• Is full range of motion (ROM) and less weight, or limited range of motion and more weight better when building muscle?

    Generally speaking, it is accepted that it is more effective to move through the full range of motion and get less reps using less weight, than to limit your ROM and move more weight and/or more reps. This is the general premise behind most standardised resistance training. Having said that, there are many effective training techniques that employ methods that limit the range of motion (ROM).

    The rationale behind this form of resistance training is to bring the muscles being worked from a full stretch to a full contraction (or, as much as is allowed in a particular motion). A good example is a bicep curl. When your arm is straight, your bicep is fully stretched. When you reduce the angle at the elbow as much as possible, the bicep is fully contracted. Therefore, you should go from a straight arm to a full contraction. Basically, this is full range of motion (ROM). The same can be demonstrated with any weight training exercise.

    Of course, there are many, many exceptions to the rule particularly if you:

    • Are training for a specific reason
    • Have an injury
    • Have a goal that is more strength focussed
    • Are trying to break through a plateau
    • etc.
  • Can muscle turn into fat? Can fat turn into muscle?

    In short, no. Muscle tissue is completely different from fat tissue and therefore it is impossible to convert one into the other.

    It is a very common misconception within the fitness industry that muscle can be turned into fat, or conversely, fat can be turned into muscle. You may have heard someone say that they are toning up by "turning their fat into muscle". Alternatively, you may have heard comments that when an athlete ceases to train, their muscle turns into fat. Both of these scenario's are completely inaccurate.

    Let's take a brief look at fat and skeletal muscle tissues:

    Fat tissue, or adipose tissue, is primarily a storage tissue in adults. It's there as a survival mechanism for us just in case we are unable to eat. Glucose sugars are taken up from the blood stream and converted into triglycerides that are stored within the fat cell.

    Muscle tissue is primarily required to generate force in one way or another. This may be to generate a heart beat, breath out, or to lift something. Skeletal muscle tissue is comprised of a series of fibres that run from one point to another and is connected to bones via connective tissues.

    Of course, both forms of tissue have many other functions within the human body, but this is just a brief overview.

    As you can see, fat and muscle have completely different functions. Not surprisingly, they also have completely different structures under a microscope. In fact, they almost look as similar as a wooden chair and a porcupine!

    So with all this said and done, how on Earth could the misconception that "muscle turns into fat", or "fat turns into muscle" arise?

    Well, let's take the two scenario's above:

    Someone loses weight and tones up. Through exercise and nutrition, this person has managed to re-shape their body. But instead of turning their fat into muscle, what they managed to do is reduce the amount of fat they carry and increase the amount of muscle in their body. Thus, you can see how easy it is to misconceive this as "turning fat into muscle", when they have in fact lost fat and gained muscle.

    An ex-athlete who used to be muscular, but gains weight after they cease training. This is a very common situation and can often turn people off the thought of weight training altogether. What often happens here is that the athlete is used to exercising for a number of hours each day. As a result, they expend a lot of calories and thus have to eat a lot of calories in order to fuel their bodies. As soon as they stop training, the amount of activity that they perform each day drops significantly. Therefore, they expend far less calories. But, if they do not modify your diet to accommodate for the lesser caloric expenditure, they will gain a substantial amount of fat tissue. With the decreased training frequency, their muscles will deteriorate from lack of use. Ultimately, they lose muscle mass and gain fat mass because of the changes in their lifestyle. Contrary to popular belief, muscle is not converted into fat.

    Hopefully this clears up this very common misconception. If you are interested in learning more about weight loss, weight gain, nutrition and exercise, I highly recommend that you read our course entitled "Introduction to Physical Freedom".

  • Will HIIT cardio reduce testosterone levels and thus reduce my muscle gains? I want to lose weight, but I don't want to sacrifice muscle mass. Is this different for males and females?

    HIIT has many benefits:

    1. Enhances fitness
    2. Significantly increases fat loss relative to steady state cardio
    3. Improves mental focus
    4. Can enhance muscle gain

    Whilst excessive HIIT training can significantly inhibit testosterone levels, resulting in overtraining, if you receive sufficient recovery from each session, the effect will be negligible. The HIIT workout itself can actually help in the secretion of anabolic hormones to boost the rate at which hypertrophy is experienced.

    Testosterone levels will primarily be improved through:

    1. Sufficient recovery
    2. High intensity heavy weight training
    3. Sound nutrition

    If you have all of these aspects in check, the incorporation of HIIT for fat loss will not significantly impact your muscle maintenance (or gains) by any great degree.  Keep in mind that if you reduce your caloric overload (or increase your caloric deficit), the rate of hypertrophy will most likely drop.

    Now the main difference between females and males with respect to muscle gain is testosterone, something that is required for muscle synthesis. Females obviously have far lower levels.  The good news for females is that cardiovascular training has no where near the potentially detrimental effect that it does on males with regards to testosterone levels. It is much easier for a male to overdo the cardio and thus see a reduction in testosterone levels.

  • How do you lose weight and build muscle at the same time?

    Not an easy task to accomplish - muscle gain and fat loss within a period of time does require attention to detail.  Some key issues that require attention include:

    • Correct nutrition
    • An optimal approach to training (high intensity, appropriate balance between resistance training and cardiovascular training)
    • Adequate recovery

    With your nutrition, you do need to focus on feeding your body the nutrients it requires throughout the day and importantly, immediately after a workout.  This allows your body to repair itself from the physical stress it must endure during a workout.

    Training is also very important.  Exercise provides the stimulus for a fitness response and hypertrophy (or muscle building).  It can also stimulate your body to burn fat far more effectively than if you were to rest.  You therefore need to undertake an effective training schedule where you consistently see improvements over a period of time.

    Recovery is also extremely important.  Whilst nutrition is vital in aiding your body to repair itself, sleep, active and passive rest is also just as important.  Of course, there are many other facets to recovery though, such as a massage that may improve your bodies ability to recuperate.

    I recommend that you read up on the course that we have available on Amino Z: Introduction to Physical Freedom

    Also if you are seeking advice tailored to your specific situation, please consider our award winning personal training services.

  • I'm an ectomorph with a fast metabolism and can't build muscle mass! Is there a way of countering this? Great site by the way!

    It is true that many people have relatively fast metabolisms and struggle to build muscle mass.  We are all born with a particular set of genetics that will either encourage or discourage a particular change to our physique.

    Some typical traits of a person with a phenotype of an ectomorph is to have:

    • a very fast metabolism
    • small wrists and ankles
    • struggle in gaining muscle mass and also fat mass.

    Naturally ectomorphs are quite skinny as a result.  It is quite unnatural for an ectomorph to be large in girth measurements.  Therefore for an ectomorph seeking to build muscle mass, it is absolutely imperative that a structured training and nutritional plan is set in place in order to allow maximal results.

    A calorie overload is required in order to ensure that your body has maximal nutrients available in order to initiate the muscle building process.  Additionally, the correct muscle building stimulus must be induced via a high intensity training program.

    I encourage you to read up on the numerous articles available on the website.  Two of particular interest to an ectomorph would be:

    HARDGAINERS – Put an end to that skinny body NOW!
    Lose The "HARDGAINER" Mentality!

    The two other major phenotypes are mesomorph (build muscle and lose fat relatively easily) and an endomorph (build muscle and gain fat relatively easily).  Typically people are not one or the other, but often a mixture of two.

    If you are serious about getting results, I highly recommend that you consider my online personal training services in order to achieve maximal results through a structured and scientifically sound program.

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