After my first couple of months as a Very Personal Trainer for GymBox, I am seeing things in a very different way in terms of training and fitness information. Let me explain.
The majority of gym members believe that they have their training programme exactly the way it should be. That is mistake number 1. Mistake number 2 comes a from a lack of proper nutrition understanding, especially when the individual is seeking very 'specific' goals. The real mistake here is not sourcing out and experimenting with different approaches, as the real king is experience, and better still, failure.
Summer is around the corner and everybody wants to be in the best shape possible. That generally means removing unwanted body fat from all the typical places! Number 1 on everyones list, the abs! Well today I am going to outline for 3d-muscle.com my 10 Step Approach to Visible Abs! The combination of techniques in this article will have you burning fat at an alarming rate, so don't be shocked when your old jeans don't fit after 2 weeks, and you reveal muscle in places you never knew existed!
The more steps you follow, the greater your gains (and losses of fat!) will be! In an ideal world, all 10 would exists for the duration of your training! But starting out with 3 or 4 small changes and working you way up to the full 10 is a fantastic challenge for anybody, and I hope you all achieve it! Read on to discover 10 Steps to Lean Abs..
Determination and visualisation. I have discussed it before, and have decided to put it as number 1 on the list for good reason. You must have a goal, make it something specific, like 'I want to lose 4 kg' in 4 weeks. IMAGINE what your body will look like 4 kg leaner! Imagine how you will feel knowing you have accomplished something so personal, and so unique! You must be able to see it, otherwise you can never reach it. This will put you in the best frame of mind possible to go out and reach your target. Determination will drive you through your hard workouts, keep you on track with your nutrition and allow you the confidence to get what you want.
Water Intake. Yup, we are back to the issue of water again. Drinking water WILL HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT. People believe that drinking too much water will for some reason mean they become heavier!? Just to let you guys know, If you do not drink enough water, your body will hold on to any water it does have, meaning yes, you are carrying excess water! By constantly drinking water throughout the day, your body will be much more accomplished at regenerating itself, leading to better performance, clearer skin, controlled hunger, and many many more benefits. Read my All About Water article to find out loads more! Drinking plenty of water DURING your workout is another sure fire way to get the most out of yourself! Always bring a bottle of water with you to the gym, keep empty bottles in your car or in your bag, this will mean you can never be without water!
Warming up for your workout. People don't do it. How can you expect to have a good workout if you did not prepare yourself for it? Would you have a good day if you woke up, and walked straight out the door to work without a shower, breakfast, brushing your teeth or even putting your clothes on?? I don't think so! The same applies for your workout. Not just the time it takes to get physically ready, but mentally ready. Your workout is not going to be a walk in the park (which you don't need a warm up for btw!) so you should take a little time, 6-8 mins should be enough, to bring your mind and your body together before you start lifting weights and putting your body under all kinds of stress. Put some earphones in your ear, zone out of this world, and zone it to your workout. For the next 1 hour, nothing els matters.
Wear Layers of clothing. There are obvious reasons for this. You sweat more. The more you sweat the harder you are working. Wear a pair of shorts, with jogging pants over the top. Wear a vest, a t-shirt and a jumper. Wear a hat. The longer you go without removing an item of clothing, the better! When you become too hot to concentrate you know its time to remove some cloth! The great thing about using this technique, is it is fool proof! It works, for those brave enough to try it!! If its lean you want to be, put some clothes on first!!!
Stick to the basics. Basic compound exercises use more muscles of the body, and give a much better overall workout. If you are really serious about cutting down your body fat, you will need to give your body a full workout. This means cutting out some of the smaller, unnecessary isolation exercises, like bicep curls, triceps pushdowns, even chest flys and normal sit ups or crunches! Keep it simple, Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, chest and shoulders, pull ups, push ups, rowing is great, dynamic exercises also cover huge muscle combinations in the body, things like star jumps, burpees, lunges and others will have your body responding quicker than any single joint exercise!
Train your legs. As the largest muscles in the body, legs produce the most amount of hormones in response to exercise. The legs are capable of moving huge amounts of weight, as well as conducting multiple complicated patterns of movement, so the diversity of leg training is something to be embraced. Muscle building and fat burning have a a huge reliance on the capabilities of your legs. If you train your legs effectively, you will be rewarded with bigger biceps, and leaner abs. Guaranteed.
Repetition ranges. In order to trigger fat burning, your training will have to be slightly different. You will need more reps than usual. Guys who are looking to build muscle usually fall in to the strength building zone, lifting heavy weights for 4-6 reps. This will build strength and some muscle to a point, but a diverse training programme will cover more than just strength. I believe you should include a variation of rep ranges in your workout. Save 1 set for a heavy lift, but concentrate more on high repetitions under very, very strict form. 12-20 reps over a full range of motion. No need for cheat reps, as higher rep ranges are more challenging mentally and physically, and take longer to complete than lower rep sets!
Training 2 Large muscle groups on the same day, for instance chest and back together, will allow you to use more compound movements, perhaps you could use a giant set, tri sets, super sets, drop sets or pyramids to combine a number of exercises. This leads me nicely on to Step 8.
Rest periods. The rest period is something that is misunderstood and therefore, mistreated. If you want to burn fat, you will need to keep your heart rate up, and your muscles working longer and harder. This means shorter rest periods. How short? ASAP (as short as possible) for example, a giant set is 4 or more exercises, one after the other, with NO REST in between. This means you put the barbell down after your set of bent over rows, and pick up the dumbells straight away for your set of bench press. No 30 seconds break in between, as this is taking away from your fat burning potential! If you are doing lets say 4 sets of squats, you should look to rest a maximum of 60 seconds in between sets! Even rest as low as 30 seconds for the smaller muscles, but as discussed before, most of your workout is going to be using the larger muscles of the body!
Meal Frequency. Ok, so I am going to go in to a little more detail in this section. How many meals, timing meals around your workouts for fuel and recovery, good food choices, what time is the best to eat them, things to avoid eating!
How many meals? a minimum of 5
This means eating every 2 hours over a 10 hour period. These meals will have to be smaller than you are most likely used to, but on the bright side you get to eat more often, and a larger variety of food! Metabolism is on everybody lips. Read my article All About Metabolism to find out what you can do to speed your ups and start burning those calories! Here we are focusing on eating more often! Small portions, that will leave you satisfied but not full up!
Eating before your workout. Now I would say that you should aim to have had at least 2 meals before you workout, this will guarantee that at no point will you be working on 'empty' and have a good back up of nutrients to fuel your exercise and mental state! What to eat before a workout? You should definitely include some slow release carbohydrates for the sustained energy you will need. Oatmeal is a great choice for before a workout, whole grain breads with turkey or chicken and salad work well, pulses such as beans and lentils are another excellent choice as they also contain good amounts of protein. I know it sounds strange, but including some fats before a workout along with the right carbohydrates can do wonders for your energy levels. Too much and you risk become sluggish, too little and you risk using protein for energy instead of your recovery!
Here is a sample of my daily meal plan for a workout day:
6.00 am 1 bowl of oatmeal, 1 banana, 1 glass orange juice
8.00 am 4 scrambled eggs, 1/2 cup beans, BCAA tabs
9:30 am pre workout drink (h-blocker)
10.00 am workout
11.15am glass of full fat milk with added glucose (sugar) 75g BCAA tabs
12.30 pm chicken breast roasted, green salad, 1 glass orange juice
3.00 pm tuna and pasta salad small, piece of fruit
5.00 pm handfull of almonds, protein shake, 1 piece of fruit
8.00pm chicken or turkey or tune sandwich on brown or oatmeal bread, glass of juice or milk
10.00 pm protein shake with milk full fat
This meal plan includes 6 whole food meals, and 2 protein shakes with added nutrition. I am a firm believer in adding nutrients to the protein shakes. Protein is useful, but becomes useless when relied upon for the bulk of your nutrition. Try eating a piece of fruit along with your protein shake, adding milk instead of water, have some dry roasted nuts to up the calories, or even a favourite of mine, adding oatmeal powder for some slow releasing energy!
If you look at the meal plan, before my workout I have had my highest quality carbohydrates, the oatmeal and the beans. This will ensure that I am 100% ready for the workout ahead. After the workout, I take milk with 75 grams of simple sugars. This is my insulin spike which replaces all the used muscle sugar, and readies my body for the recovery and rebuilding phase which comes next. The programme also includes more proteins as the day goes by, once again aiding my body with the recovery process. As I mentioned before, protein is important, but becomes vital AFTER your workout, and is still the bodies last choice for energy production. It makes sense then to feed the body more protein after the workout than before, but of course you need protein all day long as well!
So thats it. 10 Steps to follow for a leaner, meaner physique! Remember, the more steps you take, the better your results. Don't be disheartened if you have set backs. Nothing is perfect, and the more you work at something, the easier it will become. Begin with the first step of visualisation, and take it from there. I am sure that EVERY individual could lose 1-2kg PER WEEK, with the right mental attitude, the right information, and of course the right training!
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