Most workout enthusiasts have the same goal in mind: lose fat, gain muscle. With each step on the treadmill and each pump of iron, exercisers around the world can almost be heard chanting to a rhythm: ” fat, bad! Muscle good!” Despite the common goal and war cry, we all make different, sometimes feeble, and often in vain, attempts at success. So, just how do we lose fat and gain muscle?
Gaining muscle is one piece of the puzzle. In order to gain muscle, muscles must be used regularly. Walking on the treadmill is great for burning calories and getting your heart rate up, but in order to build muscle, you must do weight-baring exercise. Machines that utilize resistance as a means of weight or free weights are a great way to gain muscle. However, just as we all differ in our approaches to exercise, our bodies differ in our reactions to it. Women, especially, want to steer clear of heavy weights unless a bulky, muscled form is what you are seeking. Instead, try smaller weights with larger repetitions. This type of exercise will build muscle slowly and tone the muscle you have. Believe it or not, adding weight to your exercise routing will not only help you build muscle, but will also help you burn fat. For those women who are looking for a bodybuilder form, or more likely, for most men out there, lifting larger weights will result in the desirous muscle form you are looking for. Be sure to drink plenty of water, even if your workout consists solely of weightlifting. Muscles need to be hydrated to stay strong and maximize the workout.
Just because the treadmill won’t build muscle doesn’t mean it isn’t worth having. Cardio workouts burn calories and help the body burn fat. The body burns fat as fuel when the body has oxygen in it. The body pumps oxygen into it through cardio workouts. Therefore, with regular cardio workouts, the body will burn fat! Also, leaner muscles burn more fat, so building muscle will also result in loss of fat. In addition to the cardio workouts, maintaining a diet that is less in calories than the body burns daily will result in weight loss. Determine your caloric needs based on level of activity and subtract a certain number of calories per day. Keep in mind, the type of calories in your intake will also determine weight loss success or failure. Obviously, a diet of candy, despite a lower total number of calories per day, will not support weight loss or help the body build muscle. Increasing activity is another way to lose weight and fat without cutting calories.
So, the next time you’re in the gym looking enviously at the woman next to you with defined calves and shoulders or the guy in front of the mirror with the chest the size of the Incredible Hulk’s, just remember the rules of fat loss and muscle gain.