Thursday, August 19, 2010

Can you be fat and fit?

In a word, yes. 
  • Research from the Harvard School of Public Health in roughly 100,000 people shows pretty much what one would expect about the population: lots of people are both heavy and unfit; far fewer are thin and unfit; some are both lean and fit; and only a very small number indeed are heavy, but fit. Possible, yes, but exception rather than rule, and for the most obvious of reasons: generally people who become and stay fit are attentive to their health, and a focus on health may be the best bet there is for lasting weight control. 
One-minute weight loss secrets
  • But the exceptions to the rule are worth noting- particularly if you- like my friend Dr. Steven Blair, Director of Research at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, TX, are one of them! Some people are, indeed, fit and healthy- while their body remains defiantly heavy. There are others who simply have excess body fat in places where it does no real harm- notably in the hips, buttocks, and thighs- as opposed to around the middle, where fat is most dangerous. Such people may be “metabolically lean,” even if the eyeball test suggests they are heavy.
  • And the opposite can be true; some people who look thin may be unfit, and may also have an excess of fat around the middle which can place them at high risk for chronic disease. These people are the “lean obese,” looking lean, but having the metabolic profile of the overweight. There is increasing recognition that waist circumference more reliably captures the health risks of body fat than the prevailing body-mass index (BMI).
Secrets of naturally slim women
  • Lastly, there may even be an exception not only to the rule that fat and fit tend to go their separate ways, but to what would seem the obvious issue of which comes first. While we might tend to think that lack of exercise leads to weight gain, a recent study among children in England (3) suggests (but doesn’t prove) that weight gain may lead to less exercise.
  • When all is said and done, maintaining fitness and avoiding fatness matter to the health of most people (4). But you don’t choose what to weigh- you just choose how to take care of yourself. So choose wisely- take good care- and let weigh what may.

Train for your body shape

Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes.

Which one are you - tall or short, squat or not, pear or apple or pumpkin? And just like you don’t squeeze a pear to get apple juice, you don’t train a “tall-ey” the same as a “short-y”. 

Below are the 3 most common body shapes and how to train them:
1. Short and Squat with a rounded bottom (aka – the cumquat, the pear, the mandarin) 
  • If you can vote, but can’t ride on the rollercoaster at Dreamworld cause you haven't hit the height restriction, then you are not very tall... agreed?
  • In my time as a trainer, I’d say that 20% of clients have fallen into this category. And once they understood that no matter how many lunges they did, their legs weren’t going to get any longer, we got some real good training done.
  • With these guys and girls my aim is get them doing resistance training but with higher repeititions - 20 plus. How muscle grows is by lifting heavy and if your thigh bone is not much longer than your arm bone, then extra muscle will make you look like a Eastern Bloc powerlifter. 
  • So high reps ahoy and go for exercises that have a big range of motion... walking lunges, side lunges and step ups are your key for your wheels, while lat pulldowns and rows go good for up top. Not too much chest/shoulder work, cause it can make the area look more prop forward than princess.
  • And cardio - do as the Kenyans do and go long! Nice and slow, keep your body burning fat not sugar and you’ll start to look lither, lengthier and elongated.
Training do’s:
  • Higher reps/big movements
  • Steady state cardio… long, slow distance is great
  • Keep an eye on sugar and overall caloric intake.
2. Tall and thin with the accent on slim (aka the Kidman, the Bean pole, the Drink of Water)
  • Those with long length of bone have a different set of rules to follow. If you only see eye to eye with NBA players then training your body with resistance is all about working with your lever lengths. 
  • From past experience tall folk have trouble adding a little muscle to their frame. Quite often there can be a lot of instability around joints and that makes it tricky to get the right balance between training hard and training smart.
  • Slow and steady gains are the way to go, working with controlled movements. Still, stick with the favourites, like squats to build some junk in the trunk and planks to strengthen the core muscles, and have a good look at your diet to make sure you're eating enough and your body ain't eating itself.
  • As for cardio for fat loss, well my architectural friend... if you're wearing a size 6 from the kid's range and can grate parmesan cheese on your spine then maybe you can miss that spin class. 
Training do’s:
  • Build VMO strength (muscle around knee)
  • Increase stability around shoulder
  • Work with control… slowly does it.
3. Not Tall, not short, not fat, not thin (aka The Jane Doe, The Sally Average, The Girl Next Door)
  • Hey, excuse me for making it seem droll, because being average is awesome! You can get shoes at sales, fly economy in comfort and not piss people off when you sit in front of them at the movies. It also means that you can pretty much go for broke with your training, depending on past injuries and what not.
  • With a green light to train resistance hard 'n' heavy and permission to pound the cardio trail with purpose, this is the category where most of my clients live, and the body shape that experiences the most consistent results.
  • Having said that, this is also the group that tend to know what to do, but don't do it. Because they've never really had a problem buying clothes and they fall into the "healthy" BMI and weight ranges, they run the gauntlet of no exercise and bad eating until BAM!... they're 40 and things change!
  • Then they come see me to try and right the wrongs of a lifetime in 8 weeks. Seriously, for not much time invested you "people of the average" can have bodies that work and look good. For a little bit more effort, then the rewards are expediential. 
Training do’s:
  • Train with resistance… your body will thrive!
  • Embark on a great stretch program to keep limber and ward off injuries
  • Set a goal, find an event and do whatever it takes to keep you training 
Exercise works for every body. The benefits are indisputable There are lots of other shapes and sizes that make this world go round, so please share more ideas on what suits your style.

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