Being a physique athlete taught me a lot about how to “sculpt” my body through diet and exercise. Since I have been getting a lot of questions on this lately I thought I would post the basics.
- Cardio will not necessarily change the shape of your body. Not only will cardio not change your shape, but as you burn fat you lose muscle, so the definition that you have will disappear. This also slows your metabolism because the less muscle you have, the less calories you burn. Your body will also adapt to become more efficient at the cardio program (i.e. burn less calories). I’m not saying that cardio doesn’t have a place in your routine, I am just saying that it shouldn’t be your only focus.
- Building muscle is a good thing. As we age our muscle mass decreases thus it gets harder to maintain the muscle that we have. Muscle burns more calories so the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest.
- You cannot spot reduce but you can spot build– Many people request ab work, because they think it will help them get a six pack, but the reality is you can’t choose where your body burns fat. Some people burn fat evenly all over, some people tend to hold on to fat in a particular area due to genetics, hormones and/or other factors. You can, however, choose where you build muscle by focusing your training on those areas. Want a smaller waist? Work to build up your glutes and shoulders to create the illusion of a smaller waist and lose body fat by watching your diet.
- Nutrition is 80% of the battle– If you put 100% into training but your diet is off, you will not see results. A well planned nutrition program (which includes keeping track of calories, macronutrients and micronutrients) is absolutely essential to changing your body shape. If you want to lose weight, make sure you are in a caloric deficit. Think about it this way, one hour of weight training burns about 300 calories. 2 glasses of wine is approximately 300 calories. Don’t undo your hard work by slipping up with your diet. Conversely, I’ve seen people get over zealous with their diets and end up going far too low in calories. This is counterproductive even if you are trying to lose weight. I would never recommend taking calories below 1200 and for an active person I would recommend at least 1600 calories a day. Devices like fit bit or jaw bone are a good way to track how many calories you are burning in a day. My favorite app for keeping track of calories you eat is My Fitness Pal
Do you have questions about sculpting your physique? I’d be happy to work with you!