“I lift weights for 1 1/2 hours – 2 hours 4x/week and I can’t gain any muscle or get definition.”
You think I’m kidding, but people actually tell me this stuff. And here’s the kicker…they’re not lying. This is the truth.
As you well know by now (hopefully), the main issue with Americans gaining weight and having a variety of cardiovascular related disease issues is that we eat too much and don’t exercise enough. It’s not really rocket science. The equation hasn’t changed much over the past decade:
Burn More Calories than consumed/day = Weight/Bodyfat Loss
Consume More Calories than Burned/day = Weight/Bodyfat Gain*
*this is in the absence of hypertrophy-type exercise
What about all the hormonal issues, genetic and metabolic issues that people are dealing with that may lead to weight gain? Yes, they exist, but I think we have been putting a bit too much emphasis on those issues over the last couple years. If you’re following the above equation and can’t lose bodyfat, then go to your physician and get a physical to find out if, in fact, you do have something medically that must be dealt with. Otherwise…get to work.
So what’s with “Stop Resting/Work Harder/Do More Table Pushaways?”
First, let’s agree that everyone has the same 24 hours/day. So be honest and decide what is realistic for you to achieve with health/performance goals with the time you have to spend. If your goals are out of balance with the time available, you either need to sacrifice time in other areas so you can use it for exercise or modify your goals to match your time. Now let’s get down to it.
1. Rest Less = Burn More
I love it when I see people in the health club sitting around reading the paper in between sets, or even when they are doing cardio. Then the same person makes one of those statements up above. Anyone home? Of course you can’t hit your goals…you’re wasting too much time.
Mistake #1: Most people rest too much in the gym. It is more beneficial to rest less and work more in the gym.
When you’re in the gym, stop resting. The goal is to burn calories to create that caloric deficit (and increase Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption…but that’s for another blog). You’re not in high school anymore. You’re not not trying to become Mr. Olympia (I hope). So stop worrying about how much you can bench or how big your biceps are (in truth, nobody really cares anyway). Use your “rest time” effectively. I hate it when people tell me they don’t have time for core or cardio or balance training or corrective exercise work. YES YOU DO! Do it during your down time.
Instead of doing what I call a Straight Set routine (do a set of reps, rest, repeat), start doing Tri Sets or Mini Circuit workouts.
2. Work Harder
Another favorite statement is the “I do cardio for 3 hours everyday” claim. If it’s actually true…great. But if you’re not seeing results…not great.
Mistake # 2: Putting in the time but not the effort to burn enough calories (and see results).
If you do one of the workouts I just recommended, chances are your intensity will automatically go up. But, it is still important to to simply work harder. If you are working at intensities that do not challenge you to a level of fatigue, you’re probably not working hard enough. This is true of resistance training and cardiorespiratory activity. No challenge = Body has Adapted = Less Calories Expended = Less Results.
If you put the concepts of Work Harder and Rest Less together, you should get the idea of more workout density. That is what you want…more bang for you buck…more calories burned in less time.
3. Table Pushaways
Can’t take credit for this one. Got this idea from Mike Boyle (Nationally Renowned Strength & Conditioning Coach). Here’s the final deal: if you want to get in caloric deficit to lose bodyfat, it is a lot easier to NOT eat 500 calories/day than to eat it and have to BURN an extra 500 calories/day.
Why? Takes one decision not to eat 500 calories. Takes about 30-60 minutes (depending on exercise intensity) to burn off 500 calories.
So do some table pushaways and don’t eat as much. Eat 5-6 smaller, balanced macronutrient meals each day.