We each have the vision of the toned body we want—maybe it’s defined arms, lean stomach, tight glutes, more muscle and shaped legs. Sculpting your body is getting that look you want, whatever it may be.
As you eat PFC every 3, your body releases your stored fat, and that fat gets burned up in your muscle. To optimize your fat burning and truly sculpt your body, it’s all about working out smarter and more efficiently.
Too many times people hit a plateau they can’t break through, and it’s due to their lack of exercise diversity. We fall into a rut of doing the same types of workouts that originally got us results.
The problem is, your body is an ever-adapting machine and within weeks it can adapt to an exercise routine. Once it adapts, that workout shifts away from sculpting your body and toward simply maintaining your results. The way you prevent an exercise rut is to correctly diversify your workouts with the three types of exercise.
3 Types of Exercise
- Fat-burning cardio: This includes any moderate exercise like walking, stair-climbing, cycling, jogging, or swimming—basically when you have a steady heart rate and you’re not winded. Fat-burning cardio activates your body’s red muscle, which is about 50 percent of your skeletal muscle, meaning the muscles you voluntarily control. This means that if you can move it—like when you lift your arm, scratch your back, or walk upstairs—you are using skeletal muscle.
- High-intensity cardio: This is better known as interval training, which is characterized by bursts of speed (high heart rate) followed by recovery periods (lower heart rate). Some examples are sprinting, jumping rope, spinning, running stairs, boxing, or most ball sports (like singles tennis, racquetball, basketball, and soccer). Basically, anything that has bursts of speed followed by moments of recovery. High-intensity cardio activates your body’s white muscle, which is approximately the other 50 percent of your skeletal muscle.
- Strength training: This is any type of exercise that over loads your muscles and causes them to become stronger. A few examples are weight training, Pilates, yoga, kettlebells, CrossFit, and exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and squats. Always remember, more muscle equals a faster metabolism, so strength training is great for men and women, and it’s been shown to help improve bone density as well.
Since you now understand the 3 types of exercise, let’s dive into how to maximize every workout, simply follow these steps when creating your workout plan:
Step 1 – Know Your Oxygen Line:
Your oxygen line is an imaginary line that, when crossed, takes you into high-intensity cardio or back into fat-burning cardio.
This line is established once you become familiar with both your fat-burning and high-intensity heart rates and allows you to always be clear on which type of cardio (fat-burning or high-intensity) and what type of muscle (red or white) you are working. This knowledge will enable you to perform your cardio smarter than before.
Step 2 – Choose the Best Cardio Movements and Use Proper Technique:
There are two factors that determine the quality of a cardio movement:
- The Amount of Muscle the Exercise Recruits
You would think that if you were walking on a treadmill on a 15 percent incline for the same time and at the same heart rate as on a stationary bike, you would burn the same amount of calories.
The truth is walking on a treadmill on a 15 percent incline (not holding the handrails) recruits approximately twice as much muscle as a stationary bike. This means that in the same exercise time, by doing a high quality exercise, you are actually burning twice the amount of fat!
- The Level of Impact the Exercise Has on The Body
Because your body reacts to stressors, the level of impact an exercise has on your body affects your results. The level of impact you choose depends on your health and goals.
Jogging or sprinting is considered a high-impact exercise due to the force of your foot hitting the ground. High impact exercises are the best choice for high intensity cardio (only if your body can handle the impact).
Stair climbing or walking is considered low impact because your foot makes contact with much lower force and is best for fat burning cardio because it provides enough stimuli to drop weight and strengthen bones but not so much impact as to create negative stress on your body.
Swimming or cycling is considered non-impact since your foot does not make impact with the ground.
Walking up hills or on an inclined treadmill or climbing stairs are your best fat burning cardio exercise options. You can also cycle, row, or swim at a sport level (some form of competition training). Even though cycling, rowing, and swimming are non-impact, they will recruit a large amount of muscle fibers due to the level of intensity.
Sprinting and running stairs are your best high intensity cardio exercise options. You can also cycle (or spin), row, or swim at a sport level (some form of competition training). Cycling, rowing, and swimming at a sport level can be done for both fat burning and high intensity cardio exercises.
Remember, high intensity cardio uses the same overall movements as fat burning, just at a higher level of intensity and with a burst of speed followed by a recovery period.
Step 3 – Optimize Your Strength Training
Cardio increases your endurance and burns fat and strength training improves your strength, muscle tone and size.
There are two types of strength training: core training and weight training.
Core Training Strengthens Your Entire Body
In the most general terms, your core can be defined as your body minus your legs and arms and core muscles are involved in every movement you make.
Core training will increase flexibility, improve strength, lengthen the body, and develop muscle tone and definition without adding muscle size.
Initially, everyone should do core training. Once you learn how to activate your core, you can move on to the second type of strength training: weights.
Learning how to train your core requires the ability to connect your mind with your body. Here are three ways to best activate your core:
- Pilates: is core training that focuses more on strength.
- Yoga: is core training that focuses more on flexibility.
- Core Specialists: are health professionals who specifically focus on core training.
Pilates, yoga, or working with a core specialist can be done through one-on-one instruction or group classes at a gym or studio. You can also purchase videos of each method.
Weight Training Increases Muscle Size and Bone Density
Weight training is strength training that focuses on lifting weight to increase muscle size. In weight training, you continually increase the amount of weight you lift over a period of time. Weight training causes minor damage to the muscle, causing it to repair itself and increase in size each time (that’s the soreness you feel the next day!).
If your goal is to gain muscle, then you should weight train. Once you achieve your goal, you can adjust your training by shifting back to core training or lifting lighter weights to maintain-not gain-muscle mass.
Weight training is a learned skill that when done incorrectly, can lead to injury or muscle imbalances.
For that reason, it’s critical to start with one of the following three methods:
- Work with a qualified personal trainer
- Take a weight lifting class
- Get a video
Ok now since you have the complete 411 on working out smarter and more efficient, here’s an illustration providing a quick snapshot of how to structure your workouts to get all three types of exercise in, recruit both your red and white muscle, maximize your fat burning, and increase your lean body mass (muscle). Simply adjust the recommended days to match your schedule.
If you goal is to burn fat, make sure to get at least 4-5 days of fat-burning cardio and 2-3 days of high-intensity cardio per week, as well as 2-3 days of strength training.
If your goal is to maintain/gain weight and primarily build muscle, ONLY do 3-4 days of fat-burning cardio for 30 minutes and no high-intensity cardo. Focus primarily on 4-5 days of strength training.
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