Personal trainer Gary Renney sets out the foundation for making fitness an integral part of day-to-day life
Looking in the mirror, the average chap may suck in his cheeks, tuck in his chin, square his shoulders, straighten his back and pull in a paunch almost unconsciously, so that before him stands a fine figure of a fellow. But his tailor, with his tape measure, will be privy to the naked truth: that slouching over a hot desk, partaking of rich business lunches, and a lack of exercise have had their effects.
Harsh diets, even harsher gym regimes, and half an hour’s desultory exercise in the morning may help a bit to shift the flab and tauten the muscles. But it is only a coordinated programme of sensible diet, gym and targeted exercises that can bring and retain the changes a man may desire.
An individual’s body weight will have increased steadily over a period of time before he decides to do something about it. Then, there is no rapid remedy. If you take into account the time it took to gain that weight, it means that getting rid of it can only be achieved over time.
So, whether you are considering buying a new suit or trying to get back into an old favourite, achieving the shape you desire means following a set of three simple disciplines.
Aim to increase your protein intake to 30-40 per cent of each meal, concentrating upon clean protein such as chicken, fish and eggs, which will keep you fuller for longer, decreasing the likelihood of the dreaded snacking. Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t wish to cut out fats and carbohydrates as they are essential; carefully choosing your sources and controlling portion size is the key.
Carbohydrates from organic sources such as vegetables and grains are a fantastic source of fuel; due to their structural complexity they have slower breakdown rates than refined sources such as white rice, bread and pasta. Fats help to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and play an important role in meal satiety.
Good fat sources such as avocado and nuts (monounsaturated) as well as those from fatty fish and seeds (polyunsaturated) are perfectly healthy. Saturated fat sources like fatty meats and whole fat dairy products should provide less than 10% of a day’s calories.
Finally, avoid trans fats; these fats have been modified to increase product shelf life resulting in a fat the body doesn’t recognise, cannot metabolise. Sources include baked goods, snack foods and margarine. The FDA recommends trans fat consumption should be as low as possible, so look out for hydrogenated oils on food labels. The correct blend of carbohydrates, fats and proteins will provide a sustained energy release, stopping blood sugar levels getting too high and causing unnecessary energy (FAT) storage.
A common misconception is that crunches will reduce abdominal fat. Site-specific fat loss is in fact a myth. Weight loss can be achieved by playing a simple game of energy balance; using more calories than you are consuming, creating an energy deficit.
Quite simply, each muscle can be considered as an engine, and the fuel for these engines comes primarily from fats and carbohydrates. The most time effective way to create an energy deficit is to select compound exercises that use the larger groups of muscles, in particular legs, core, back and chest.
Subcutaneous adipose stores (which is the fat stored under the skin) serves as an energy reservoir. When an energy deficit is created, fat is mobilised from the store as a whole, to provide energy for the body. Therefore, abdominal crunches and bicep curls will not significantly reduce body fat, as the muscle groups involved are too small.
Rowing, on the other hand, is aerobically one of the most demanding activities as it engages all of the lower body musculature in conjunction with the upper body pulling muscles (back and biceps). After approximately 12-15 minutes of such activity, the body begins to metabolise fat to fuel the effort.
‘Consistency is key’ is a phrase all too familiar to my clients. It is what I stress must be the basis for any weight loss and fitness regime. Going on a crash diet and training a few times will not provide long term improvements. Remembering how long it took to gain weight, subtle lifestyle changes are required that can be sustained, encompassing food and exercise.
If you are struggling to exercise consistently try to exercise on the same days each week, consider getting a training partner, and vary the exercises in your routine. The World Health Organisation suggests 30 minutes a day of MODERATE intensity exercise, and paired with a sensible dietary intervention, that should give a weight loss of 2lbs per week.
These are the three essential considerations when embarking upon a programme aimed at achieving weight loss and developing physical fitness. Forget the fashionable diets, the sporadic crash sessions at the gym. A sustained regime is what will give long-term results, so take responsibility for your fitness goals and slowly embrace some lifest