"I want my shoulders to pop more in sleeveless dresses."
"I want those lines in between my thigh and my lower abs"
"I want to lose fat in my legs. I don’t want to be pear shaped."
Sound like you? Still struggling to get those things? You are in luck my friend because I wrote this post for you.
- 5 exercises for a tight tummy!
- Do these 3 moves to get rid of stubborn back fat!
- Try this fat melting, tummy tightening ab workout!
I’m sure you’ve seen stuff like this before, especially if you’re on Pinterest (be my friend pleeeeease!). Here’s the thing though. These posts are based in myth. And not even the cool kind like the Odyssey, but straight up falsehoods that run rampant in the fitness industry and capitalize on people’s insecurities.
And it sucks. Because you just want to get fit. You probably just want to feel better in your body and feel comfortable hanging out in a bikini. You probably just want to feel like you have control over your health and your body. Yet with so much unfounded nonsense on the internet it’s hard to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s talking BS (knowingly or not).
While implementation is 10x more important than knowledge. Knowledge is still important. Knowledge influences what decisions you make in and outside the gym.
What I’m going tell you in the post has prompted so many of my clients’ epiphanies. So many moments of, “This feels so much different than what I was doing before and I’m finally seeing results!” And it’s not like this is some super secret workout that I invented. I can hardly take credit. It’s all just things I’ve stolen from renowned strength coaches who are much smarter, and more experienced than me like Dan John, Bret Contreras, Molly Galbraith, Neghar Fonooni, and Tony Gentlecore.
Within a month of implementing the action items of this post, you’ll have that same “a-ha” moment my clients have where exercise finally starts to click and they realize change is actually fairly simple. Simple doesn’t mean easy, but it does mean effective.
I want you to stop fumbling around at the gym. I want you to get real results and strut into the gym confidently knowing how to exercise for your goals. It’s time to stop putting in tons of hard work without any results to show for it.
I’m calling out this myth specifically because it tells people to do the exact opposite of what they should be doing for a flatter stomach AKA this myth sucks.
Because you’re busy, like really REALLY busy. It seems like there’s not enough time to live your life. The weekends never seem long enough.
Between staying late putting out fires at work, traveling for work, and trying to have some semblance of a social life, you don’t have enough time to devote an entire workout to each body part. You don’t have time to spend your life in the gym. You’re workouts need to be efficient. You need to get the best results with the least time (Keep reading because I’m going to show you exactly how to do this.)
You need to massacre a flock of birds with 1 stone, rather than only slightly injuring 1 bird’s foot with 1 stone.
Why you’re not killing any birds right now
You can’t target fat loss to specific body parts. You can’t lose 5 inches off your waist and zero inches from your arms or legs. That’s just not how the body works. You have no control over where your body favors storing and losing fat.
In fact, the first place you notice weight gain will probably be the last place you notice weight loss. If you think about it, this makes sense. Where it’s the easiest to gain fat, it’s the hardest to lose.
And I know that sucks to hear, because the place you store the most fat is probably where you’re most eager to lose it. It’s OK though because I got your back.
You can lose that belly fat, just not in the way you’ve probably been told.
Building muscle tone vs. losing fat vs. losing weight
Muscle and fat are different tissues. They have different jobs so they don’t follow the same rules.
This is why you can target where you build muscle by doing specific exercises. You can’t target where you lose fat in the same way. This is why years of sit-ups and other “belly fat blasting moves” haven’t flattened out your stomach yet.
Where you lose fat isn’t determined by the exercises you choose. It’s determined by your genetics more than anything else. Different body types store fat differently.
So how do you lose fat in those problem areas then? If doing ab exercises won’t burn belly fat, what will?
You have to lose fat everywhere to lose belly fat. This is done through proper nutrition.
To make the number on the scale to go down, you need to eat less calories than you burn. This is called a caloric deficit. Remember this term, caloric deficit, because it’s the backbone of weight loss. Weight loss cannot happen without a caloric deficit. If a weight loss tactic works, it’s because it achieves a caloric deficit.
Unless you’re a teenager or Michael Phelps, you can’t avoid nutrition.
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When you’re in a caloric deficit, your body burns fat everywhere. It’s just that it appears like your arm exercises caused arm fat loss because you didn’t have as much fat there to begin with.
Plus, when compared with your abs, you can build muscle relatively easily in your arms (and your legs). This makes it easier to see muscle tone in your arms/legs than in your abs. So while your workout doesn’t determine where you lose fat, it does help determine where you can see muscle definition. Because more muscle = more muscle tone.
Without strength training, the caloric deficit burns up body fat.
But also muscle.
This means you could lose weight without looking more toned.
Muscle tone comes from having muscle. If your body eats up that muscle, you’ll have to buy smaller jeans, but your muscles won’t feel tighter or more defined. This is the difference between weight loss and fat loss.
- Diet alone = weight loss (no muscle tone)
- Diet + lifting = fat loss (muscle tone)
So strength training is important for fat loss, but not necessary for weight loss.
While strength training can give you a little caloric wiggle room, the main reason my online clients lift is because it gets them to their goal of getting that toned look.
Ok so you need to revamp your workout, but how? This next section will show you how to make the most out of your workouts to get the best results with the least gym time. Sweet deal, right?
The best exercises with the least amount of work AKA how to kill a metric shitton of birds
Your workouts should revolve around full body exercises that allow you to lift a lot of weight -- exercises that have the potential for you to lift the equivalent of your body weight with enough practice. You don’t have to lift that heavy, but your exercises should let you if you wanted to.
What exercises do I refer to, you say?
I’m referring to the 5 fundamental movements.
Exercises in these categories are called, compound, multi-joint exercises because they work multiple muscle groups at once.
These give you the fastest, best results with the least amount of work. They build the most muscle tone and make the most dramatic changes to your body in the least amount of time.
These are the cornerstone of making your workouts count.
Why are these moves so damn effective?
The fact you use more muscles means you can lift more weight. This not only does marvelous things for your hormones, improves insulin sensitivity, and increases resting metabolism, but builds a strong, athletic looking physique.
Lifting more weight is going to give your body more reason to change, because it’s more of a challenge.
Your body’s sole purpose is to keep you alive. It does whatever evolution has taught it necessary to achieve this. Muscle and strength are built by your body adapting to what it perceives as a threat. The end goal being to make what used to be a threat, not a threat.
When you load up 100 lbs on your shoulders and squat, your body sees this as threatening to your body as whole.
Because there’s a heavy ass weight on your shoulders trying to smush you, every muscle in your body has to work really hard to make sure you don’t collapse into a puddle of fail.
Compare this with doing sit-ups or bicep curls. Sit-ups are significantly less scary and intimidating emotionally, but also physically. This means the body doesn’t feel the need to adapt as much.
It’s like this:
Squatting/ deadlifting/pressing/pulling/carrying is like your body adapting to the threat of a tiger.
Curls and sit-ups are like your body adapting to the threat of a slightly disgruntled squirrel. While there still is some danger there, your body doesn’t need nearly as much, muscle, strength, and fitness to prepare itself for duking it out with a grumpy tree rat.
Big, compound exercises require more from your body, so your body will match those requirements and give you better results.
While going down the “exercises to burn calories” route is a faulty strategy (remember, nutrition always comes first) compound exercises do burn more calories than small exercises like sit-ups or curls. Which is a nice side-effect.
Using a bigger engine requires more fuel. The bigger the muscle used, the more power it has, and the more fuel it needs.
Exercises that use multiple muscles let you move more weight and do more work. More work=more energy used = more calories.
For example, when you squat, pretty much every muscle in your body is working to move the weight, especially the huge muscles in your legs, butt and back. This is why people can squat more weight than they can curl. Moving 100 lbs a few feet (squats) uses up more energy/calories than moving 20 lbs 1 foot (curls).
Here are my clients Diana and Christopher squatting 115 lbs for the first time and making it look like nothing:
In summary, heavy weights have a magical effect on the body. Not only will they give you a lean, toned physique, but provide tons of other health benefits like increased bone density, (which minimizes the risk of osteoporosis), and improved cholesterol markers.
Ok, so I need to lift to lose body fat. Where do I start?
To make your muscles feel more tight and toned, add in 3 days of strength training a week. Have 3 structured workouts that focus on squatting, deadlifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying. Instead of doing a million exercises every workout. Use no more than 8 total exercises. If this feels too easy and quick. Awesome! Rest up and go heavier next session :)
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If you want to lose fat from specific parts of your body, maintain muscle in the parts you want to be more firm. Do this by lifting weights and building healthy nutritional habits.
This stuff may not be how you’d like fitness to work. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. And the sooner you embrace this, the sooner you’ll see the amazing results you’ve been wanting for so long.
The takeaway is this:
- Pick exercises based on how many muscles they use at once, rather than trying to “spot reduce” by isolating muscles. So Deadlifts, Bridges, Squats, Dumbbell Presses, Dumbbell Rows will help you build muscle in the places you want muscle and burn fat.
- Fat loss happens in the kitchen. To lose fat, most of your energy, focus, and time should be spent building healthy nutrition habits.