Want to look your best? Who doesn’t? Do you know how to get the job done? Rest easy. Why? We know how to do it and we share those tips with you right here. You’re welcome!
Everybody has a different fitness goal that they are working on. Some are trying to build muscle. Some are trying to lose fat. Some want to do both. No matter what your goals are, just know that they are definitely achievable when you take the time, work hard and follow the right program.
We always try to make that as simple as we can for our readers here at Gym Junkies. As a result, today we’re going to break it down for you and give you the best tips possible to achieve the best body composition ever.
Take these tips to heart and go achieve the achievable!
What Is Body Composition?
Body composition refers to the ratio of body fat to fat-free mass. Fat-free mass is everything else like bone, muscle, water and other tissue. A lot of people tend to think that all they need is pure muscle. But, there must be some amount of fat in the body for many reasons.
Fat protects the organs, provides energy and is very necessary in regulating hormones.
These Are The Risks Associated With Having Too Much Body Fat
When there is too much fat in the body, it can be a problem. A high percentage of body fat can lead to many health issues. For instance, it could lead to pregnancy complications, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, greater risk of stroke and even cancer.
Overweight people can also eventually suffer from joint pain as excess weight puts a lot of pressure on our joints as we perform even the simplest of activities such as walking.
These Are The Risks Associated With Having Too Little Body Fat
Having an extremely low body fat percentage can also take a toll on your health. How? It can affect your cardiovascular system’s ability to function properly. Also, if you have a very low body fat percentage, you may find that your energy levels are lower than normal.
The reason is because when your body’s fat reserves have nothing stored in them, there is no way to make energy.
Other complications associated with a low body fat percentage are problems such as a slowed heart rate, feeling cold, a reduction in the production of hormones, dry skin, brittle bones, a loss of muscle tissue, damage to the nervous system, shrinkage of the organs and more.
What’s the Ideal Body Fat Percentage?
This depends on a few different things. For starters, it’s different for men and women and it can vary with age. A safe and healthy body fat percentage for an adult male is between 15 to 20%, and it’s between 20 to 25% for an adult female.
Having a little more or less in either direction is not a problem. It only becomes an issue when men go above 25% and women go above 32%.
Getting to those levels is considered a health risk. For the opposite direction, it’s never a good idea for men to go below 3%, and women shouldn’t go below 13% body fat. Anything in between those numbers is entirely up to the individual’s preference.
This Is How To Check Your Body Fat Percentage
If you would like to know what your body fat percentage is, you’re in luck! Why? There are actually a few ways to check this.
Ever heard the term pinch an inch?
That’s basically how the skinfold caliper works. You grab and lightly pinch your skin with two fingers at certain points on your body (the right side of the body is preferred) such as the abdomen, mid-thigh, biceps, chest, etc. The body fat caliper is then placed on the area and measurements are taken by how thick the skin fold is.
This is done by lowering a person into a pool of water and set into a special scale. The person would then release all of their breath, submerge and the scale takes that person’s underwater weight and compares it to their weight on land. Some fancy calculations are done and voila!
The DEXA scan is typically used to measure bone density. With that said, it can also measure how much fat is in the body by sending x-rays through the body and measuring the differences in the amounts of energy sent through the body. It’s considered the gold standard in measuring body fat.
BIA stands for Bioelectric Impedance Analysis. It works purely by witchcraft and no one understands it at all. Kidding! What really happens is that it sends a weak electrical current through the body and measures the opposition of that current.
Body Composition Scales
You can buy these at pretty much any variety store. They work the exact same way as BIA. Some say that they are not very reliable in accurately measuring.
#1 Measure Your Body Fat Percentage
Now that you know all the measurement methods, choose the one that suits you and figure out what your percentage is. Write the number down and mark the date next to it. This will be your starting point. From there you should do this about every four to six weeks.
Keeping track of this is important.
It can tell you how fast and how much your body composition is changing. This can also be quite motivating to see those numbers move.
#2 Set Your Goal
You may not get much done if you don’t know what you want to do in the first place. Set a goal. Know what you want. Write it down and get started as soon as you can.
Setting a goal can help to keep you on track. Just don’t make those goals too big. Instead, set small and short-term goals. For instance, try to lose five pounds of fat this month. That’s totally attainable. On the other hand, setting a goal of losing 30 pounds in a single month isn’t realistic and will only set you up for failure and discouragement.
#3 Get The Fat Out Of The Way First
Working on fat loss before muscle gain is the best method. Who’s to say you won’t still gain muscle as you are eating right and exercising for fat loss. With that said, you want to try to focus on one thing at a time so as not to get overwhelmed.
I know plenty of people who have shed a ton of fat through strength training and eating right, cutting greasy, junky foods from their diet and adding in some cardio. They still came out with gains in muscle so don’t worry that you’re putting muscle gains on hold. It just might not happen as fast as if you were solely focusing on a bulking diet and workout routine.
#4 Do Some HIIT
HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is downright fantastic for changing your body’s composition. If you do HIIT three days per week, you’re going to see a big difference in just a few weeks.
HIIT increases fat burning while building and maintaining lean muscle mass. The best thing about this type of workout is that it only lasts for 20 minutes. In those 20 minutes, you’re going to wish you were dead (if you do it right). I know that doesn’t sound very fun, but don’t forget that it’s only 20 minutes! Suck it up and get awesome.
One of the reasons that HIIT allows you to build muscle compared to steady state cardio is the amount of time it takes. It’s just the right amount to deplete your carbs without digging into protein stores and risking muscle waste.
As well, HIIT has an afterburn effect. This is also known as post-exercise oxygen consumption. In essence, that means that the body uses much more oxygen during the workout and then becomes depleted. Getting the body back to its normal state can take up to 24 hours, if not more. So all that energy the body uses to get back to its resting state is spent on burning fat.
#5 Realize That Muscle Doesn’t Weigh More Than Fat
This confuses some people. Let’s clarify. Muscle weighs more than fat by volume, but a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. After all, they’re both one pound. If you had a one-gallon bucket and filled it with muscle, and a one-gallon bucket filled with fat, then the bucket with muscle would way excessively more.
Muscle is very dense. The fibers are tightly woven together and it takes up a lot less space than the same weight in fat.
Fat is made up of very large and fluffy cells. It’s lighter by volume because it’s less dense. It’s like comparing a chunk of steel to a chunk of cotton. So a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. It just takes up a lot less space in the body and knowing this will be helpful as you’re gaining muscle.
#6 Switch Your Tired Routine
If you’ve been doing the exact same routine, the exact same way for months and months on end, it might be time to switch it up. Give your body a jolt! After all, your body gets used to the same old thing pretty quick and that’s when you either get slower results or hit a plateau. When this happens, switch things up a bit.
There are many ways to increase muscle size and burn more fat. You can speed up the rate of your reps, you can slow them down tremendously (seven seconds per rep is ideal for slow rep workouts) and you can even add in some new and challenging exercise. Always keep it challenging and keep advancing to get the best results.
#7 Change Your Eating Habits
Just like exercise, we can get tired of the same food day in and day out. If you’re getting bored with chicken and rice every day, find something different.
A few things you can do with your food to change body composition is to switch up your macro intake. Add more protein, more carbs, and fewer fats if you’re trying to gain muscle. If you’re trying to lose fat, then you should eat less carbs, more protein, and minimal fat.
Big changes happen when you make small adjustments. Eating a variety of foods is also a good way of introducing new beneficial bacteria to your gut.
#8 Increase The Intensity Of Your Workouts
No matter if you’re lifting heavy, lifting light, pedaling hard or walking your dog, you should make it intense.
Intensity brings much change to the body.
The reps that burn definitely are the ones that count the most. Be sure you are bringing your muscles to failure with every exercise you do. Push hard and move on to the next thing.
#9 Add BCAAs Right In The Middle Of Your Workout
We know it’s beneficial to consume BCAAs before and after the workout, but adding them during your routine can have a great effect, too.
Drinking your BCAAs during your workout can decrease fatigue and improve your mental and physical performance. This will allow you to go harder and get the most out of your workouts.
#10 Be Patient
Changing your body composition is no quick or easy feat. It takes time. People don’t gain 50 pounds overnight and they definitely can’t lose it overnight. You have to stay dedicated, work hard and eat right to get results.
Every little process that goes on in the body is complex and needs the right mix of variables to happen. Give it time and stay committed.
Making small changes can have the biggest impact on your body. Be sure you work hard at this and know that it’s definitely possible to drastically change how your body looks and feels. Work hard at your goals and don’t let anything get in your way.
By Heather Neff, CPT