By: Jonathan TaylorSports Performance Specialist
Spectrum Sports Performance

You must gain in order to lose! Many misconceptions exist pertaining to the subject of weight loss, being largely perpetuated by magazine articles, marketing, and misinformation. With so many opinions available on the topic, coming to the conclusion of what is true and what is false is rather challenging. Weight loss, or fat loss as I like to correctly term it, is a continual process of gaining lean muscle mass to overall effect resting metabolism, or how many calories the body burns at rest, and positively shifting hormone levels. But before we explore the subject and how the body responds to exercise, we must first define “weight loss.”

Many will say, “I want to lose weight,” when in fact what they really mean is, “I want to lose fat.” When standing on a scale, it does not just measure overall fat weight, but also, non-fat weight, including bones, muscles, blood, etc. The scale is a poor measure of true body composition and “losing scale weight” is not an ideal goal. The body can quickly lose scale weight by simply being dehydrated or removing the ingesting of carbohydrates. But the question remains, “How do I reconstruct my body and target overall fat to actually see physical changes?” Three major components of fat loss include (1) affecting overall resting metabolism, (2) eliciting hormone shifts in the body and (3) intensity of exercise.

Resting metabolism, or how many calories the body burns at rest, constitutes 63-70% of the body’s total caloric need daily. That means that all the body’s processes internally use a lot of energy just to maintain proper function throughout the day. With that much energy being consumed by the body at rest, how could we make that resting metabolism work even harder for more of a caloric expenditure? This is through increasing lean muscle mass. The more lean tissue the body has, the more energy, or calories, it requires in maintaining that lean tissue. If the muscle is stimulated to grow, it will have to work that much harder to keep it. Resistance training then becomes vital. The muscles on the body must undergo a progressive stressing via proper range of motion, progressed loads, varying exercises, and continued challenges to rid the body of excess fat. Kramer, Volek et al. conducted a study on the effects of resistance training and weight loss in men. Overweight subjects were assigned to groups: diet only, diet plus aerobics, and diet plus aerobics plus weights. Training was three times a week starting at 30 minutes. The diet group lost 14.6 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. The aerobic group lost only one more pound (15.6 pounds) than the diet group. The weight training group lost 21.1 pounds of fat, 44% and 35% more than diet and aerobic only groups respectively. You must gain lean muscle mass in order maximize fat loss.

A second and highly important area on fat loss is the topic of hormones. Hormones are chemicals that are secreted by specialized glands in the body to regulate digestion, metabolism, growth, mood, and reproduction. Hormones are vital in recomposing the body, aiding in the gains of lean muscle mass and decreasing overall body fat. Hormones are responsible for the overall change the body goes through over the course of consistent diet and exercise. If this is the case, why is it so important to resistance train for overall fat loss? When using big, multi-joint lifts such as a Squat or Deadlift, these lifts cause a strong hormonal response, triggering testosterone and HGH secretion, which both aid in increasing lean muscle and boosting fat metabolism. Bottom line, the more the muscle, the more the hormone response, the more fat loss can occur.
Finally, many find exercise to be a challenge to fit into their already busy schedules. So when considering how to counteract a hectic lifestyle, what is going to the give the biggest bang for buck? The intensity, not the duration, of working out is key to get the most out of limited time. Meaning, going as hard as possible for 30 minutes of exercise will illicit more calories expended than going 1 hour of exercise at a moderate pace. EPOC, or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, is defined as “the recovery of metabolic rate to pre-exercise levels,” and is a huge factor in insuring a caloric expenditure after exercise. Schuenke MD, Mikat RP, Mcbride JM tested resistance exercise on EPOC. The study used a circuit training protocol (exercises back to back with no rest in between) of 12 sets in 31 minutes. EPOC, or post exercise calorie burn, was significantly elevated for 38 hours post workout! That means after one session, the subjects burned calories for almost two days! If that was conducted for three times a week, the body could potentially be a burning machine all week. It pays to go hard!

With the right program design, consistency, and attention to detail, lasting, effective fat loss can be achieved. Affecting overall resting metabolism through resistance training, utilizing multi-joint lifts in exercise to trigger hormone responses, and emphasizing intensity in workouts can be some of the tools used to win the war on fat and permanently improve life and wellbeing!

Written by Jonathan Taylor
Edited by Courtney VandeStreek

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