Lifting To Lose 

Want a lean and toned physique?  Time to start hitting the weights!

When my close friend Michelle started putting on weight after the birth of her second child, she did what a lot of people do: She tried to run it off, literally.  Four or five times a week she laced up her shoes and ran for miles, but the scale refused to budge.  Thinking she wasn’t doing enough, Michelle started attending spin classes and doing additional workouts on cardio machines.  After months of heroic effort, very little changes had been done to reshape her body.  “Nothing was working,” she said.  “I thought my metabolism had just slowed down and I’d never be able to lose the weight.”

But rather than give up, Michelle sought the help of Jose Fernandez, A.A.A.I. and Master Private Trainer, to take up a strength-building program.  Instead of only low-intensity, repetitive exercise sessions on treadmill and elliptical machines, she began doing shorter, more intensive workouts with weights while mixing in cardio between weight sets that were never the same from one day to the next.  When blending weighs and cardio into circuit training, she was able to optimize muscle building and fat burning into one workout.  I know how we all have busy lives and time restraints, so this is the most effective way to get maximum benefits from your workout in one hour.

Four months later, Michelle’s shoulders, arms, and abs had the sculpted, toned look she had always wanted.  Better yet, 15 pounds had melted off, and her body fat percentage was 7 points lower.  Friends started asking how she had pulled it off and she told them that adding strength training made all the difference in the world.

Both real life experience and the latest fitness research suggest that low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise, while beneficial, is not the fastest route to leanness and overall health.  The real key to fat loss is high-intensity exercise, especially strength training – with real weights, real sweat and real effort.  Combining that with aerobic exercise and time specific nutrition will create optimal results in the shortest amount of time.

The real results have little to do with what the scale tells you.  Your weight may go down, stay the same or even go up a little bit.  Your shape, however, will change dramatically.  Jose Fernandez and I always tell our clients “Do you want to hit a number on the scale or do you want to be leaner, more toned, and be able to fit into your clothes better; even if you weigh a little more?” For most people it’s no contest!

“Muscle contraction is a primary engine of fat loss,” says Joe Antouri, CEO of PROPTA and FITGUM, and former Mr. USA.  “The more muscle mass you have to contract, the more calories you can burn.”  Additionally, strength training workouts that take large muscle groups to a state of burn will increase the release of hormones that aid in reduction of body fat.  For anyone who wants to lose fat, make every effort to hang on to and even gain as much lean muscle mass as possible.  As a woman, I understand the fear of becoming too bulky from lifting weights, however, even with the moderate amount of weight that I lift, it is impossible even for me to get bulky and masculine looking.  Weight training is necessary for that lean, toned, and sexy fit physique that we desire as women.  The best way to attain that is resistance training combined with short bursts of cardio between sets, which will help you hold onto the muscle tissue while you lose fat.

Time specific nutrition is also an integral part of this equation as is the weight training.  By reducing your calories and consuming more protein, you will help fuel your body and help build muscle by eating the right foods at the right times.  (I recommend one gram of protein per pound of lean body weight, which requires an individual to know his or her own body fat percentage).  For optimal results, include empty stomach cardio in the morning or last thing before bed, as well as time specific nutrition intake: lean protein and good complex carbs for first 3 meals then lean protein, healthy fats and veggies only in the evening meals.  In turn, combining all of this keeps your metabolism humming and your body burning unwanted fat.

As I am in my final month of training for WBFF World Championships, I reflect back on how much my body has changed from implementing these simple weight lifting methods into proper nutrition and aerobic exercise.  My very first competition with WBFF, I placed 1st in Fitness and won my WBFF Pro Card just 3 years after giving birth to my second child. Anything is possible!!  I hope this inspires all women struggling with losing excess body fat and who are ready to create the body they desire …. So start lifting to lose!



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