (5 keys to sexy)
JT brought sexy back on the stage, but I want to bring sexy back to your body. Let’s get real for a moment. We all have different goals when it comes to working out. Some people want a beach body, others want to lower cholesterol but, in the end, the common denominator is better health.
The Lion’s Den has a different purpose to many of our members, but one thing rings true throughout the gym: if you want to lose weight and gain muscle (or just get that sexy back) you must eat right and lift heavy.
Cardio vs. Strength Training
Weight loss for most people means cardio. Lots of cardio. Running, the treadmill, elliptical, the dreaded stair climber. It’s true that cardio gets your heart pumping and burns calories, but it also burns your lean muscle counteracting your ability to burn fat, which, after all is what you are looking to get rid of. If you want to incinerate your body fat, it’s time to look at strength training. Here’s the thing, cardio boot-camps, boxing classes, and spinning – are great to get your sweat on but building lean muscle through strength training transforms your body into a fat burning machine. Plus, once you step off the elliptical, fat-busting comes to a grinding halt.
3 Reasons to Consider Strength Training Over Cardio
Higher rate of metabolism:
After working out your body needs to replenish itself to a state of normalcy. When you complete a workout, your body goes into what we call, post exercise consumption. That’s a fancy way of saying that your body needs to “chill out” and get back to a resting state. This process taxes your body (which is why post workout health is super important) but has a direct impact on your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate). Simply put, your body requires more calories to maintain muscle than it does to maintain fat.
Strength training prevents disease:
Yeah, that sounds obvious, but fitness and training is not created equal. Unfortunately, new clients come to us only after they’ve been diagnosed or have had little success with cardio. Strength training makes you healthier. Reduction in high blood pressure, blood sugar control, cholesterol, sleep disorders like sleep apnea and the late-night killer, insomnia.
Athletes don’t look the part because they run 6 miles every day. Elite athletes, like, let’s say Lebron James, must function at an extremely high level. Their body must operate like a machine. If you want to perform like an athlete, steady state cardio is not going to get the job done. Short story: focus on compound, multi-joint exercises – ah hem, strength training.
5 Keys to Shred Your Body: The 6-Week Summer Shred
#1: Meal Prep Monday
Abs are made in the kitchen not in the gym. What you eat determines how successful you will be in your program, therefore it’s important that you are prepared to eat often and snack right. Meal prepping is the best way to accomplish this.
The goal is to make sure you are hitting your recommended macros each day. Make sure a meal is balanced with lean protein, carbs, and vegetables.
Here’s how I handle my meal prep:
I use the same shopping list weekly
I buy my groceries on the same day (this helps me curb spending as well)
I cook all my food and meal prep on Monday
I place them in these nifty little containers
I carry them with me in my gym bag
Here are a handful of meal prep videos I’ve done over the years. Check them out, they are still relevant.
Fast Forward to 6:00 minutes to see the meal prep
#2: Know Your Macros
Nutrition, as you know, is the cornerstone to any fitness program. When counting your macros, you are tracking the percentage of protein, carbs, and fats that you eat daily. You are not starving your body – in fact, when counting macros, you are making sure that you are feeding your body high quality nutrition to make you more efficient.
*Note that this is not, and I do not recommend the Macrobiotic fad diet.
Here’s why counting Macros benefit your strength training:
Eating by Macros are customized to you and your goals.
You get to eat often and feel great.
Meal planning makes sense and keeps you aligned to your goal.
Helps with portion control – you need to be sure you are within limits.
Helps guide you to eating whole foods over processed foods.
Here are the Macros You Need to Measure:
Carbs are good, and yes, you should eat them. If you are pushing hard in a strength program, healthy carbs will be your friend. Stick to carbs that come from staples in your meal prep. Good carbs include foods like leafy greens, onions, cucumbers, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, and Ezekiel bread / muffins.
Proteins, because they are your muscles best advocate. Grab a shake post workout or as a snack during the day. Stay away from fatty burgers and hot wings. Stay clean and look for things like turkey breast, ground turkey, skinless chicken breast, fatty fish such as sockeye salmon, herring, eggs, and nuts.
Healthy fats are critical to a great metabolism. Skip the pizza and opt for essential fatty acids like coconut oil, avocado, almonds, chia seeds (with peanut butter on Ezekiel… yum. Give yourself a treat and slip some dark chocolate into your day.
#3: Pre-Workout Warm Up
Pre-workout warm ups seem to get pushed aside as if it doesn’t serve a purpose. Warming up is not just about getting your muscles lose. A good warm-up helps to get your blood flowing, literally. Increased blood flow caused by a semi-taxed warm-up helps to reduce and, in most cases, eliminate post work-out muscle stiffness and injury. If you want to ensure a big fat burn during your strength training, spend the time necessary on your warm up.
A proper warm-up is most likely more intense than a 45-minute work-out most people run through in the gym.
#4: Break Often and Drink (water)
We can take this one in 2 steps:
A gallon a day keeps the tummy aches away. That’s not scientifically proven and I can’t tell you that’s the right amount for your intake, but I can tell you, it’s what the coaches ordered. Why? Let’s start with preventing dehydration (which is an awful feeling) and the fact that your energy levels will skyrocket through the roof.
Drinking the proper amount of fluid will increase your recovery effort and help to promote muscle gains.
Get the rest you need between sets. Lifting is not a race. It’s about technique and building strength. I like to say that my athletes should be able to talk to me but not sing. A prolonged rest between sets is recommended, especially if that rest is going to give you more power in your next set. I give our groups about between exercises (strength sets not Tabata) so that they can push to their max with each exercise.
#5: Go Heavy and Hit the Big Muscle Groups
Fat burning comes along with building lean muscle. You’ve seen these people in the gym, hell you may have done this yourself. Low weight, high reps, no sweat. These are endurance-based programs, and while important, they do not focus on strength or making you stronger.
Put down the baby weights and go heavy. One of the best ways to incinerate fat and burn calories all day is to lift heavy. Post work-out, while you are working at your desk, this is where the burn will come from.
Here are my 2 top reasons to go heavy:
Heavy lifting increases muscle mass, more lean muscle mass results in an increased metabolism, burning more calories for longer periods of time.
Strength training empties the sugar jar. High reps, with a shorter resting period trains for endurance and efficiency not strength. Lifting heavy depletes your muscle of it’s glycogen capacity (stored sugar). When this happens repeatedly your body begins to store these sugars in ways that allows you to use them as energy rather than fat storage.
So, What Do You Do Next?
If you want to get stronger and shred your body, you can join us for our 6-week summer shred at the LionsDen.