Monday, August 11, 2003

Increased muscle mass will help burn fat

By Dave Patania
Personal trainer

Question: If muscle weighs more than fat, how can I gain muscle and lose weight at the same time? As an avid tennis player, how can I increase strength without decreasing flexibility?

Answer: It is true that muscle weighs more than fat, which is why body composition is so important to achieving your goals. Body composition, or the amount of body fat versus lean muscle mass that you have on your body, should be your main focus. The more lean muscle mass you can put on your body, the leaner you will get, the more efficient you will become at utilizing calories and excess body fat. Adding just one pound of lean muscle mass can garner you roughly 100 extra calories burned per day even at rest. With that in mind, it is important to gain muscle but shift your focus from losing weight to losing body fat. Don't let the scale be your only barometer for success. It is just as (if not more) important to get your body fat checked by a fitness professional or gym staff member every 6-12 weeks. This is because if you are just using the scale and lose weight you may think you are doing great when in reality you may be losing lean muscle mass instead of body fat. When you lose lean muscle mass, your body fat increases.

To gain muscle and lose fat, you must first increase the intensity/duration of your cardio workouts and your weight training by increasing the amount of weight to add more muscle mass. Keep things fresh by doing one intense, high-repetition, whole-body workout with no rest between sets per week to increase the fat utilizing capability of your body. Intense training increases the amount of mitochondria in fast-twitch muscle fibers.

More mitochondria in muscle cells stimulates the fast-twitch muscle fibers to utilize more fatty acids, thus lowering body fat.

Eating clean is very important but many people eat really well then don't train hard enough to raise the body's ability to burn fat. It is a balancing act and you must do both at effective levels to be successful. The foods you eat must be nutrient dense, high in protein, quality carbohydrates and free of junk/processed foods.

To increase strength and maintain your flexibility, be sure to stretch before and after each workout, and between sets. If you do this, you will actually increase your flexibility and give your muscles more room to contract and add mass. When people lift weights and lose flexibility it is only because they fail to stretch.


Contact personal trainer Dave Patania by e-mail:

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