Most people when faced with the problem of losing weight and keeping fit adopt a very lacklustre attitude (let me get a trainer – or a gym membership and get it handled kinda way). But considering if you were to buy a car, laptop or even furniture for your house, you would do tons of research, compare prices, read feedback, check out if you can get it directly from suppliers or consider buying during sales – Why should a makeover for your body be any different ? At any rate, you should even put in more and work because your body is important to you as is your health, you wouldn’t want it to get mishandled and you would be the best person to design your own workout (it’s your body after all).
It’s ironic that we should believe that gym classes or personal trainers are essential (other than the fact that they provide the motivation for going to exercise), the understanding and designing of the type of workout that you need is YOUR domain. Let’s get started on things you should know. So before you start choosing a gym and start spending because your relatives said you gained weight over the festive season or want to hit the ground running with this year’s new year resolution. I would highly advise you to know your purpose . Please read the link on purpose , after that lets get down to basics.
Gender and Body-Type differences.
Having trained a multitude of males and females. I find that different workouts appeal to different genders. It’s not pure fact but rather anecdotal (maybe just my biased view based on years in a gym) that men prefer hitting the gym and women prefer more group-exercise like classes (Body Combat, Body Jazz, ect). Though theres an equal number of men and women who enjoy a good jog or sports with friends.
Men – Preferences aside, men usually would benefit more from a gym workout due to their propensity to pack on more muscle mass than women and Women typically have 60-80% less muscle mass than men, and considering that muscle is the furnace for calories (and fat) it means it makes sense that men pack it on if they intend to lose weight as shown in this article. Also flexibility is an important issue to men (yes, we tend to get muscle bound, literally) not applicable to those who are gluttons for punishment and injury, flexibility is necessary. In fact a study showed that for the same sport, women who are more flexible had a 60% lesser chance of injury than men. For all the muscle heads that think stretching is for girls, it is proven in another study that stretching helps in muscle growth and recovery which helps in strength and consequently mass increases. And lastly a proper cardio plan should be put in place for fitness as well as obvious health reasons (preventing heart disease is a good incentive).
Women – On the other hand would benefit from a sensible cardio plan (Not forgetting to incorporate weight training to maintain bone density and basic strength levels). Bulking up is greatly exaggerated unless the woman is strongly mesomorphic (more propensity to put on muscle mass) most women shouldnt be too concerned about muscle mass distorting their figures. In fact muscles in combination to a sensible cardio exercise plan would lead to a more toned body and consequently a more desirable hip to waist ratio and toned arms (which of all body parts are the most visible) and shoulders (probably the second). Flexibility should not be an issue but should not be ignored either.
Body Type Differences
Basically, there’s different types of bodies. In brief these are the Ectomorph – Tall and skinny kinds, Mesomorph – Muscular kinds and Endomorph – tend to pack on more fat. The good news is that your body type can change if you change your lifestyle and the bad thing is that it requires quite a bit of effort and planning in doing so. So lets get down to the basics – A more detailed and qualified analysis of body type can be found here. ( You can do the test for fun but chances are that you would already know what type you are by now (unless mirrors are banned where you are).
So now that you have the basic idea. Here is a good place to gain more knowledge about the details of working out for your bodytype. Heres a summary of the things i personally feel is suitable for each body type.
Endomorph Basically all of us fall into that category (we always think we can do with less fat and more definition, ever feel like screaming at the waif like model who says shes fat ?). But seriously Endomorphs put on fat very easily and usually have a larger bone structure (not an excuse).
Training must be intense, endomorphs can and should run on the fuel which makes up a larger proportion of their body (Euphemistically put). The exercises would most likely include cardio as well as weight bearing exercises. But great caution must be taken with weight bearing exercises (jogging is one of them) because of their higher non-muscle weight, the impact on the joints is higher, so no jumps, long runs and stairs (Do remember that you are carrying additional weight already). Swimming and brisk walking is ideal for starting out, so use these for the main cardio program. Weight training exercises should be moderate (remember you need higher frequency and longer duration of exercise , so its better to work out moderately for 3-5 days rather than 2 days of intense exercise). Cardio should always accompany the weight training exercises with the latter done first so that you have sufficient “fuel” (glycogen) in your muscles to have a significant “muscle growing” (hypertrophy) effect. Emphasis should always be on the cardio (low impact pls), with the weight training to maintain and improve muscle mass.
Diet – Yes please. Dieting is very important for a Endomorph. It is highly advisable to aim for low glycemic index foods (slow sugar release), which would not spike up your insulin levels (which would make you fat). Your caloric intake should be in excess for you to reach an Endomorphic state, so its good to cut down if your weight is in excess of a BMI of 25 ( unless your BMI is 20 and below, which means you are delusional and should read the Ectomorphic workout session).
Counting calories is useful but don’t be obsessive (unless you are an accountant), a guideline is that you should consume less calories than you are right now and aim for a minimal that you can survive on. ( I am not a detective but for you to reach an increasing weight or endomorphic state, its a hunch that you are probably exceeding you caloric requirements and you should eat at a more reasonable rate). The first four are guidelines based on gender, while the bottom four are guidelines based on activity level, use the lower of either and not both (otherwise you would end up massively obese). So a 21 year old 180 pound sedentary male would be either need 2400kcal or 2340kcal (Choose the lower) and reduce accordingly. Try not to go too low below the recommended guidelines. Use a calculator online it helps. But a word of caution, dont get carried away with calorie counting, it NEVER works, you need a lifestyle change that is permanent and healthy and not someone to tell you what to restrict and what to do.
|Woman (Btwn 19 and 30)||2000 – 2400|
|Woman (Btwn 31 and 50)||1800 – 2200|
|Man (Btwn 19 and 30)||2400 – 3000|
|Man (Btwn 31 and 50)||2200 -2800|
|Obese||10 per pound|
|Sedentary||13 per pound|
|Moderately Atheletic||15 per pound|
|Athlethic||18 per pound|
Dieting guidelines should be easy to find, but a rule of thumb is that you should aim for at least 1-2kg of weight loss per month gradually (lose too much of it and its probably muscle as well and you are over training and it also means you are losing weight too fast and should look out for excess sagging skinfold). Theory wise, you need to to cut on 550 Kcal a week to lose 1 kg per week, but thats just theory. If you lower even by 100 Kcal, or cut the creamer from your coffee, you should start seeing sensible weight loss a month. So lose weight in a healthy range, and not aim for crash diets (they wont last anyway, can you imagine eating a powder diet for the rest of your life, a sensible diet with a sensible plan should be ok). Diets should always be sensible , and two questions you should ask yourself is “Is this healthy for me?”and “Can I eat this long term and fit it into my lifestyle?”. Train and eat healthy for yourself and not to fit into the stereotypical skinny waif-like model’s jeans. Train to love yourself and your body will reflect that accordingly.
More on Body Type Training on Design Your Workout Part II
- Maximize Your Workout, Learn Your Body Type (blissreturned.wordpress.com)
- Women and Weight Training – Advice from a Teacher, Trainer, and Fitness Competitor (naturallymydear.com)
- Resistance Training – Skip It and Regret It (dkfitsolutions.wordpress.com)