How to get and stay lean
Getting lean, getting in better shape, losing weight and/or improving our fitness is a long and arduous journey that takes tremendous time, effort and dedication. The hard part for most people is staying consistent for months and ultimately years. To me, that is the foundation, the consistency to show up day in and day out. That’s the hard part. Too many times we search for this fake motivational energy. Unfortunately, this type of “raw-raw” motivation is short lived. Understanding the below principles should be the priority. Let’s face it, action is required. If we do not follow through on the below principles, we are skipping out on the components that we need the most to succeed.
- Workout consistently 5-6 days per week for at least 12 solid months. You workout when you are busy, when out of town, on vacation, do shorter routines if needed, etc. The moral of the story is we need to workout to attain a lean and strong physique. You do not need to ambush your body; in fact, higher intensity and more difficult routines do not need to happen more than 1-2 workouts per week. The other workouts during the week should be moderate in nature, working up a good sweat and leaving you feeling energized and vital. If we get hurt because of poor programming, we then can not workout. If we can not workout, we lose out on a key principle to getting our fitness results.
- Weight lift a few days per week and get strong. Everyone can benefit from a balanced and controlled weight lifting program. I recommend keeping it simple. Do not overdo it and crush your body all the time. That just leads to injury and burnout. Perform squat variations, lunge variations, planks/side planks, farmer walks, inverted rows, push ups, etc; there is a plethora of exercises to perform; the key is to move with good technique and master the basics. You can change up the sets and repetitions, slow or speed up the tempo of the lifts and perform exercises in different order. A small tweak to the program can be a catalyst to getting your desired results.
- Do cardio a few days per week. With the current trend of “high intensity interval training”, “cardio” has been given a bad rap over the years. We need longer, less intense bouts of exercise. I truly believe most people are aerobically unfit and that is where cardio routines come into play. Cardio is a patience game. The intensity is lower in nature, it takes a little more time and it can get monotonous. But cardiovascular exercise is a critical piece to the puzzle to not only maintaining a leaner physique but also building a healthier and stronger heart muscle. Frequent bouts of exercise like walking, hiking, moderate cycling, and swimming, can all be added. The byproduct is that you will be burning more calories during the week with some added cardio sessions, which can definitely help you stay leaner.
- Most of the time eat lean, low fat and nutrient dense foods. This is an article in itself. We all know how important our nutritional habits are to body composition and weight management. This needs just as much attention as the workout side of things. At the same time, strict dieting and restricting ourselves is not the answer also. As I mentioned, “most of the time” we are following healthier food tendencies. We are focused on eating a plethora of plant based foods, lean and low fat proteins, low glycemic carbohydrates and less processed calories. Be mindful. Shop accordingly. Eat with intention… most of the time.
- Control calories and minimize calorie surplus days. I believe this is the most underrated principle in regards to fat loss and weight management. It’s simple, if we consume more calories than we burn in a day, and we are consistent in this caloric surplus, we increase our chances of gaining weight. Vice versa, if we eat just below our daily activity burn, and we do this consistently, we increase our chances of dropping fat. Eat less, move more. I know, it sounds so simple but for most people looking to lose weight or shed body fat, this is the main formula to consider. You can use “myfitnesspal” app on your phone to track calories to give you a better understanding of calorie intake.
Stay consistent. Perfection is not the answer. Consistency to follow through is the secret. This is the main point of this article. If you have aspirations to improve your fitness, achieve a performance goal or desire a leaner physique, start now. Do not wait till the New Year resolution craze. Remember, this is a long journey and the sooner we can start working on the above principles, the quicker we reap the benefits of consistently doing the work. So might as well start now.
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