Designing A Workout Around Your Body Fat Range
You have the image goal in mind of what you're working towards and your motivational level is high to get into the gym and start going after that exact image that's going to make you feel proud of your efforts. At this stage now, you want to make sure you're on the right type of program to get you to your end goal.
Whether you're looking at moving from being very overweight to being categorized as moderately lean or you're looking to get ready to compete in fitness and want to reach the very lean category, each goal is going to have a certain type of training program that needs to be followed.
Here are some guidelines to use.
The Risky High Body Fat Category
If you're sitting in this category, chances are you haven't been performing regular exercises and likely have a diet that consists of a higher amount of
high calorie and processed foods.
At this point, rather than forcing yourself on a very demanding workout program and an intense diet, focus on making small lifestyle changes. Since you do have a high amount of body fat to lose, the good thing is that it will drop off rapidly, initially without you having to do a great deal of work.
Simply getting up and walking for thirty minutes a day and aiming to replace one unhealthy food in your diet with a healthier option each week could mean the difference of about a pound a week of weight loss.
Start adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet while limiting the fast food and convenience food selections you're taking in. You should also eliminate all soda from your diet (that in itself can easily make you drop a pound a week if you're a high consumer) and take in 8 glasses of water a day to help flush the body out.
Starting up a basic weight training program at this point would be a smart move as it will help maintain lean body tissue as you go about the dieting process. Due to your high body weight though, you will be stressing the muscles even just walking around, so if going to the gym intimidates you at this point, just do whatever you can to be active. That is the key.
The Excess Fat Category
Next you have the excess fat category. Typically those in this category aren't overly active either and don't have a diet that's centered around healthy foods for the most part.
Since you don't have quite the amount of excess weight as those in the risky category do, you may want to try some higher intensity cardio training to get your heart rate up and start burning fat faster. Alternating periods of walking with jogging is a great way to ease your body into it and up your calorie burn.
You should also start on a weight lifting program at this point since, at this range, you are capable of building muscle and losing fat at the same time (something that leaner individuals typically are not). Aim to lift a heavy enough weight that you're fatiguing within the 8-12 rep range so you're getting both calorie burning and
A full body, 3-day-a-week program is probably your best bet since it's not a huge time commitment and will work the body with the highest frequency. You should be mostly doing compound lifting movements; for example: leg presses, bench presses, deadlifts, shoulder presses, and horizontal rows or pull-ups.
With your diet, you should now start counting the number of calories you take in daily to get a good idea of what you're eating. It would be helpful to monitor this for a while so you can start seeing where you need to reduce and make sure you're eating around 500 fewer calories than you need to maintain your body weight (there are a variety of maintenance calculators you can use for figuring this out).
Moderately Lean Category
The third category is the moderately lean category. If this is you, you're likely either paying some attention to your diet (although you may indulge a little too often), or you're keeping active with a
workout program or with other activities you typically enjoy.
This is a great start and it's showing in your body fat percentage. If you want to take your body to the next step it's time to tighten up your diet slightly and make sure you're lifting in an appropriate manner.
You can use added cardio training to decrease your body fat at this stage, but assuming you are already doing some form of aerobic exercise, you'll be better off getting on a good weight lifting program four days a week (an upper/lower body split works perfect for this). Add your cardio training around these workouts and you should start seeing some progress.
On the diet side of things, you may want to consider adding in some carbohydrate cycling to bring your calorie intake lower without starting to see a big drop in the metabolic rate. Aim to have higher carbohydrate days when you train and lower carbohydrate days when you're off.
This combination tends to keep energy levels higher without sacrificing fat loss progress. You should also be cutting out foods in your diet that contain excess fat apart from the actual healthy fat sources that you should be eating (nuts, natural peanut butter, flaxseeds, fish oil, etc).
Moving on, if you've decided that you've spent a while now maintaining a good diet and exercise schedule and you want to kick up the intensity and
possibly compete in a contest, this is the category you're going to be striving for.
Now you will need to increase your cardio training slightly or work on decreasing your calorie content further (in some cases, both will be necessary). When doing so you will really want to make sure you're keeping your protein intake higher (1.5 grams/lb) to prevent the loss of lean muscle tissue and keep the intensity up for your weightlifting sessions by not letting the weight drop on the bar. This is critical for seeing fat loss as opposed to muscle mass loss.
Carbohydrate intake at this point may be limited to complex carbs around training and vegetables throughout the rest of the day depending on your particular training program and rate of progress.
Be sure you're eating a calorie surplus once every week or two for a day while aiming to get to this level of body fat just to prevent the metabolism from slowing down, which is typical when you reach this stage.
You may wish to hire a contest prep coach if you are going to compete since they will be able to give you good guidance on exactly what you must be doing to get to the lower body fat levels.
The Risky Lean Category
Since the risky category is risky, it's not recommended that you attempt to get down below these body fat levels. If you are competing you may verge very near it for a few days before the contest, but for those just looking to become incredibly fit, they're better off staying at the very lean category where they won't see negative health consequences.
So keep your category in mind as you go about choosing your workout program. It's important to do so since it will help you maintain your pace better and will be something that you can handle and see results on.
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