"Summer bodies are made in the winter."
The above statement should be glued to your wall. Winter can be a tough time to diet or just maintain body weight due to the festivities and the craving to eat all the chocolate, drink wine, miss workouts because it's dark, early and the rest of it. There is no doubt it's hard to keep focused during Christmas as it's the time to enjoy with family and friends. We've created this little guide for you to make the most out of your workouts and use these diet and training tips to make sure you keep as much fat off as possible, so when the summer comes you won't need those extra 4-6 weeks to diet. We cover the best times to do cardio, kettlebell exercises, tips and tricks, bodybuilding supplements, fat burner supplements and more.
Cardio and the rules:
When people are planning their workouts a common question that often comes up is when to do cardio. Lots of people are unsure whether to go running before or after their weights, as they don’t know which option will benefit them the most. If you want to build muscle and burn fat then it’s probably best to do your cardio after your weights session. When you are lifting weights, you are burning off a lot of the excess sugar in your system and predominantly using any carbohydrates that you’ve got stored. Then when you come to do the cardio afterwards you can target fat more and you’ll end up burning more calories.
Obviously it depends on your training goals and the type of equipment you have access to, but in general, you will get more out of your weight training if you do cardio afterwards. Here are the main benefits of doing weights first.
Lift Heavier Weights
When you’re working on strength training, you won’t be tired from a tough cardio session, so you should be able to put 100% into lifting the weights. You won’t feel as fatigued or out of breath so you will be able to lift heavier weights than if you had done your cardio beforehand. You will be much more efficient and get more done in the time you have.
Get Your Technique Right
If you are exhausted and disoriented from a hard run on the treadmill, or a rousing turn on the elliptical you won’t be able to concentrate very well. You may lose focus and find it difficult to get your technique right. If you are feeling weaker, then your technique is likely to suffer which can cause lots of problems if you’re working with heavy kettle bells or weights.
Burn More Calories
Doing your weights first will mean you can put more effort into lifting increasingly heavy amounts so you’ll be able to really push your body to the limit. This will result in your burning more calories during your weight session than if you had done cardio first.
If you are looking to build muscle, try separating your cardio and weights into different workouts. You can do them either on a separate day, or do cardio in the morning and weights in the evening. This is how some professional athletes, like bodybuilders or rugby players split their days up.
Workouts like skipping and sprints may be more also be beneficial than longer steady pace workouts such as running if you are looking to build muscle. Sprints will predominantly use fast twitch muscle fibres, and that produces more of a sprinters’ physique than that of a marathon runner.
Benefits of Kettlebell training
Kettlebell training allows us to fit our fitness and health into our busy lifestyles and possibly be even easier on the budget to do at home, in the mornings and evenings (disclaimer – we are not held responsible for kettlebells coming into contact with light shades and bulbs!). Here are a few of the benefits:
- Increased cardiovascular fitness without having to spend hours on the treadmill.
- Functionality in the strength gains that you make throughout without having to go through rep after rep of isolation.
- Increased fat loss due to the high metabolic factor that swinging and throwing a weight around will give you (not literally throwing!)
- Different to barbells and dumbbells in the way that it won’t just hit the targeted muscles it will also smash the core muscles too.
- It will combine cardio AND strength training throughout the sessions bringing a whole new level of fitness to your game.
- It is a much more enjoyable (if that is the word!) way of doing your workouts taking the monotony out of some of your sessions.
- You can take your kettlebell around with you, nice and portable.
- Increased muscular endurance and power.
- Increased overall fitness.
- Increased flexibility.
- For busy people it is perfect, you can combine the weights and cardio in one and then still get the session in before you have to get your JT on and rock your ‘suit and tie s***’.
- It can aid in increasing your overall flexibility without having to go through long drawn out stretches and the potential risks of some other dynamic stretching.
As you can see, there are loads of benefits that Kettlebell training will bring to the table even if you were to fit one of these in per week. You may find it will allow you to lower the overall amount of cardio as kettleblell training is great for fat loss and gains in fitness.
Training With Intensity
Training with the right amount of intensity can be the difference between you getting results or not getting them. If you just plod along in your steady state comfort zone on the treadmill then you'll eventually only reach light or moderate levels of exertion! Not training hard enough often means that your body won't have even used up its stores of glycogen yet, never mind fat stores! So what constitutes intensity when it comes to training? What's the definition of intensity when doing cardio and what is it when you do something anaerobic like weightlifting?
For circuits and cardio, training with intensity is classed as exercising your heart rate close to your 'maximum oxygen carrying capacity' or your 'VO2' for short! When you train this hard you'll also be building up large amounts of lactic acid and getting into what's known as 'oxygen debt'. Oxygen debt is what you often times incur when you're training extremely hard. Your muscles that use oxygen for respiratory needs much some much faster than it can be supplied to them. Because of this, your muscles then start to respire anaerobically and as a by-product they produce lactic acid.
When you've finished the intense activities, your muscles still require oxygen to get rid of this lactic acid so the oxygen you still owe these muscles is then considered an 'oxygen debt'. When weightlifting, training with intensity is generally considered the level where you feel your muscles will fail within around 30 seconds or less of intense lifting. You should feel like you can't do another rep. Weightlifting can also be made more intense if you include drop sets and also really concentrate on the negative contraction of the movement. Emphasising and prolonging the downwards movement of your lift will greatly reduce the amount of weight you can use but it will definitely create more intensity.
Another way to increase intensity with weights is to include just one or two more sets than you usually do, but then if you also put a shorter time limit of something like 45 minutes on your workout then that can also force you to forego unnecessary extra rest time and finish your sets quicker. Generally, the lactic acid build-up you'll have been feeling during and after a workout will be completely recycled after thirty minutes, whereas when your ATP stores become depleted they can replenish within just two minutes of rest!
Your body can burn up to three times more calories during intense exercise as opposed to low intensity movement
The benefits of training with intensity are huge and numerous. By keeping the workout short and intense, e.g. 45 minutes maximum, you'll stimulate growth hormone secretion and increase the production of testosterone around your body in much larger amounts than you would otherwise. Growth hormone is an essential factor in developing lean muscle and also preserving your gains once you've made them. Your body can burn up to three times more calories during intense exercise as opposed to low intensity movement and your muscles can benefit from increased sensitivity to insulin and muscles that store glucose as glycogen for energy rather than fat stores!
You can feel more motivated for the rest of your day as intense exercise stimulates a considerable flood of dopamine and endorphins into the brain, boosting your mood. Don't forget, more sweat means more detoxing, and any aggression or angst you may have felt pre-workout can be channelled into one of the most positive activities you can do. The next time you have to play in a football match or do some rugby training, you'll feel like you can keep going without experiencing too much lactic acid or a shortness of breath! Intense cardio also leaves your metabolism sky high for hours after you've left the gym, much longer in comparison to steady state cardio.
The more you do cardio and the fitter you get, the more the size and number of cell mitochondria within your muscles will improve, thereby increasing each cell's oxygen capacity and therefore the amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise. These improvements will allow you to stay in your aerobic range and out of oxygen debt when you're training at high intensity. Your tolerance for lactic acid will also increase, making the workouts feel much easier.
Fat Blasting Tricks and Tips
- Drink 3 cups of green tea a day! This handy trick requires no more effort than a trip to the kettle or fridge and will boost super charge your metabolism
- Cycle those Carbohydrates! Carb cycling has been used effectively by competitive body builders and is a top trick for fat burning!
- Swap that long run for some Interval training! Alternating between high intensity and low intensity training will blast even more calories and give you a greater calorie burn once your workout has ended!
- Add squats to each training session! The squat is a full body movement and maximum muscle movements mean maximum calorie burn
- Get 8 hours sleep a night! Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 8 hours a night have a slower metabolism. Therefore, if you want to boost your metabolic rate and decrease recovery time. Sleep is the answer. If you have trouble sleeping, combine Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6 to make sure that you get a restful nights sleep.
- Take a pre workout prior to training. Including a pre-workout like Performance Charge will ensure that your training is intensified and great intensity means greater results.
- Say no to alcohol! Alcohol inhibits your fat-burning hormones and is empty calories, so the best thing to do is just say no!
- Add some up tempo music to your workout! That's right, updating your Spotify playlist can increase your motivation and improve your performance. This is backed up by Research from Brunel University, which showed that listening to fast paced music during a run enhanced aerobic endurance and drive
- Eat more GREEN veg! Green vegetables help you to absorb protein more easily and keep you full for longer.