Even with hours of cardio and a good diet do you feel like losing weight is an uphill struggle?
The secret is to crank up your metabolism.
What is metabolism?
Metabolism is the sum of all chemical processes that take place in the human body to sustain life. Many people are born with slower metabolisms that make them prone to weight gain. Other people---the lucky few!-- are born with faster metabolisms and seem to have no problem being lean regardless of their activity levels or dietary habits.
Though metabolic rate is largely determined by genetics, there are various ways to increase metabolic rate (the speed of your metabolism) through exercise, nutrition, and supplementation. Here we will focus solely on the metabolic impact of a properly designed exercise routine.
Top Workout Mistake #1 - Performing daily body part workouts
One of the longest running inside jokes within the fitness industry is the fact that Monday is “international chest day” where most gym-goers will do endless sets and reps of bench presses and chest flyes.
If you open the typical bodybuilding magazine, below is a great example of a training program you might come across (or some variation of this):
Please keep in mind that when you take a cocktail of anabolic performance enhancing agents, just about anything you do will result in less fat and more muscle – not to mention a host of deadly side effects and a not-so-pleasant personality!
The reality is that training your whole body more frequently will result in leaner muscle gain, greater fat loss, and more metabolic boosts than training each muscle group once per week– and the science supports this.
In a recent study at the University of Alabama, researchers had two groups of men perform two different strength-training programs with the same total training volume (sets and reps) for each muscle group. However, one group split the work across three total body workouts while the other group trained each muscle group separately one time per week. They discovered that the total body workout group gained five additional pounds of lean muscle mass compared to their body-part training counterparts.
It’s critical to understand that the more muscle you have the greater your resting metabolic rate (RMR). Your RMR is the total number of calories you burn every day regardless of activity and adding several pounds of lean muscle mass will result in an additional daily calorie burn of up to several hundred extra calories per day. This translates into an awesome fat-smashing snowball effect over the course of weeks, months, and years. Think of more muscle as the fat-burning gift that keeps on giving.
Another benefit of having more muscle is that your body’s carbohydrate tank gets bigger. You can store excess glucose in 3 places: the liver, your muscles or your fat. The human body has a limited ability to store glycogen (sugar) in your muscles and liver before it spills over into the blood stream and leads to unwanted fat gain. The total amount of glycogen your body can hold, or your sugar tank, depends on a host of factors including gender, body size, age, etc. However, by building more muscle through high-intensity training your body can subsequently store more sugar.
For example, let’s just say that your sugar tank was originally 250 grams of carbs but is now 300 grams due to intensive training and muscle-gain. The extra 50 grams of leeway before your sugar tank over flows means two things:
1.) You can consume more total carbohydrates before your sugar tank reaches capacity where you then begin to gain fat and smooth out unless that energy is expended. It’s just like when you overfill the gas tank in your car— the fuel spills on the floor and all over your hands and shoes costing you money and making you a fire hazard to friends & family. Though consuming excess sugar may not be as deadly, it’s the source of the raging obesity epidemic plaguing our sedentary society and leads to host of scary health problems like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic disorder, etc.
2.) The lower your sugar tank the more your body will revert to using both dietary and stored fat to make up for that energy deficit. Thus if you gained more muscle and simply consumed the same amount of total carbohydrates, you will automatically burn more fat for fuel throughout the day. Now if you consume less total carbs in conjunction with more muscle mass then you will be a lean, mean fat-melting machine.
Plus, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that working your entire body each workout will torch more calories and thus accelerate metabolism and fat loss results. More muscles used equals more total work performed equals more total sugar, fat and calories expended-- all good stuff!
Lastly, it appears that it’s best to wait about 48 hours before performing your next total body workout. In multiple studies at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, researchers determined that muscle protein synthesis was elevated for up to 48 hours after a resistance training workout before it returned to normal. Performing another total body workout with less than 48 hours of recovery may not allow for adequate muscle repair thus impairing performance.
THE FIX: For busy people looking for the biggest bang for their fitness buck, best results will be achieved with 2-3 total body workouts per week with ideally 48 hours between workouts to maximize muscle growth and recovery.
Stay tuned for Top Fitness Mistake #2 - Performing marathon workouts lasting 60 minutes or more.
Best wishes for your fitness and weight loss goals,