If you take some time to evaluate why most people start with fitness, the obvious answer would be weight manipulation. Regardless of whether one is trying to lose weight or gain muscle, or simply keep his waistline as it is, fitness provides a way to manipulate these numbers. Combined with some methods I’m about to describe, the industry of fitness and healthy living has hacked couple of areas where weight can be easily manipulated.
Being a coach for a while, and an ardent student of health and fitness, I’ve been asked this question a lot- How can I lose/gain/maintain my weight? And while the answers are always broader than I’m eager to talk, this article will hopefully list and describe more weight loss manipulation methods than you are likely to give a try. The hope goes, as I write this, that you will pick a suitable method for your goals- be that weight loss, muscle gain, or simply maintaining whatever it is that you already achieved.
The methods differ from one another in many verticals. While some are more intense and demanding, others are quite easy to incorporate; becoming part of your life only for a month or two, or stretching for the length of a year…
The reason I’m listing this first is due to its popularity among those who stumble upon fitness for the first time. And there are two sides of the coin.
Layman belief goes that tightening the gap between how many calories you consume versus how many you spend is ultimately going to bring you to your goals. And while this is not how things work, there is still some truth to it.
First thing first, debating against this method, I will go ahead and say that not all calories are created equal- the calorie from an organic protein is not the same as the one coming from a processed fat. If you want to build muscle for example, you will certainly like to consume the first while avoiding the second.
Giving another argument against it, we are never fully capable of understanding the exact plus-minus equation, i.e. you can never know how much calorie expenditure lifting your toddler from the ground caused. Having this in mind, expensive calorie burner trackers are next to useless. And before you go out and spend several hundredths of dollars on a new heart rate monitor for the purpose of counting calories, let me save you the suspense and money both- it shows approximately the same number as your common sense would.
On the opposite side of the coin though, if you are aiming for weight maintenance, or general weight loss, it will help keeping the number of calories in mind.
A practice you would definitely like to stay away from- starving. Keeping your intake as low as possible accomplishes nothing but increasing fat storage in your body. The moment you are into a starve mode, the body holds on to fat tissue for dear life. You might eventually end up with a lower number the next time you step on the scale but, of course, this is an option if you are not that much interested into body composition (muscle versus fat tissue).
Good ol’ low intensity cardio
Pretty much how everyone started at the beginning right? We realize we are not entirely satisfied with our shape, and having heard that running will make things better we put on the shoes…
There are couple of things you need to know about cardio though.
While the low intensity one that we all love can greatly influence your calorie expenditure, it accomplishes close to nothing in terms of everything else. Let me give it to you straight- low intensity cardio will make you lose weight initially, but then comes a long and rather infinite line of plateau. It is the same as calorie counting for that matter- gonna make things slightly better, and over the long haul as well.
Fitness aficionados tend to stay generally away from low intensity cardio, since they consider it to be a potential muscle burner as well. Thing is, if you put yourself through a longer session of low intense cardio, there might be a catabolic effect on your muscle tissue.
The other side of the coin is that when low intensity cardio is combined with healthy eating for example, it might produce decent results after keeping with it for more than couple of months.
Things to have in mind- it is a slow and not very effective measure, but works just fine if combined with something else, or if your only goal is to maintain your weight or slightly lose some. Long sessions of low intense cardio, though making you lose weight, might also break down muscle tissue as well.
Generally the same from above applies here as well. Though endurance sports are much more effective in losing fat tissue than low intensity cardio can ever be, the flipside is just as much the opposite. Endurance athletes are indeed measuring their body fat percentage in the low numbers, but gaining more muscle and bulk is tenfold harder.
The barrier of entry is insanely high, and you usually need to start with something else and then, through a series of routines and practice, attempt endurance feats.
High intensity cardio
What many would regard as sprinting, or other short bursts of intensity like lifting heavy weights or doing demanding non-stop circuits of resistance training.
High intensity cardio is much more effective when it comes to weight loss and is even part of the process of muscle gain as well.
The level of intensity is much higher, and the barrier of entry is usually next to impossible if you are a fitness novice; much harder to incorporate into your daily routine if you are not deep into athleticism too.
This is a very effective, yet normally accessible method of weight manipulation. Interval training, in short, is combining the benefits of low and high intensity cardio into one. After a while of practice with low cardio, and some initial struggling with intensity variations, you will be able to endure a full interval training session. This way, as scientifically proven, you will be able to lose more fat tissue while avoiding the usual catabolic effect one would initiate from low intensity training only.
Harder to catch a grasp of at the very beginning, but very effective after you get used to it, this is one of those methods that I will recommend if your goal is to lose more weight, or simply shred more fat tissue while keeping muscle bulk as it is.
Simple resistance training
Though this might include some light weight lifting as well, it is usually associated with resistance moves which require nothing more but your own weight and Earth’s gravity. The routines may indeed vary and go from mild, moderate, to fairly intense or next to impossible.
These include variations of push-ups, sit-ups, squats and so many others I’m afraid I’m not able to list here. The general idea is to follow a routine that is going to focus on repetitions and sets, or leaving you out of breath by combining more exercises in a shorter period of time.
While these are easy to tweak to your current level and then mold into a routine for progression, it is very hard to witness massive results by following such a program. Though muscle building and fat draining, a plateau is usually reached after a while. As with anything else, really, only here there is not much to done afterwards but switch routines.
Easy to start with, easy to progress, and very easy to incorporate into your daily life; you are likely to witness results in weight loss, and more specifically fat loss and somewhat of a muscle gain over the long run. Combine it with some low intensity cardio, or better yet interval training and you will see some amazing results within a very short time frame.
Casual physical activity
I guess people’s favorite when it comes to periods of prolonged lethargy or simply wanting to maintain a healthy body or not allowing things to head more downhill. It can mean a different thing to different folks. Some would like to go for a hike during the weekend, others to go swimming after a stressful day at work. There is not much to be discussed here. As long as something makes your heart pumping a little faster, and your muscles activating here and there- be that a bike ride or heating up the atmosphere with your significant other in the bedroom- you are golden.
This method might maintain your current shape or make you lose a pound or two at best. If you are more active though, and combine these activities with a healthy diet or paying an eye on calorie intake, you might get somewhat further with weight loss, and even some muscle gain.
Adopted by many people who in combination with increased calorie consumption are hoping to build more mass, or by those who want to get a lean physique due to the intensity of the workouts, weight lifting- or going to the gym- does help a bunch.
The truth of the matter is that this is not a one size fit all, as well as it is not a singular routine to be memorized. Wight lifting can be done in myriad of combinations, hundredths of routines, and all of that is even more so relative when you change the resistance, i.e. add or subtract weight.
However, lifting light weights helps the body burn calories as well as tearing down a small amount of muscle tissue, which is then renowned by enough rest and nutrition achieving muscle growth.
Lifting heavier, though way more demanding, only serves to improve upon this process. However, different routines under different angles tear the muscle tissue in different ways, hence building your physique one way or another.
Try to avoid falling into this trap- lifting heavy while not paying enough attention on nutrition and healthy eating. Unless you want to bulk up your fair share, this is a dull practice to follow. Combined with proper nutrition though, weight lifting- heavy or light- is going to surpass other methods of weight manipulation by a huge margin. Throw in some interval training in the mix as well, and you are on your way to create both an impressive physique as well as dramatically improved physical condition.
Holistic fitness or more diverse programs
Which I’m a huge advocate of. Holistic fitness stands for incorporating more aspects of training, such as cardio, resistance training, and more athletic training in general into the mix.
Different programs offer different levels of intensity or methods of training, but they mostly center upon the cardio element and a lot of resistance training throughout the workout. You’ve probably heard about the Insanity workout, offering a lot of intense training in order to burn calories, lose fat tissue and gain some muscle mass.
Such programs incorporate flexibility and balance training as well, which though not very helpful with weight manipulation, will allow your body to become more agile and thus more able to endure more demanding methods of weight manipulation as time goes by. Another such programs are explained in these P90 workout review and Insanity Max 30 review.
And if you’re into dance workouts or your are simply looking for an easier workout, there is a new Beachbody workout called Cize, you can learn more about it here: Cize workout review.
These programs are usually more intense and will get you a lot of results in the lines of less fat tissue and more muscle mass, while requiring a lot of effort day after day. Combine them with proper nutrition, and you are on your way to have an impressive physique, and even better physical preparedness than should you decide to lift weights and do cardio.
The low carb diet, the paleo diet, and paying attention from what sources your nutrients come from… There are lots and lots of ways to manipulate weight (mostly lose weight) by using this method. Separating food or consuming your calories from one source instead of another is indeed very effective.
The paleo diet is something that is very close to what I subscribe myself. Non-refined food, consuming your protein, carbs and fats from organic sources…
The low card diet holds tight to the premise that an excessive amount of carbs will increase your weight, especially fat tissue. To reverse this process, you are eating more fats and protein on the expense of consuming carbohydrates.
Both of these diets work differently in combination with exercise to produce different results. They are both excellent at maintaining weight, or even losing some (even more if you are quite overweight), even just by themselves and without the help of exercise. Or you can simply follow a diet plan like that of the 21 Day Fix workout, and simply calculate what amount of protein and what amount of carbs and fats your body needs.
Playing sports, having a hobby, competing in something
Quite effective if you are the time-to-time fitness type of guy. Playing basketball or tennis once in a while will definitely help you maintain your current weight or even lose some if combined with healthy nutrition. Having a hobby like cycling would also help a bunch.
Effective in weight maintenance, and keeping yourself healthy; a jump position to other methods of fitness, though not to expect something more.
Moving more often
This is a habit thing more than a method, but here it is nonetheless. Moving more frequently whether that means taking a walk, or using the stairs more often or walking your dog might make a difference on the long run. Usually limited to weight maintenance, it can help you even lose some if you up the ante a little bit.
Take a bike to work, or walk more often, or even park further… The more you move, the better the chances to lose more weight and become more energized.
I hope this list gave you enough clue on what is easy for you to do and easy to incorporate into your life. If your goals are more ambitious, and you are more willing to work for them, I hope that it provided methods for that as well.
Here is to more options of fitness, and to a healthier better looking you!