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What If You Needed To Do LESS In The Gym To Have BETTER Results?

What If You Needed To Do LESS In The Gym To Have BETTER Results?

I love my job as a coach and personal trainer, and I’ve seen many things in the gym since I’ve started out. One thing I’ve noticed is that some people, especially younger guys, are doing way too much in the gym. Workouts lasting 2 hours or more are not that uncommon. The problem: Your body has only finite resources, and yes, overtraining is real.

What if I told you that you could have better results by doing less in the gym?

Some of the greatest in bodybuilding (and many others, including myself) use one approach to build a muscular and lean body. Mike Mentzer did it, Arnold Schwarzenegger did it, and even Tim Ferriss did it: They all used whole body routines for huge size gains before starting with different body part splits (focusing on one or two body parts per workout).

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Now, before some of you get upset, I’m not recommending training the whole body to everybody, or all year round. This is for beginners and intermediate lifters (1 Rep Max: Squats; 1.6 x bodyweight, Bench Press; 1.2 x bodyweight, Deadlifts; 2 x bodyweight). If you fall into this category and you’re interested in making some serious gains, both strength and size-wise, then keep reading. (By serious I mean something along 10-20 pounds of muscle in 10 weeks).

Here are 3 reasons why you should give whole body routines a try.

1. Effectiveness

Do you want to know why Mentzer, Schwarzenegger, and Ferriss use whole body workouts? Because they work. If you’re familiar with the Pareto Principle, then you know what I mean with The 20%. Nothing beats whole body routines when it comes to strength and size gains, hands down. They focus on the most important thing: Compound movements. In most of them, you squat and bench twice, and deadlift once per week. You do the most effective exercises to build muscles, and you do them often. Kinda makes sense, doesn’t it?

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They’re great for working on weaknesses, too. I’m having some difficulties at the moment activating my hamstrings during squats. That’s why I’m doing a few sets of swiss ball leg-curls after squatting. Do you have a lagging body part? No problem: Pick up an exercise to hit that particular area, and do it at the beginning of your workouts. A smart routine includes 2-4 compound movements and 1-3 isolation exercises per training session. Do 2-5 sets of each exercise et voilà – you’ve got your perfect full body routine!

2. Technique

Because of the high frequency of the main lifts, whole body routines are great to improve your form. If you really want to get better at squatting or overhead pressing, squat and do overhead presses often! Ever wondered why martial artists are great at what they’re doing? It’s because they practice the same movement and over until they know it by heart. Sure it’s boring, but it works.

3. Timesaving

Why go to the gym 6 times a week if you can have the same, or even better results, with 3 weekly workouts? Full body workouts simply give you the most bang for your buck. You don’t need to do 100 rep curls or the 8 brand new Men’s Health exercises for toned abs. A 15-30 minute warm-up and 45-60 minute training makes a total of 90 minutes; 3 workouts x 90 minutes = 270 minutes = 4.5 hours per week. You hit the gym 3 times a week, and then you rest, eat, and grow. I love training, but I also enjoy many things outside the gym.

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An example of a solid training program

Monday and Friday

  • Squats 2 x 5-8
  • Incline Bench Press (10-20°) 2 x 5-8
  • Chin-Ups (supinated grip) 2 x 5-8
  • Triceps Pushdowns 2 x 8-10
  • Calve-Raises 2 x 8-10
  • Ab-Roll-Outs 2 x 8-10

Wednesday

  • Deadlifts 3 x 5-8
  • Dips 2 x 5-8
  • Overhead Press 2 x 5-8
  • Cable-Rows 2 x 5-8
  • Curls 2 x 8-10

2 x 5-8 means 2 controlled sets of 5-8 reps (working sets) after warm-up and warm-up sets. In other words, pick a weight you can do at least 5 reps with. If you can do more than 8 reps, increase weight by 2.5-5 pounds. Same weight for all working sets. Rest between 2 (for isolation movements) and 5 minutes (for compound movements).

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Split training has its time and place. However, most people will benefit more from whole body routines. Many of my clients tried this routine (or very similar ones) and the results were more than satisfying. Sometimes less is more.

Full body workouts might not be on vogue anymore, but people like Reg Park and Vince Geronda knew their value. They’re effective, great for improving form, and even save you time. What are you waiting for?

More by this author

Roberto Corbacio

I empower people

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Last Updated on September 4, 2020

How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle to See Results Fast

How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle to See Results Fast

There’s a lot of confusion, mystery, and desperation around how to lose fat and gain muscle. We applaud body transformation pictures we see on Instagram, Facebook, and magazine covers but are never able to replicate the results ourselves.

Well, that mystery is over because I will tell you exactly how to achieve those results in this article.

The journey to getting there is straightforward but not easy. Most people give up too early in the game, when they stop making visible progress.

Keep reading to learn how to utilize your metabolism and the laws of muscle building to lose fat and gain muscle fast.

Skyrocket Your Metabolism to Lose Fat

Learning how to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time is one of the biggest misunderstandings of body transformations because they are opposite metabolic processes.

To lose fat, you must have calorie deficits each day, and to gain muscle, you must be in a caloric surplus, but you cannot do both at the same time.

When you look at pictures, it looks like it can be done simultaneously, but what is actually happening is a change in fat and muscle percentages.

If your weight stays the same through your journey, and you lose body fat, your percent of lean muscle mass automatically goes up by default. You didn’t gain any muscle, but your fat and muscle ratio percentages have shifted.

Calculating Your Calories to Lose Fat

There are many good calorie calculators out there that will give you an estimate on how much to eat to start losing fat for weight loss. You usually need to cut about 10 to 15% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) calories to start the process.

You can find a visual explanation of TDEE below[1]:

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Use TDEE to learn how to lose fat and gain muscle.

    Remember that the calculators are just an estimate. It’s up to you to track your measurements and to adjust your caloric intake to ensure you’re getting the results you’re looking for.

    Metabolism calculators take into account four different ways your body burns calories to come up with your TDEE, or how many calories you burn in a day:

    • Resting metabolic rate
    • Thermic effect of food
    • Thermic effect of activity
    • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis

    Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

    This is your baseline metabolism at rest, or how many calories your body needs to survive if you spent the entire day lying in bed awake.

    RMR accounts for about 60 to 75% of your total daily energy expenditure. Your RMR is mostly determined by how much you weigh.

    A heavier person has a higher RMR than a lighter person, even if the lighter person has a higher lean muscle mass, because the metabolism of muscle only contributes to about 20% of your total RMR energy expenditure[2].

    Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)

    You’ve heard that to lose weight and gain muscle, you should be eating lots of protein. This is true for a number of reasons:

    • Lowers your intake of other types of foods, like processed carbs.
    • Increases satiety, so you continue to feel fuller, longer.
    • The building blocks for your muscles are found in protein.

    About 30% of the calories from protein intake are burned off during the digestion process, which includes absorption and waste removal of it. Eating more protein as opposed to other macros increases the amount of calories burned during digestion. That’s why you feel fuller with a higher protein diet.

    Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA)

    The calories burned in TEA are relatively minor in your entire TDEE equation. TEA is any calories burned during official exercise, like going to the gym, doing an aerobics class, or going for a run. It covers any exercise you do outside of your normal activities.

    Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

    The calories burned in NEAT is the big game changer for most people and can vary up to 2000 calories burned per day between people with identical RMRs[3].

    For the majority of us, when we’re done with our workouts for the day, we don’t do much else for movement. We spend about an hour in the gym, and instead of using the other 15 hours awake as an opportunity to move and burn more calories, we spend it sitting.

    This is how there can be such a big difference between the amount of calories burned between two people who have the same RMR.

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    Outside of your gym workout, any additional body movements count towards burning additional calories. The quickest way to add this to your day is to make everything you do as inconvenient for yourself as possible.

    Examples of inconvenient activities that count towards NEAT include:

    • Taking the stairs versus the elevator
    • Parking farther away
    • Getting up to change the TV channel versus using the remote
    • Pacing and walking while on a phone call instead of sitting down

    Increasing your NEAT goes a long way to helping your burn calories faster, leading to quicker fat loss. For more ideas on how to make life a little more inconvenient to up your activity level, check out this article.

    The Laws of Building Muscle

    Congrats on reaching the stage where you want to tone and get some definition! Learning how to lose fat and gain muscle isn’t an easy process, so if you’ve taken it on, that’s a huge step.

    To build muscle, first you want to increase your calorie intake.

    Based on your TDEE, you want to add about 10% more calories as a starting point. This is enough calories to build muscle, and any excess can lead to fat storage if you’re not training hard enough or aren’t active enough.

    Again, be sure to track your measurements and adjust your calories if necessary.

    Second, follow a muscle-building program that you can sustain for at least 3 to 6 months.

    Consistency is key with building muscles because they need to be stimulated and broken down on a regular basis in order to build back up. You want to strength train at least twice a week for at least an hour each time to start getting results.

    Of course, more often is better but requires better planning and a more complicated body parts training plan. So, start simple if you’re a novice. It’s not necessary to train 6 times a week unless you’re training for a competition.

    Progressive Overload

    Muscle needs to be challenged in order to grow. You need to gradually and consistently increase the amount of load and volume you are lifting.

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    Load means the amount of weight you’re lifting during weight training. Up to a certain point, it becomes unrealistic to keep adding pounds to each exercise every week, at which point you need to switch exercises and work on your weaker points to break that plateau.

    However, the goal with load is to keep increasing the amount of weight you lift.

    Increasing the volume you do is another method to progressive overload. Volume means the total number of reps for that specific exercise. If you’re doing 3 sets of 12 reps, it means you’ve done a total of 36 reps.

    But increasing volume doesn’t mean doing super high reps of 20+ unless you’re training your muscle for endurance versus strength.

    You want to use a challenging weight and be able to lift more of it each week through increased reps and sets.

    Here is a visual explanation of how you can engage in progressive overload[4]:

    PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD FOR MUSCLE MASS by @jmaxfitness - Visit the link in my bio to claim your free 1-week muscle bu… | Muscle, Gain muscle, Weight training workouts

      Training Intensity

      Paying attention to what you’re doing is required if you want to lose fat and build muscle because you want to build and improve the mind-muscle connection to optimize growth.

      A healthy mind-body connection means you’re able to better feel your muscles working during each lift.

      You know you’ve picked the right weight when the last 2 to 3 reps of your intended rep range is challenging. On occasion, you want to push past the burn and muscle fatigue for the last reps.

      This little bit of pushing past the discomfort is the difference between an average body and a body with more definition. Lifting almost to failure increases muscle recruitment, metabolic stress, and anabolic recruitment to grow muscles.

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      Proper Recovery

      This is the most overlooked aspect of building muscles. We focus too much on pre/post workout meals, macro tweaking, and supplements, forgetting that we already have the ultimate tool for recovery: our own body.

      For best recovery practices, allow at least a day, but no more than 3 days of rest between workouts that stress the same muscle group. Overtraining results in diminished exercise capacity, possible injury, and illness.

      Remember, muscles are broken down in the gym and built outside of it during recovery.

      Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep, and be mindful of your stress levels to optimize recovery time. A lack of sleep and excess stress will spike cortisol levels, leading to hunger cravings, decrease regulation of burning fat, and cause faster aging.

      You can learn how to lower your stress levels fast here.

      Stop Program Hopping

      Every day, there is new workout, new exercise, new program on a website, in a magazine, or in your social media feed. No wonder we’re tempted to try a little bit of everything!

      Frequent program hopping stops you from getting any results.

      When you change programs too often, you don’t make progress on each exercise. It becomes hard to gauge whether you’re getting stronger or even getting results because you’re not allowing enough time for your body to adapt.

      Strength is a skill that needs to be built and developed by practicing it consistently. If you’re changing the skill set too often, you won’t know if you’re improving, and, therefore, cutting yourself short of future muscle gains.

      Conclusion

      The steps to losing fat and gaining muscle are simple, but the journey to get there is not.

      Tracking and measuring your calories is the quickest way to lose fat, along with increasing your activity level outside of the gym. Having a stronger, more toned body can be yours when you follow the laws of building muscles consistently.

      Applying these methods will guarantee that you get the results you’re after!

      More on How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle

      Featured photo credit: Benjamin Klaver via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Cheat Day Design: What is TDEE?
      [2] International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders: Determinants of energy expenditure and fuel utilization in man: effects of body composition, age, sex, ethnicity and glucose tolerance in 916 subjects
      [3] Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: Variability in energy expenditure and its components
      [4] J Max Fitness: PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD FOR MUSCLE MASS

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