One of the biggest questions I get asked as a personal trainer is "How long will it take for me to look good naked?" Haha, Well not quite, it's generally "How long will it take to get a six pack?"
This is quickly followed by "How do I lose body fat?", "How do I get stronger?", How do I tone up?" Obviously I get other questions from athletes and people wanting to do specific events but generally it’s these are the questions I get in a consultation.
These are all good questions but when it comes down to it there are really only 5 answers/tips that I need to say. In this article I aim address and answer them.
Let's start with a little background.
What is Body Composition?
Body composition is the combination of two different types of mass. Fat free mass and body fat. Fat free mass includes non-fat tissues, bones, water, muscles and your vital organs. Body fat on the other hand is the fat found within the body. This can often be referred to as muffin tops, beer bellies and bingo wings.
To work out your body composition it’s your body's relative amount of body fat to fat free mass. One method I have used in the past is taking skin fold measurements using calipers. Typically speaking people with a higher body composition will find general every day tasks harder than people with a lower body composition. People with a higher body composition wont be able to move as freely, feel lethargic, and typically be unhealthier than people with a lower body composition.
With the obesity epidemic in full flow, comparing ourselves to what we perceive to be no normal in this day and age is having a knock on effect. The "average" and "normal" weight we see nowadays is an obese weight. So here are my 5 tips to avoid falling into a trap.
At the end of the day to improve your body composition you have to eat less calories than you use"
Take Care of Your Diet.
This may seem like an obvious tip, if you are reading this article and expect ground breaking tips throughout, I’m sorry there just isn’t one. At the end of the day to improve your body composition you have to eat less calories than you use. This allows the body to use stored up energy (fat) as the body’s fuel.
A good starting point is to start eating nutrient dense foods. These foods contain a lot of nutrients and relatively few calories. Start to look out for food that contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates and lean protein. The best way to ensure you are picking these foods up in the supermarket is to stick to the outside aisles. This is where all the good stuff is, the closer you get to the centre of the supermarket you will notice everything is in cans, processed and very sweet.
Fruit and veg, whole grains, seafood, lean poultry and meats, beans (not the baked kind), eggs and natural unsalted nuts is a good heads up.
Start taking note of what you are eating, if you feel bloated, get stomach cramps or generally feel like crap afterwards take note. This is your body telling you that it doesn’t want it. Keeping track of your diet doesn't need to be difficult.
Eating less processed food is a great way to keep on top of your diet. In today’s society where everything is fast paced, working long hours, I understand that convenience is key. If you eat less processed food, the more nutrients you’ll get with less refined carbohydrates. The classic example of refined carbohydrates is white bread and white rice.
Plan your meals at the weekend, go out and get a big shop and that way you won't be tempted to "nip to the shops" to pick up something processed like a ready meal. Not only will you eat better food, you'll also save yourself some cash.
the more you move the more calories you burn "
Again nothing groundbreaking here but the more you move the more calories you burn. There are several million ways in which one can exercise while i'm not going to write them all down, I will mention a couple different forms.
Resistance training - lift something heavy with correct technique. The body loves exercise, that’s what we’re designed for, we’re not built for sitting behind a computer screen day in day out. So by performing resistance based exercises you will build more muscle, therefore burn more calories. After a well structured session in the gym you can actually continue to burn calories for a good while after your session. Just by having a good session in the gym doesn't mean you can go stuff your face afterwards, plan what you eat. A high protein nutrient dense meal is a great way to go after your workout.
High Intensity Training (HIIT) is one of the most effective training methods to burn fat and help on your road to a good body composition. HIIT burns fat and gets you fit by improving your cardiovascular fitness. This form of training isn't easy but as that saying goes, nothing worth fighting for is easy otherwise everyone would have it. HIIT session don’t need to be long, twenty minutes tops.
HIIT involves short burst of maximal effort exercises, a typical session may be 20 seconds of work followed by 40 seconds of rest. It’s as easy as that. In fact why not download my free HIIT workout.
Rest and Recovery
Everyone one has heard of R&R, rest and recovery. Athletes swear by it but I am not talking them i am talking about you. Let’s say you are working out three to four times a week, you are putting your body through some stress. It’s vital to have some down time, this will allow the body time to repair and strengthen itself between workout. Sleep is a good place to start, by getting in seven to nine hours a night is way to allow the body time to heal. Another form of rest and recovery is not taking it so literally, walking for thirty minutes round the neighbourhood is great, it can take your mind off the gym, your diet, work and any other stress you may have. The vitamin D from the sunlight and the fresh air is a great way to recover.
A training log is a great way to monitor how the body feels after exercise. Filling out a training log will help determine recovery need and whether or not I should change up your programme before its planned.
Most people underestimate the importance of staying hydrated for improving body composition. Did you know that almost two thirds of the human body is made up from good ol h20. Staying hydrated help with removing waste, toxins and regulating body temperature. It also aids your body’s metabolism, curbs cravings and therefore is vital for fat loss.
As a general rule of thumb I recommend drinking between 2.2 litres of water for women and 3 litres of water for men. If you don’t like the taste of water there are ways to add some flavour by adding some, watermelon, cucumber, lemon or lime to the jug, bottle or glass.
The bottom line is that if you want to see change in your body composition you have to be dedicated. Speaking about doesn't get the job done, you physically have to put the hard work in. If you have a personal trainer, trust them. At the end of the day they are experienced and will have you on the right road to your goals.
Be best best you can be, there is an athlete inside all of us, we may need to change a couple things in our life to break them out. I firmly believe everyone has what it takes to make the change, it’s how bad do you want it. Do you want it as bad as you want to breathe, that's when you really want to make the change. It won’t happen overnight, it may not happen in 6 months but 12 months down that when you may notice a difference. Are you willing to make the commitment?
It’s all very well me saying what I have just said but trust me, the more work you put in the better the results and I can guarantee you how you handle yourself will change too. You may become more confident which will have a positive effect on your life.
I hope I have helped highlight the key areas to achieving a better body composition, if you would like further advice or you're ready to make the change I am happy to help.
My name is Calumn, founder of CD Fitness. You’ll find me in and around the gym and helping like minded people get the results they deserve. I enjoy everything from keeping fit, yoga, snowboarding, coffee and making people happy. If you would like to be apart of the bigger community join my Facebook group, Healthy Living With CD Fitness Coaching is a must.