There’s an interesting trend going on in the fitness industry that I am extremely excited about!
Have you seen all these huge body builder dudes hanging off rings, standing on their hands upside down and stretching?? Yep it’s happening!
Gymnastics strength training and movement practice is something that is growing for both males and females in all different ages. As you know I’m a big advocate of this type of training seeing the great results of injuries going away, and the strength and flexibility my clients and I have gained!
It is also a way of keeping your training interesting. A lot of people actually don’t like doing the typical strength and conditioning that is so good for them and will build muscle and lose fat. Some people learn to like strength training but some fall out because they don’t. I like to make it interesting and challenging for the client (at the same time as I sneak in some mobility!) so they keep their motivation high.
An extra, very welcome, outcome of this type of training in combination with a good nutritious diet that I’ve seen is fat loss! I’ve got a personal experience with this; I’m not a big person, I weighed 59kg in October last year and after 3 months of gymnastic strength training and a nutritious diet (limited gluten, dairy and sugar) I went down to 55kg, I lost 2% fat and gained 1 kg of muscle. With a leaner body today I don’t need to keep my diet as strict, but lets talk about that another time.
There are two things that are good with gymnastics strength and movement training when it comes to keeping things interesting:
1) You are working on a skill rather than a muscle – Many people find it mind numbing to do rep after rep on the bicep curl because it’s not exciting plus it’ll hurt at the end of it! But trying to lift yourself up on the bar or rings is something that is considered “cool” because it’s hard. Anyone can curl a dumbbell but pulling your whole self up and touch the chest on a bar is an amazing feeling of achievement! I know a chin up trains the back and a bicep curl the biceps but you’ll still use your biceps when you pull yourself up and to be honest, what movement would you rather be strong in; being able to pulling your whole body weight up or curling your arm? What’s more useful for you?
2) It brings out your competitive and humble side because skills like handstands, chin ups and planche are cool, but they are hard – There’s nothing that says that you cannot do a free handstand or a planche, it’s all about the journey (I know it’s a bit of a cliché but it’s true). The beauty of the gymnastic strength training as it is today with great online tools like the gymnastic bodies foundation program is that they break it down very well and start with the basics! Working with a good coach that can assess and find out where you’re weak and tight will get you started on that journey. Starting out jumping into a handstand or trying out a planche when you’ve barely done it before just because you’re a strong person is stupid because the joints are not conditioned for this type of training. Set up a clear plan with goals to gradually take you closer to the bigger goals will make you motivated and every time you reach the next level of the particular skill it’ll give you a boost of confidence to keep going, to do that chin up! This process will keep you humble and make you competitive, Trust me!!
Luke keeps reminding us about how adherence or consistency is key for fat loss results. Having a training routine that is FUN that you are more likely to STICK TO will get you the furthest, no doubt! Adding excitement and challenges into your training will keep your competitive and humble side bubbling long after you’ve reached your fat loss goals.
Maybe it’s Gymnastic strength training that is your FUN training, maybe it’s something else… Try it and find out!
Want to know more about the gymnastic strength training we do with our client?
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There are many approaches to nutrition that work.
Some coaches will tell you that all you need to do is count calories.
Some coaches will tell you the opposite - that calories should never have your focus, and instead you should only pay attention to the quality of the food you eat.
Each point of view - and all the shades of grey in between - has some validity.
What we know about fat loss is that your total energy intake definitely matters. The research is irrefutable, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either not familiar with the scientific literature or is lying to you.
Obviously, we can manipulate the energy in/energy out equation by either taking in different amounts of food or expending different amounts of energy through activity.
Fanny previously wrote an article on general movement for fat loss, the goal of which is to improve your general quality of movement, but also to provide a boost to NEAT - non-exercise activity thermogenesis. In other words, the movement you do during the day that isn’t planned exercise.
In this article we’re going to look at the main components involved in achieving fat loss from a nutrition perspective. More specifically, the point of this post is to show you that even though a diet setup might focus on a particular area, it can produce meaningful effects on the other factors involved in fat loss.
This might sound like it’s a bit confusing - after all, most articles you read try to point you to the ONE THING YOU MUST DO TO LOSE WEIGHT.
But actually, it really means that we have a great deal of flexibility with which to set up a diet, and so long as we ensure adherence to the fundamental principles, you can utilise a variety of methods to ensure compatibility to your lifestyle.
This ultimately leads to consistency - the key factor in maintaining your desired weight.
So, let’s dive into it!
Looking at the science, we can say for sure that the most important variable in fat loss comes down to creating an energy deficit, but there are other factors that are important too:
1. Energy balance
2. Macronutrient ratios
3. Food quality
4. Meal timing
We also have an abundance of evidence showing that there is an optimal protein intake that is conducive to both muscle building/retention and fat loss (and by the way, it’s probably about double the recommended daily allowance).
So, how do we control calorie intake?
You could calorie count, but it’s not strictly necessary. Some people will do really well by trying to hit their numbers every day, and others will fail miserably.
Turns out, you can control calorie intake by focusing on one of the “less important” fundamentals principles in the fat loss hierarchy - like food quality, for example.
The most obvious diet set up that focuses on food quality is the paleo diet - the typical guidelines are to eat foods that are minimally processed, leading to a focus on animal proteins and vegetables.
Unsurprisingly, when you cut out foods that are relatively low in satiety, but energy dense, you automatically regulate your energy intake. I’ve never seen anyone overeat leafy greens, and focusing on whole animal foods provides a huge amount of filling protein.
Even on the starch side of things, potatoes and rice are fairly energy dense, but also come up as some of the most satiating foods available.
So we’re left with a big focus on food quality that intrinsically takes care of the energy balance equation and ensures our macronutrient ratios are balanced.
Let’s tackle another diet setup.
According to the research, meal timing is pretty far down the hierarchy for fat loss compared with energy balance and macro ratios. However, some diet setups focus on timing - such as intermittent fasting.
The typical IF model tends to use a 16 hour fasting window and an 8 hour feeding window. There are lots of variations, but let’s use this as an example. By cutting out your ability to eat for most of the day, you are effectively putting a limit on how much food you can consume.
There are plenty of people out there who will hit their 8 hour feeding window and gorge themselves silly, but it’s really hard to consistently pack away as many calories as you would if you had double the amount of time to available throughout the day to eat.
IF is pretty good, therefore, at controlling snacking throughout the day - as well as the overall volume of food you can fit into each day. So while the focus is on meal timing, the fundamental principle of energy balance is also addressed.
The point I’m trying to make is that although there is a lot of argument for and against each diet regime, in essence most of them will work just fine. In theory, if you stuck to the numbers, you could get shredded on KFC - but, you won’t be able to eat much food (because it’s really energy dense) and you’d feel terrible (because it lacks micronutrients).
I like to think of myself as diet agnostic. There are some methods I've more success with than others, but almost anything is workable in some way provided the fundamentals are taken care of.
As a coach, my job is to come up with a setup that addresses the fundamentals in such a way that my clients will be able to stick to it long term - I don’t care if you can count calories like a robot for 12 weeks if all you’re going to do is go right back to what you were doing before.
By the same token, I will never tell someone that they can’t afford to eat a little ‘junk’ food every now and then - because as long as their overall energy balance and macro ratios are correct, they will lose fat regardless!
I’m going to stop there for now - this is obviously a topic that could go on for pages and pages.
Let us know if you’d like to see more articles expanding on the principles involved in diet design!
Evans EM, et al "Effects of protein intake and gender on body composition changes: a randomized clinical weight loss trial." Nutr Metab (Lond). (2012)
Farnsworth E, et al "Effect of a high-protein, energy-restricted diet on body composition, glycemic control, and lipid concentrations in overweight and obese hyperinsulinemic men and women." Am J Clin Nutr. (2003)
Golay A, et al "Similar weight loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets." Am J Clin Nutr. (1996)
Golay A, et al "Weight-loss with low or high carbohydrate diet." Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. (1996)
Leibel RL, et al "Energy intake required to maintain body weight is not affected by wide variation in diet composition." Am J Clin Nutr. (1992)
Loenneke JP, et al "Quality protein intake is inversely related with abdominal fat." Nutr Metab (Lond). (2012)
If you’re diet is good, you’re training hard and you’re sleeping well but still not losing fat you need to trouble shoot; Why am I not losing fat?
You have the typical person with a desk job that comes in because they’ve gained way too much weight since they’ve started their new job- “The desk job” and now it is time for them to get rid of that excess! But it’s often not “just” to get started with training and eat better for these people to lose fat, they also need to address the “desk job”!
What we often see with these types of people (desk job-folks) is that they simply don’t get enough movement into their everyday life. In general when it comes to fat loss we need to have a look at energy in versus energy out. For fat loss we need to use more than what we put in the bread hole 1, 2. Looking at everyday activity and movement will be important for these guys and everything from parking further away from work so the walk increases, to taking the stairs instead of the elevator will be helpful. Many people try to get their training in before or after work, which is awesome!
If you have a desk job I would like to encourage you to train before or after work (lunch time gets a little to busy and stressful in my opinion and could have a reverse effect but if that’s honestly the Only time you can get it in, by all means do it!) and at lunch time why not get outside moving for another 30 minutes?
Our bodies are design to move and will slowly deteriorate if you don't!
Here’s what you can do during your lunch break:
Try some new mobility exercises for your lower body (it will tighten up from sitting down and you will feel so much better!)
Walk like different animals; duck walk, bear walk etc
Walk and Stretch
Practice your balance
Or you can do what I did on Sunday morning when I went to the park; improvised movement! It was so much fun, I loved it!! I felt creative and I did movements that felt good and that stretched out my body. Nothing exact in straight lines as we often do when we train but rather in all different plains and angles. I was inspired by Ido Portal.
Apart from being active during your lunch break I would also recommend you to stand up every 20-30 minutes; go to the printer, get more water, stretch your legs or simply just do some arm circles! Be Creative 🙂
After reading this it’s easy to think, “Yeah I should do that”, change your attitude and act now, say “ Yeah, I will try this tomorrow”, pack your clothes and try it!
--> Be creative – Have fun - Lose fat <--
1. Thomson RL, et al The effect of a hypocaloric diet with and without exercise training on body composition, cardiometabolic risk profile, and reproductive function in overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome . J Clin Endocrinol Metab. (2008)
2. Strasser B, Spreitzer A, Haber P Fat loss depends on energy deficit only, independently of the method for weight loss . Ann Nutr Metab. (2007)
Lets talk about conditioning your body to the point where injuries have no place in your life any longer.
Most people have heard of “Rehab” – Rehabilitation, which is the type of training you would do after an injury/surgery or other trauma to come back to your original state.
“Prehab” – Rehabilitation is the training you do to avoid injuries. It is the training you do to improve the body’s function and the ability to handle the stress you put on it through training, sport or work.
How can you incorporate prehab into your training regime so that you avoid rehab (I mean injuries!) ?
Imagine an exercise that would improve flexibility, strengthen AND stabilise through the range of motion in a joint!
The answer is: Mobility
A flexibility exercise will increase range of motion in a joint and a mobility exercise will increase range of motion, stabilise (read: control) and strengthen through the range of motion!
You would get most bang for you buck being MOBILE rather than just STRONG or just FLEXIBLE. Having strength, control, body awareness and at the same time be flexible is GOLD and will save yourself from entering the dark whole of injuries.
What would a typical mobility exercise look like?
Mobility exercises could be incorporated as a warm up or in between strength exercises, it depends on goal and what phase you’re in. For one person it could serve as preparation for training but for another person it could be used in a fat loss routine to increase flexibility between sets for maximised results. Luke and I use a lot of mobility exercises to make our clients and athletes strong and flexible!
Do you want to know more about how we avoid injuries by programming prehab into our training regimes?