My whole fitness craze started with the occasional jog on Saturday with friends. Then it got serious.
My boy decided to compete in a body building competition and was put on a strict diet and exercise regime.
I was pissed.
Not because of the time and money he now had to spend to look better than me, but because I had to get off my own ass and take a good hard look at my own diet and body. Sure, I was happy being skinny, but I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be.
So what is skinny fat?
Basically, it means that even though a person may appear skinny, they actually have a high percentage of body fat vs. muscle ratio.
This point was painfully proven at the beginning of the year when I was smugly gloating to a guy friend that I didn’t have to exercise and still be thin. He lifted my right arm and told me to tense. Puzzled, I followed his instructions. He then proceeded to wobble the loose fatty skin under my biceps, while chanting “Bingo arms” at the top of his voice.
Needless to say, that was the pivotal moment when I realized that I had to do something otherwise I was doomed to have flabby arms forever!
It’s simple, if it jiggles, it’s fat
– Arnold Schwarzenegger
Best summary of what transpired…I couldn’t have said it better myself Arnie.
What’s the first thing people do when they want to lose weight? They start pounding the sidewalk or join Zumba. Sure, that’s a fantastic way to burn calories and if you follow up with a calorie deficient diet you can lose weight quickly.
What they don’t tell you is that if you want to lose weight and look toned and tight, then you need to also start doing resistance/strength training to build muscle.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
I began in July with 20 to 40 minute jogs on the treadmill. Burn more calories and eat less, can’t go wrong right?
But there’s a quicker and more efficient way to burn calories- it’s called high intensity interval training (HIIT). It’s a bitch of a cardio fix, but you’ll feel a million bucks after a session. Not only does it give a massive endorphin kick (ie. natural happy drugs), HIIT uses your muscles vigorously enough to force an anaerobic state meaning that you can build and tone muscle while you huff and puff.
How it works is instead of doing a steady pace for the work out duration, you simply change it up and sprint for a period of time before reducing back to a jog. My preference is to do 20-25 minutes, where I jog at 8mph for a minute before sprinting 14-16mph (mixing it up) for a minute, then drop back down to a jog.
The beauty of HIIT is not just the calories you burn during your exercise, but the after-burn effect goes on long after you’ve packed up your gym bag. Because it’s a form of anaerobic exercise, your body will be repairing after this work out and subsequently speed up your metabolism.
Most PTs recommend that you don’t do HIIT more than 3-4 times a week, otherwise you’ll be putting the body through more stress than it needs to. But then again, it’ll all depend on your fitness level and enthusiasm. Typically, I used to do on average 4 x 20 minute sessions a week but now I’ve dropped it down to 2-3.
Want more scientific information on HIIT? Here’s a couple of sites that explain the concept:
– The Advantages of HIIT Training Versus Steady State Cardio
– What is HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training – And How Should You Use It?
One thing I really enjoy and use to mix up my cardio sessions is boxing. It’s such an effective exercise because not only do you get the intense cardio work out for your whole body, it helps tone and strengthen muscle as well. Of course, it depends on how hard and fast you hit, but what an awesome way to beat the living shit out of something as a stress reliever and look sexier for it!
Another variation of boxing is out there, but not as widely available or publicized. Called Boxercising, it’s a hybrid version of boxing that’s part circuit where you do sit-ups, planks and other core strengthen activities between punches and kicks with a partner.
There are many classes available in and around Melbourne and most require little to no technique. As you get more confident and learn how to hit properly, the harder you can go. Most classes I’ve been to have been full of girls, so don’t be intimated and go for a hit up. I did 1 to 2 sessions a week (about an hour each) and tried to go for kickboxing classes to work both upper and lower body.
Full body circuits
My first foray into weight training was a mixture of weights in a circuit configuration. The issue I had with pure weight training was that although my muscles were screaming for relief at the end of each session, I still felt like I hadn’t sweated enough to justify washing my hair.
I got a basic routine from Google that included burpees, deadlifts and turkish gets. The pattern looks like this:
Burpees 10 (reps), Deadlifts 10, Turkish Gets 10
Burpees 9, Deadlifts 9, Turkish Gets 9
Burpees 8, Deadlifts 8, Turkish Gets 8
Burpees 7, Deadlifts 7, Turkish Gets 7
– Keep repeating each set until you get down to 0
– For an extra challenge, do a plank for 1 minute between sets
Start with lighter weights and keep working your way up to keep challenging your muscles. There’s heaps of full body exercises available, but aim to pick exercises that hit the following elements to get a complete full body work out: push, pull, lift, twist and jump.
This list (combined with a clean diet) helped me budge some of the stubborn fat around my stomach, upper arms and thighs. Most weeks, I’d hit the gym twice a day- once in the morning to do either a full body work out or weights and at night I’d do cardio for an hour. I’d have 1 or 2 rest days a week from weights. This didn’t do any crazy sculpting but it did tone for a softer look (ie. bikini model look instead of “sports” model look).
If you have any feedback or questions, I’ll do my best to answer or find out. I’ll be back with my diet during the 3 months soon…trust me, it’s not full of salads and celery!
- From Distance Running to HIIT Training (lovetheleap.com)
- Greatest HIIT – The Ultimate Fat-Blasting Cardio Solution (leanonlife.com)
- BYO fast food: easy peasy food for people on the go (skinnyfatsky.com)
- 3 Month Lean Up (The Fuel): Why I Decided to Eat Smart (skinnyfatsky.com)