If I was going to come up with a simple formula for getting the slim and lean look that looks great in and out of clothes, this would be it: Strength training while losing or maintaining weight. The main thing is to do strength training in a safe and sensible way. The other point is to do it without adding excessive muscle mass. Most people have never tried to gain strength while losing or maintaining weight. Typically people “bulk up” while strength training and lift light when losing weight. I suggest a different approach.
[Speaking of mathematical formulas…”A Beautiful Mind” is one of my all-time favorites. This movie blew me away!]
A Study Exploring Calorie Restriction on Muscle Mass
Effects of Resistance vs. Aerobic Training Combined With an 800 Calorie Liquid Diet on Lean Body Mass and Resting Metabolic Rate. This study has a really long name. Let me give you a quick summary…A Group of men and women stayed on an 800 calorie diet and only 80 grams of protein per day for 12 weeks. The group that did some form of strength training 3 times per week, did not lose any lean muscle mass. This was despite a very low calorie and protein intake! Why haven’t you read about this before in the Fitness Magazines? Well…they make a large portion of their income selling advertising to the big supplement companies. It wouldn’t be smart for them to upset their advertisers.
Forget The Typical “Muscle Loss While Dieting” Myth!
Losing muscle under calorie restriction won’t be an issue as long as you are doing resistance training at least 3 times per week. Your body has mechanisms in place to preserve muscle mass as long as it believes there is need for that muscle. Obviously if you are eating a low calorie diet and not training, there is a chance that you will lose muscle. So, lift weights while eating a strict, low calorie diet.
Those Carrying Excessive Muscle Are The Exception
Anybody who has read my blog for any period of time knows I don’t like or recommend “excessive muscle” (aka bodybuilding). I believe that everyone looks best at their “natural” level of muscle. What I mean by that, is the size that you get when becoming “functionally fit”…strong as well and quick with good cardiovascular fitness. A person with a big frame will hold more muscle than a person with a small frame and they both look great at their respective sizes An example…Duane Johnson “The Rock” has much more muscle than David Beckham, since he has a bigger frame than Beckham…but both are at a natural size and look great because of it. When Duane Johnson was a Pro-Wrestler, he had way too much muscle and it wasn’t a good look for him (an article about this…Duane Johnson Slims Down). Forcing your body outside of its “natural level” of muscle is tough to maintain under low calories, even while strength training…but again, I think you will like the way you feel at your natural size. If you have a lot of muscle mass and are sick of feeling sluggish, you may want to give this a try and get back down to a more manageable weight.
The Type of Strength Training I Recommend
So let’s get something straight…bodybuilding and strength training are two totally different activities. Strength training isn’t about exhausting the muscle, it is about generating tension in a muscle. The more tension you are able to generate in a muscle the stronger you will become. Heavier weights will allow you to generate more tension in a muscle, but this can be done with lower weights as well. Either way, I recommend using low reps. Lower reps allow you to concentrate on each individual rep better than high reps. Here are two previous articles that I wrote that address strength training in great detail. This may help you understand what an effective strength training routine looks like:
1) Gain Strength Without Fail By “Mastering the Weight”
2) Lift Light Weights for Low Reps to Gain Strength and Muscle Definition
You Can Safely Go “Low-Cal” for Short Periods of Time
I am always shocked at how quickly people will jump on you when you tell them that you are eating a low amount of calories. It kind of makes me laugh. I was unemployed a while back and went 3 months eating very few calories each day to save money. I was working out 4 times per week and actually looked and felt great during this whole period of time. Some of the time I just drank 4-6 cups of tea during the day and one meal at night. I was slightly smaller at the end of these 3 months, but that was probably due to my muscles being a bit depleted of carbs.
Turbo Charge Your Results With a Strategic Cardio Routine
The study above showed that resistance training along with a low calorie diet resulted in fat loss while maintaining muscle. To insure a maximum of fat loss, I recommend adding in cardio as well. From what I have seen…most people aren’t performing cardio in a strategic manner. Read my Fat Loss Cardio Routine, to see an example of how to combine HIIT and steady state cardio in a special way that maximizes fat loss.
Give this Formula a Try. You Will Like the Results
Note: Don’t go overboard here. I don’t want anybody to become anorexic. Make sure that you do the resistance training part and don’t go super “low cal” for any lengthy period of time. As always…moderation is important.
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Thanks for reading all these years!