The Best Way to Get Lean

Most of us are chasing “the look” when we workout. You know – sleek, powerful, and athletic. How we go about it though causes a lot of confusion. Most people just jump on a treadmill and being slogging away with the hopes that their fit and “toned” appearance will simply occur through the magic of walking. I’m here to save you from endless hours of being bored out of your mind. Leave that dusty treadmill in the basement because I’m about to explain to you the best way to get lean.

Lean here is the key word. Again, the term weight loss can cause a misperception because everyone’s idea of weight loss is unique. So by saying lean, we’re talking about dropping bodyfat and possibly even building a bit of muscle along the way.

As a personal trainer, my concern is always my client’s ability to do work. So while the goal is to drop bodyfat, you also want your body to perform well. Slow, long distance jogging does help burn calories, but it doesn’t carry over to other activities. What’s the sense in losing weight if you’re not any stronger or faster with that new body of yours? Those long walks also make you more efficient – meaning that you burn less energy each time you lace up your running shoes. There’s also potential to lose muscle mass in the process, which isn’t going to do anything for your physique.

Getting lean is all about developing insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that is activated when you eat food. Its job is to carry nutrients into the cells of your body. So protein gets stored in your muscle cells. What happens through poor diet and bad exercise selection (or no exercise at all) is what we call insulin resistance. So now your cells could care less about insulin, and as a result, all the food you eat can get stored around your waistline  as bodyfat. This is what happens to a diabetic. You don’t want that.

One of the best ways to enhance insulin sensitivity – and in turn getting lean- is through the use of power exercises. Power training is all about doing a great deal of work in a short amount of time. We’re trying to work on explosiveness and simply trying to do things quick. Think about throwing medicine balls, jumps, and swinging a kettlebell.  This type of work causes your body to burn a ton of energy long after the exercise sessions is over. Now your cells in your muscles act like a sponge to gobble up nutrients.

At Upper Echelon we work on client’s power endurance. In an attempt to strip the body of fat we’re also trying to make our clients into athletes. That’s how you get that sleek and strong appearance. But you’re also able to do more work. Now you look like a superhero to your three year old as you play in the backyard. Or maybe you need to quickly hop a fence because your neighbor’s crazy dog is off leash (let’s hope you never have to experience this). Regardless of the situation, you’re definitely “all show and go.”

For advanced clients, we’ll do Olympic lift variations with agility and kettlebell work. A workout might look like this:

A1. Mid Hang Clean x 5 (with 35-50% of 1RM)

A2. Power Jerk x 5

A3. Medicine Ball Throw plus Chase x 30 seconds (so toss a heavy medicine ball and sprint after it). Rest 60-120 seconds

 

Maybe you can’t do Olympic lifts. That’s fine. Here’s a circuit we do with “beginners” to this form of training:

A1. Medicine Ball Squat x 6

A2. Medicine Ball Slam x 6

A3. Medicine Ball Rotary Pass x 6 (per side)

A4. Medicine Ball Scoop Pass x 6 (through the legs)

The medicine ball workout look easy on paper but in the real word it will cause you to sweat buckets. So stay off that treadmill, start getting your athlete on and you’ll be shocked at the results you achieve.

 

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