DO YOU WANT TO BE "SKINNY"
At the beginning of every year, people migrate
to the gym to lose fat and gain muscle mass. However, the
methods that have been traditionally prescribed for these
goals may not be optimal. I would like to challenge the
notion that a training program devoted to aerobic exercise
is the best manner to achieve a low body fat percentage.
First of all, I admit there is no doubt that
aerobic exercise will burn a large amount of calories. The
greater the intensity and duration of the exercise, the
greater the number of calories that will be burned. However,
a high level of both intensity and duration can not be maintained
unless the individual is highly trained, leaving most individuals
struggling with an inefficient mode of weight loss. Furthermore,
the idea of sitting on a stationary cycle for 30 or more
minutes is not highly appealing to most individuals. There
must be a mode of exercise more enjoyable and beneficial
Second, almost all aerobic-exercise is restricted
to the lower body and therefore there is no training stimulus
for muscles of the upper body. A possible result of exclusive
aerobic conditioning is a loss of upper body muscle mass
(atrophy). Unfortunately, the loss of muscle mass results
in a lowering of the body's resting metabolic rate meaning
that as lean tissue is lost the amount of energy expended
by the body will be reduced.
Conversely, strength training helps promote
and maintain lean body mass (muscle) and conserves the metabolic
rate. So despite the ability of aerobic exercise to burn
more calories during the exercise session, strength training
makes up for that difference by burning more calories at
rest over the course of the day because of a greater muscle
mass. Strength training also contributes to greater levels
of self-confidence in the ability to perform in sports and
daily function and is an excellent activity for stress reduction.
This brings me to a comparison of body types,
in this case a sprinter and a marathon runner. On one hand,
the sprinter trains with high-intensity intervals and resistance
training and the result is a well-muscled physique with
extremely low body fat. In contrast, the marathon runner
trains exclusively with low-intensity, extreme duration
aerobic training and infrequent bouts of resistance training
to produce a very thin physique with a moderate to low level
of body fat. The question: Which athlete is skinny and which
is considered lean?
A program of exclusive aerobic training is
merely a step in the direction of becoming "skinny" as opposed
to developing a "lean" body. The catabolic effect of aerobic
training is enhanced by an overly severe reduction in caloric
intake that is often included in weight-loss programs. Strength
training has been shown to conserve lean body mass in combination
with calorie-reduced diets, again demonstrating the superiority
of resistance training in building a better body composition
(see ISSUE # 11).
Conditioning professionals recommend that
weight loss be kept to approximately 1% of body mass per
week in order to reduce lean tissue loss.
I recommend individuals looking to develop
a "lean and muscular" body re-examine their training modes
and programs. Consider a reduction in the amount of low-
OR moderate-intensity aerobic training and replace this
with shorter, higher-intensity aerobic training sessions
and most importantly, add resistance training to your arsenal
in the fight against body fat and the quest for a "lean"
FOREARM & GRIP TRAINING
FOR OVERALL STRENGTH
Forearm and grip strength improvements will
enhance your training and performance in lifts, athletics,
and daily function. Performing regular grip work will permit
the use of greater loads in back training (pull-ups, rows,
Squeezing a tennis ball is not an optimal
grip strength exercise because there is only one resistance
option (which can not be increased) and the resistance gets
weaker the more the ball is squeezed (while the grip gets
stronger). This exercise may help your grip endurance but
will not help you develop crushing strength.
Thick grips should be used as a source of
training variety. Vary the thickness of the handles the
same way you vary your training parameters (reps, sets,
etc.). The key, of course, is to continually provide new
methods of stimulation. There are a variety of exercises
that train the forearm flexors and extensors. Each will
slightly enhance overall grip strength and will contribute
to greater strength in exercises that depend heavily on
elbow flexion. Expect to have meatier forearms after you
consistently add these exercises to your training program.
- Grasp a heavy dumbbell in each hand and walk for 20
to 30 seconds before setting the weights down.
- Start with your wrists flexed. As you lift the weights
off the ground, they'll straighten your wrists out.
- Make sure you're balanced before trying to walk with
- Hold dumbbells at sides, palms facing in to the body,
curl the weight to shoulders bending only at elbow.
- Slowly lower to the starting position taking advantage
of the eccentric muscle action.
- Stand and grasp an E-Z curl bar with an overhand grip,
shoulder width apart, and rest the bar on the quads.
- Curl to shoulder level, do not swing hips, and lower
CB ATHLETIC CONSULTING