Monday, June 22, 2009

Useful fat loss workouts - More random thoughts.

For the macro picture, you want to do some strength training, some HIIT, some traditional cardio from time to time, and a bit of flexibility training. The fine details of exactly how each part of the complete program is structured varies according to sports-specific and individual needs.

Craig Ballantyne wrote this home bodyweight workout that I've been passing out as an example of what you can do for a workout without using weights, his stuff is pretty decent if you're in the target demographic. That is, you're not practicing for sports-specific performance in anything, you're looking for a reasonably minimal workout routine that'll get you a base level of fitness for life.

I've only chatted with him a couple times online, he strikes me as a decent guy and his workouts are legit. You don't actually need to buy his pre-made routines though, you already know what's in there: antagonist supersets of compound movements and some HIIT, plus count calories. And of the two counting calories count for more when it comes to weight loss, there's no way on God's green Earth to out-train your diet.

One reason for buying a pre-made routine from someone else is something Dan John spoke about a while back; there's less thinking involved. Which is where Turbulence Training comes in. But if you have sports-specific goals that go beyond generic fitness getting workout ideas from TT that you then have to go in and modify to work with what you actually training for strikes me as an unnecessary step where you'll just wind up paying extra for no reason. Since you probably won't be able to use Craig's stuff as is, I mean - if you could use it as is TT isn't bad, his workout designs are in the same space as Alwyn Cosgroves' from The New Rules of Lifting and The New Rules of Lifting for Women so they'd fit right in if you're looking for something in that space that isn't by Cosgrove.

But if you've got sports-specific goals you're going to have to do a lot of work to adapt anything you pick up to you own use anyway, so you might as well skip that step and go straight to getting some sports-specific material instead.

'course, there's other considerations as well - I'm consistently running into a lot of shoulder issues with people who've been sitting at a desk for a few years and used a mouse. Shoulders with limited mobility, improper stability, dysfunctional movement patterns, rotational deficits and other problems are seldom candidates for heavy loading. If you have mobility/stability issues, more than a current injury you need to train around, here's a shoulder rehab protocol from Jimmy Smith you should be using then if you can't get to a physical therapist to give you an individualized routine - start with no weights at all for a runthrough to see how your shoulder holds up.

That, plus the YTWL exercise is a good combo for shoulder rehab, you'd use surprisingly low weights on either to have a training effect. My preferred YTWL runthrough uses 8 reps of each letter before moving on to the next, and it's perfectly acceptable strength training for a beginner to just use your arms with no weights at all ;)

The reason I call TT good for base fitness but not necessarily good for sports-specific performance is that it lacks specificity. When it comes to sports-specific performance you're better off with an exercise program that's designed specifically around exercises with a high degree of athletic transfer from your workout to your sport than a generic fitness routine. If you don't have a specific sport you're practicing for, you have limited training time, and you're looking to get into good all-round condition with a combination of strength, aerobic and anaerobic fitness and flexibility TT or NROL/NROLW would work awesome.

If your goals have a bit more specificity to them it's often a better strategy to train each component separately; "Starting Strength" for any strength goals, a combination of steady state and interval training for endurance, and yoga for flexibility for example. The downside of a program like that is that while it'll get you better results than a combination workout will, it'll also take quite a bit more time.

You'd probably devote as much time to each individual component (20-60 minutes depending on activity, 1-3 times a week, 4-6 hours total) as you would to one of the combination workouts. If you've only got 2-3 hours a week to squeeze in a workout that's not a very useful approach just from a time management perspective, even if you'd see better results from a pure fitness standpoint.

Keep in mind that muscle/body size is entirely down to your diet - if you're training for strength with low-rep training and keeping calories in check you'd look more like little 97-lbs Suzanna who's about 50% stronger than me pound for pound than Jessica Biel. Or you'd look more like Gisele who's known for rockin' the Romanian deadlift at Peak Fitness. As long as calories are kept at maintenance or slightly lower there's no growth signal to your muscles, while the strength training preserves what you have and adds to bone density and neural tonicity of your muscles.

If you're doing a generic medium-high rep workout (10-15 reps) with a slight calorie surplus (350-500kcal/d) there is a growth signal to your muscles - and you might be able to 2-4 pounds of muscle in a month if you're male, about half that or 1-2lbs per month if you're female.

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