I get this question, a LOT.

“I want to lose weight and get toned. I would like to have visible muscle definition, but I don’t want to get bulky. I’ve been running and I started eating salads. What else should I do?”

Well, first off, we need to make up our minds and prioritize. Yes, it is possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. You just have to make sure you’re implementing the right nutrition strategies + exercise program. I believe this is a common question so, let’s talk about it and see if I can help.

So how much weight do you need to lose to actually see those pesky abs and that muscle definition you’ve been longing for? First off, these are generalities but it’s helpful to have a target, or an “end goal” if you will. For men, an approximate goal should be a body fat percentage of about 10-15%. For women, that body fat percentage goal should range from 15-20%. This is not the same as your BMI number, but the percentage of your total weight on the scale that is comprised of actual fat in pounds. So, for a 200# man, that means that his maximum threshold of body fat is between 20-30# TOTAL (if the goal is to have visible muscle tone) and for a 150# woman, that number of fat in pounds is between 22-30# total.

So, what is the rest of that number on the scale made of? Water, bone and muscle. If you’re not sure what your body fat percentage is, feel free to email me at cfmountainisland@gmail.com and schedule an Inbody scan to see exactly where you’re at.

Okay, so. Now we have a goal. But how do we get there? What is the best exercise program to get the results we want? I bet you’re thinking I’m going to say CrossFit.

Well, yeah. But that isn’t the point of this blog post.

The answer is deeper than that. Let’s go over some basics.

Exercise is a source of stress (say it again for the people in the back). Yeah, I know. It’s hard and it’s uncomfortable.

The changes that happen to your body from exercise are called “stress adaptations”. The Immediate adaptations to that stress happen in your body right away. You sweat. Your heart rate increases. Your muscles burn. Your body burns fat and carbs for energy. Maybe you cry a little bit (no? Just me?)

The longer term adaptations are things like muscle growth, stronger joints, tendons and ligaments. Fat loss. Improved bone density. A stronger heart. Think about it. If you provide a stress to your body that makes your heart work harder, and you do it for a long enough time with enough consistency, your heart will get stronger. Just like your muscles will get stronger. And if you provide a stress to your body that requires it to burn it’s fat stores, and you do it consistently and for a long enough time, you’ll burn through more and more extra (so long as your diet doesn’t replace them faster than you can burn them).

When you think about your body fat percentage, the more muscle mass that you have the better. If we have a 150# person with 50 pounds of fat and 50 pounds of muscle, they’re in trouble and they don’t have a good body fat percentage (30%+). If we take that same person who weigh’s 150#, but they have 25 pounds of fat and 75 pounds of muscle, they’re a lot better off (15% bodyfat). Oh hey, abs. Nice to finally meet you.

So, you want to lose body fat and fit into your jeans from high school. Great. There are a couple of ways you can get after it.

  1. 1. You can start running / biking. These exercises provide a stress that says “burn calories RIGHT NOW to keep this up”. That means your body will be burning “x” calories for however long you’re being active. This same though process applies to walking, playing tennis, etc. just at a lower level of intensity (because those things are LESS stressful to your system).
  2. 2. You can start lifting weights. Now, there are 2 basic thought processes with weightlifting for beginners. Muscle growth / size and muscle density / strength. You can lift a small amount of weight for a lot of reps until your muscles burn, and with enough time and reps they’ll grow and get bigger. You can then use those BIGGER muscles to slowly and safely start lifting heavier weights for less repetitions and make those BIGGER muscles THICKER and stronger. Different kinds of stress = different adaptations. What’s cool about putting on muscle is that by getting more muscle, you actually increase your metabolism. That’s right, my 40+ friends. You can actually kickstart your metabolism and make it work again by putting on some muscle. (One reason your metabolism starts to tank in the first place is you stop doing things in your day to day life that require your body to maintain muscle as you age, and as you lose muscle, your metabolism goes down).

3. What I suggest is that you do a combination of both. Lift weights. Run. Bike. Swim. Combine different forms of weightlifting WITH different forms of cardio and bodyweight exercises. Do them fast, with a high heart rate. Implement different intervals. Experiment with fun movements. The higher your heart rate gets and the longer you can sustain it, the better. What’s really cool about this kind of program is that you’re not only going to burn calories during your workout, but your body will be burning SUBSTANTIALLY more calories over the course of your day even after you’ve finished your workout.

((P.S. If your goal is to gain muscle and get healthier, you’d better be eating protein. Download MyFitnessPal and start tracking your food. It isn’t that hard. It doesn’t take that much time. You’re already on your phone for a thousand hours a day. It takes less than a minute to enter your food into the app, at which point it will tell you how much protein, carbs and fat you eat in a given day. Hint: Try to eat your bodyweight in grams for protein (or as close as you can get).))

There is no perfect program. The best plan is the one that you can start today, and keep doing for 5-6 days a week because you are capable of doing it.

If you don’t know how to lift weights safely, get a coach to teach you proper form for different exercises. I can promise you it will be worth the investment.

If a coach isn’t accessible to you, check out YouTube.

Yes, it will probably be uncomfortable if you haven’t done it in awhile (or ever). No, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different results.

Try something you’ve never tried before if you’d like to accomplish something you’ve never accomplished before.

In Health,

Coach Coty

Questions? Just email me.

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