Just Add Exercise
If the nutritional adjustments come easy to you, try observing these four tips to make the most out of your fight on fat in the gym:
1) Turn Down the Volume
Sure, doing more exercises might burn more calories, but looking at the bigger picture, the name of the game is anabolism (i.e., muscle growth). Nothing builds mass like training hard and getting adequate rest, but performing an excessive number of sets wears the body down, inhibiting anabolism and slowing metabolism. Better to err on the “less is more” side of the argument and stick with basic, heavy exercises in the 6-12-rep range than to institute marathon training sessions that can hinder your gains in muscle and losses in bodyfat.
2) Don’t Wait for Weights
If you hit the treadmill before the squat rack, you fiddle with the maximal growth hormone release associated with training. Research shows that when you do weights first and cardio last, GH levels are higher. This is critical because GH not only boosts muscle growth but fat-burning as well. Plus, performing cardio after weightlifting can result in greater fat-burning because your body is carb-depleted.
3) Eat Light to Lift Big
The meal you chow down 30-60 minutes before training doesn’t power the workout alone. It’s the combination of that meal and stored carbohydrates (muscle glycogen) that gets you through your heavy lifts. If you eat a lot of food—particularly of the carbohydrate variety—you inhibit the breakdown of bodyfat to some degree. Taking a more moderate approach and eating only a small snack of 20 grams of protein and 20-40 grams of carbs 30-60 minutes before training is more beneficial. Save the big meal for after training; the body will put that food to work immediately to restart the growth process.
4) Tired? Just Skip It
Are you dead tired and contemplating skipping the gym to hit the couch after work? Then do exactly that. When you train fatigued, you trigger the release of stress hormones that actually destroy muscle. Keep in mind, muscle is the main driver of metabolism and allows you to look and stay lean. If you do anything to kill off muscle tissue, you’re doing nothing to help yourself. If you’re well rested, the body responds far better to your workout than if you’re exhausted. Well-rested muscles are more adept at taking on more size and density, which parlays directly into a better metabolism.