If you are asking this question, the chances are you want to change your life around and get fit. Maybe you’ve gotten yourself into a summer slump and aren’t comfortable swimming without a rashie anymore. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you were able to get out of bed with a bounce. Maybe it hasn’t been since school that you’ve gone for a run and were what they call ‘active’. Whatever the reason, if you are asking yourself this question, you obviously want to do both. You want to lose weight and you want to build muscle. There are a few schools of thought out there, but it really depends on your starting point as to where you should begin.

Starting Point = Couch Potato

If your New Years Resolution is to be active, then the basic answer is that you need to concentrate on losing weight first. If you are packing in the protein and eating for muscle building, then you will have trouble losing those kilos. Whilst you may be finding yourself getting stronger and stronger, you aren’t going to lose weight fast. If you haven’t exercised since highschool, then you need to give your body a chance to get used to this new strain on it. You need to give your heart the chance to strengthen up to cope with all the extra demands exercising will give it. And as it does this, your body will start to convert the fat you have stored into energy to burn. So ease into a cardio routine where you break a sweat and get your heart rate up. Getting used to an exercise routine is the best way to see your resolution last into next year too.

Starting Point = Summer Slump

If you would consider yourself as sometimes active but have eaten too many Christmas Puddings and watched too many holiday late night movies, then you probably could do both at the same time. Starting off with strength building in your exercise routine will help you maintain your muscle while you burn the excess summer slump fat. Having lean muscle will also speed up your metabolism, so if you you couple that with a healthy diet and cardio, you will find yourself feeling fitter, stronger and slimmer, quicker. If you let your main focus be fat-burning cardio sessions, your body will get better at processing excess calories next time you get yourself in a slump. You’ll be back in that bathing suit with confidence in no time!

Let The Mirror Guide You

This may seem counter-intuitive, but when it comes to getting fit, you need to give your scales a break. All scales can do is measure your weight. They can’t tell you how strong your heart is. They can’t tell you how much body fat you have. They can’t tell you how much muscle mass you have. All they can do is give you a guide. The thing is, muscle weighs more than fat. So if your goal is to see that number keep falling, then you are going to feel really frustrated when it doesn’t do that. If you are noticing that your shoulders are getting bigger, your waistline is getting smaller, and you can start to actually see the shape of your muscles then you’re on the right track. If you must weigh yourself, then make it monthly and don’t let it be your goal. Celebrate the way your body is starting to look leaner and feel lighter and healthier.

Tips For Losing Weight

  • Learn to love cardio. Whatever makes you break a sweat and get your heat rate pumping is a cardio workout ie. your heart is working hard. Find out a cadio activity that you love and would easily do at least 3 times a week for at least 30minutes. Walking, jogging, dancing, cycling, swimming whatever it may be. Make it convenient, and make it fun. Get a pumping playlist and get yourself the right gear and you will start to look forward to these breaks away from the busyness of your day. Work up to 5-7 days a week and you will start to see that you do actually have calf muscles!
  • Use your workouts efficiently. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the most effective way to burn fat while you exercise. It is alternating sprints at 70% max pace and recover at 50% exertion within your cardio workout. You would do this for 60sec sprints to 120sec recovery for 20-25mins. Schedule in a HIIT workout no more than twice a week to allow your body the chance to recover well from it.
  • Eat Less. Make sure your calorie input is lower than your calorie output. At the start it is really important to get to know what foods will make it harder to lose weight over what foods will fuel you for longer. Cut back on processed, fast food and let whole foods become the bulk of your diet. Learning to eat healthy will be key in keeping the weight off over your lifetime.

Tips For Building Muscle

  • Stimulate your muscles. For your muscles to grow, they need to be stimulated. This means you will need to also incorporate strength workouts in your week. Lifting weights and pushing up your body weight both will do this for your muscles. Pull-ups, calf raises, bench presses, bicep curls and bench presses are all examples of strength exercises. Add some reps of these to the end of your cardio session to see your muscles start to grow and strengthen. Increase the reps to continue challenging your muscles as you are able.
  • Eat to feed your muscles. Once you feel you are lean enough to start building muscle, you need to actually feed them to get them to grow bigger. Muscles feed on protein, carbs and healthy fats. As a guide for protein intake, multiply your body weight in kilograms by 1.5.

We live in a country where obesity is on the rise. So most of us will need to spend most of our time sweating away those calories before we even think about bulking up our muscles. Join us at AJs and ask our friendly Personal Trainers for a workout routine that fits you.