Through my years working as a personal trainer as well as an avid exercise enthusiast in my own personal life, I have come to two realizations regarding most people’s exercise programs. First, most people want to lose weight; Second, most people never see results.
In the personal training business, when a prospective client is interested in your services, you often will sit down with him or her and discuss the respective goals. Nine times out of ten, goal number one is “weight loss.” Why do I put the cynical quotation marks on that phrase? Because nine times out of ten, body weight is completely irrelevant. Most people need to change their body composition; to build muscle mass and lower body-fat percentage. Some of the most dramatic changes I have ever seen have been a net weight change of only a few pounds but a shockingly different before and after!
Now, lets look at point number two as this pertains to the overall subject of this very article: results – or lack thereof. The unfortunate truth about the fitness industry is that day in and day out, ninety-nine percent of people in the gym look the same every day, every month and every year. Before we understand why this is, and how to fix it, lets get one thing clear: if you started exercising to change your body and you look the same after a few months, something is wrong with what you are doing.
Exercise is not rocket science and neither is changing your body. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions and errors that tend to screw up people’s success. Once again, we have two main reasons why most people don’t see results: First, too much cardio and not enough resistance training and second, a bad diet!
Cardio does not “burn fat.” It allows for greater caloric expenditure and creates a net effect over the twelve hours or so of greater fat metabolism – that’s about it. I’ve worked with plenty of marathon runners who have wanted to get rid of their belly fat and love handles. Resistance training, which builds muscle, is really what changes your body. If you want toned legs, a tighter butt, or to get rid of that jiggle in the back of your arms – that’s from weight training. Even more important, the more muscle the more calories you burn and the easier it is to stay lean. You don’t have to become a bodybuilder, but training with weights about three times a week will do more to change your body than all the marathon cardio sessions you can think of.
As for bad diet… fat loss happens in the kitchen. It does not require a million different supplements or any complex, painful diets. A diet high in protein (because protein is very filling, and actually uses a lot of calories to digest) with moderate amounts of carbohydrates coming from fruits and vegetables will change your body. It really is that simple! In all my years in the fitness industry I can’t think of one person that told me they became overweight from eating chicken, green beans and apples.
Exercise is great for our health and longevity, but many of us decide to start working out to change our physical appearance in some way. If you’ve been working out for a fair amount of times (a few months) and have not seen any difference in the mirror – you are doing something wrong and chances are it’s not enough resistance training and poor diet choices. Working out and changing your body should be rewarding. Make it that way by making the right choices.