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Articles

Pounding the pavement to shift those kilos? Think about lifting kilos instead!

In every gym around the country, and plenty of parks and footpaths too, you can see people slogging away at cardio exercise in an effort to lose weight. Huffing and puffing, there’s no doubt that they’re working hard, but are they really going to get the results that they are after?

We’d be inclined to say, sadly no. They might lose weight, but not necessarily fat. A Penn State study put dieters into three groups – no exercise, cardio exercise only, and cardio exercise and weight training – and while they all lost weight, the weight lifting group lost around three kilos more fat than the other groups. The weight lifting group’s loss was almost pure fat, while the others lost both fat and muscle. And as we know, losing muscle will decrease your metabolic rate and contribute to a range of other health problems.

Cardio exercise, like running, cycling and swimming is great for improving your heart health and for burning fat for the period of time that you are exercising. But to alter your body to burn fat more effectively all day, even when you are sitting at your desk or asleep in your bed, you really need to build more muscle mass.

Why weight training trumps cardio for fat loss

One of the main reasons why weight training is better than cardio for fat loss is the post-workout effect on metabolism. Weight training can trigger increased calorie burn for up to 36 hours after you’ve finished your session!

A second factor is that in addition to burning more calories after the workout itself, weight training will increase the amount of lean muscle mass in your body. This lean muscle mass will increase your basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories you’d burn just lying in bed all day doing nothing but breathing), and make your body a more efficient fat burning machine all day, every day, not just training days.

Weight training also promotes an anabolic state in the body , encouraging the creation and maintenance of lean muscle tissue. Cardio training however can cause a catabolic state in the body, triggering the release of the stress hormone cortisol which can lead to muscle loss and also promote fat accumulation in the abdominal region. And as we’ve discussed before, abdominal fat is bad news!

How to get your muscles to do the heavy weight-loss lifting

The best approach for fat loss is metabolic strength training – a high-intensity, full-body interval workout. Rather than a traditional body-building program using free weights and weight machines, metabolic strength training is based on a variety of combinations and repetitions using free weights, kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and resistance bands. Rather than being about how much you can lift, it is about making the body efficient, lean, toned and strong.

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To get the maximum benefits from metabolic strength training, try these tips from Alwyn Cosgrove, author of The New Rules of Lifting for Life:

  • Train the whole body on non-consecutive days, three to four times per week
  • Use compound exercises with free weights
  • Choose a weight that allows you to complete no more than three to four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions if you’re a beginner, or six to eight reps if you are an experienced lifter
  • Keep your rest time between sets to under a minute
  • Alternate sets of lower-body and upper-body exercises
  • Continually challenge yourself with heavier weights and new and different exercise variations

So, don’t be scared of lifting weights to achieve your weight loss goals! Strength training will allow your body to develop more lean muscle tissue and change your body composition. You’ll increase your metabolic rate and turn your body into a strong and efficient fat burning machine that not only looks better but works better too. We see the effects of this type of training at Body Measure all the time- it works! Come in an see us for a DEXA scan- we can help you achieve your goals and keep you on track with your training!

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Articles

Anabolic versus catabolic: What’s the difference and why does it matter for your health?

The terms anabolic and catabolic are well-known in the weightlifting and body building communities, but we believe it’s time that the broader community understood what these terms mean and use that knowledge to improve health and well-being!

So, what do these terms mean?

Anabolic and catabolic essentially refer to whether your body is building tissue or breaking it down. An anabolic state means your body is building or repairing tissue, whereas a catabolic state means your body is breaking down tissue. Workouts are either anabolic or catabolic, and each has a different effect on your body.

Anabolic workouts are focused on strength training, and will increase muscle mass. The effect of anabolic training actually takes place during rest and high intensity training, when the body produces more muscle fibres to replace the ones that were broken during exercise. By increasing your muscle mass, your body will burn fat more effectively when at rest. Classic anabolic hormones include growth hormone, insulin and testosterone.

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Catabolic training predominantly involves cardio exercise sessions of at least 20 to 45 minutes in duration, and will cause your body to release hormones such as cortisol, norepinephrine and adrenalin. Catabolic training will cause a loss of total body mass and is an effective fat burner while you are exercising.

Which is better?

We believe that for most people, it is better to exercise in a way that encourages your body to be in an anabolic state. Anabolism is necessary to grow muscle tissue, increase bone density and also encourages the production of white blood cells to boost your immune system. By increasing muscle mass, your body will burn fat more effectively all day – not just when you are exercising. It is vital to ensure that you are eating enough, as if your body has inadequate resources to fuel muscle repair, it will actually break down undamaged muscle tissue to repair damaged muscle tissue!

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How to promote anabolism

Becoming more anabolic isn’t just a matter of increasing your weight training. It requires a combination of training, good nutrition and rest. Here are some tips on how to be more anabolic:

  1. Watch what you eat: A diet that focuses on fresh, natural and unprocessed foods is ideal. Aim for simple home cooked meals based around protein, good fats and clean, slow burning carbs.
  2. Sleep your way to success: Sleep and rest are vital to promoting anabolism as this is when the body will repair broken muscle tissue and grow new muscle. Aim for eight hours of sleep a night and make sure you are giving your body a chance to renew itself.
  3. Train using compound movements: Exercises like squats, deadlifts and push and pull variations develop the whole body, rather than just one muscle group. This helps to promote an anabolic state as the body will keep burning fat for hours after your workout.
  4. Reduce stress: Both mental and physical stress can lower your immunity and hamper muscle repair. The stress hormone, cortisol, is associated with a catabolic state and is known to increase blood pressure and blood sugar, and reduces immune responses.
  5. Avoid alcohol: Yes, we know this is never popular advice! But alcohol hampers the process of protein synthesis and lowers testosterone levels, both of which are necessary for muscle growth. So save the beer and wine for an occasional indulgence.
  6. Eat green vegetables: Plenty of green veggies will provide your body with phytonutrients to trigger anabolism.

So there you have it, an overview of the difference between anabolic and catabolic states, and what that can mean for your health. To get an indication of the amount of muscle tissue in your body, come in for a DEXA scan and we can help to tailor your training to help you turn into a lean, fat-burning machine.

Articles

Is old age muscling in on you?

Maintaining muscle mass as you age

Did you know that at some point in your 30s, you will begin to lose muscle mass? People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after 30, with this rate accelerating at around 75 years. It is a condition called age-related sarcopenia and it is nowhere near as widely known as the related condition of osteoporosis (the loss of bone mass).

But we think it is time to wise up about the risks of muscle loss. The age-related loss of muscle mass and strength can make it harder for elderly people to perform basic daily tasks and substantially increases the risk of falls and other accidents. Taking decisive action in your 30s and beyond to increase muscle mass can greatly reduce your risk of muscle loss.

How to prevent the rate of  muscle loss?

The great news is that there are immediate steps you can take to reduce age-related muscle loss. The single most important factor is exercise – specifically resistance training or strength training. This has been shown to both prevent muscle loss and to help with hormones that burn fat and spare muscle loss. A resistance training program can increase protein synthesis rates in as little as two weeks.

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Another key factor is diet, with inadequate protein intake and insufficient calorie intake both contributing factors. This is what we see every day at Body Measure. Clients will come in smiling saying they have lost 5kg after reading their weight on the scales. When we DEXA SCAN them we find that nearly all of it is muscle! Care must be taken that when losing weight, so that fat and not muscle being shed.

By DEXA SCANNING the experts at Body Measure can see if you are losing muscle or fat and advise on how to modify your diet and training to ensure you build muscle and burn fat.

How to monitor your muscle mass?

Regular DEXA scans can provide you with vital information about your body composition and the amount of lean muscle mass on your body. If you are trying to achieve weight loss goals, we can monitor your progress to ensure that you are maintaining optimum muscle mass levels while reducing the amount of body fat. Similarly, if you are seeking to increase your muscle mass in order to prevent age-related conditions such as sarcopenia and osteoporosis, regular scans can help to monitor your progress and keep you motivated to maintain your strength training as in important factor in overall health.

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Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting frailer. And whether you are 35 or 75, it’s not too late to take steps to increase your muscle mass. Strength training doesn’t have to mean lifting bulky weights in an intimidating gym environment. It can mean resistance bands and body weight exercises at home or the park, it can mean machines at the gym, or it can mean working with a specialist exercise specialist.

The type of strength training you choose isn’t as important as choosing to do it. Here’s to getting stronger as well as wiser as we age.

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How much muscle mass do you have? Come in for a scan to find out and set a target for increasing your lean muscle tissue, whilst losing fat!