Fundamentals of Fat Loss

By Ben Black

Ready to get ripped, but don't know where to start? There are so many different diets and training methods that promise to get you cut, but which one will work for you? A successful fat loss plan is one that suits your body type, and involves planning as well as trial and error. Therefore, this fat loss plan is merely a "First Aid Kit" that contains helpful fundamentals to get you started on that shredded six-pack.

Losing fat takes time, so you shouldn't limit yourself to nine or twelve week "cutting phases" yet, unless you are preparing for a competition. Taking longer than the usually prescribed 12 weeks will give your body a better chance to adapt to your new diet and training regimen. If this is your first time on a fat loss phase, I recommend taking anywhere from 4-6 months. Remember, getting ripped takes discipline and focus, so lets get started!

On Matters Of Dieting

Diet is just as, if not more important than exercise when it comes to getting ripped. You can train like an animal in the gym, but if your meals consist of cheeseburgers, pizza and sodas, you're probably not going to see your abs anytime soon. There are many different diets to choose from, but as a general rule of thumb, a low -moderate carb, low fat, high fiber and high protein diet works just fine.

    Carbs - Carbohydrates give you energy and fuel your intense workouts. Most of your carbohydrates should come from complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, whole grains, and vegetables.

    Fats - Fats assist in certain brain functions and are needed for hormone production. Important fat sources (monounsaturated and EFAs) can be found in olive oil, nuts and fatty fish. Supplementing with essential fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6) is also a good idea. Flax seed oil and fish oils are good sources of EFAs.

    Protein - Protein is the building block of muscle. When you train with weights, you tear down muscle. Protein helps your muscles repair themselves after a rigorous session with weights. Try to get at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight. Eat a variety of protein sources to insure you are getting the full spectrum of amino acids. In addition to protein shakes, lean steaks, chicken breasts, fish and milk are great sources.

    Fiber and Water - Have plenty of vegetables and drink plenty of water. Fiber and water are important for carrying waste out of the body. Veggies also contain powerful antioxidants, which help your body recover from workouts. Spinach, broccoli and lettuce are excellent sources of fiber.

Everyone Hates Cardio, But...

Unless your metabolism is off the chart and you stay lean very easily, cardio is necessary to burn off extra calories. The key to making cardio work for you is to gradually phase it into your lifestyle. Many bodybuilders jump into five 45-minute sessions twice a day. As a result, they burn too much muscle and drop too much weight. Start with three 30min sessions weekly and gradually increase the frequency and duration. You only need to perform cardio at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate to be in your fat burning zone. To determine this number, take 220 minus your age, and then take 60-70% of that number.

You have to keep your heart rate at this level for more than 20mins before your body switches from burning glycogen (stored sugar) to burning stored fat.

Varying the type of cardio you do will also help eliminate boredom. For example, 20 mins on the stationary bike, 20 mins on an elliptical running machine, and the last 20 mins on a treadmill will help keep the activity fresh. Bring a magazine, working out with a friend; watch TV or listening to some music will also help pass the time. Even better, place and inspirational note or picture in front of you to keep you motivated throughout the session. Post a picture of a popular bodybuilder or fitness model whose physique you admire, on your treadmill, and use it as motivation for your workouts.

Resistance Training

Resistance training builds lean muscle tissue. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn when you are resting. In addition, weight training is the only way to shape your body. When beginning a fat loss phase, a good idea is to reduce the frequency of training sessions. This is because your body's energy supplies will already be depleted from the calorie reduction and extra cardio sessions.

Having said that, continue to train heavy. You may not be able to do as many sets, but keep the poundage up to preserve your hard earned muscle. At the same time, don't overdo it. The goal during a cutting phase is to preserve your hard earned muscle, not gain additional mass. It may also be helpful to increase the rest time between sets, because your energy supplies are may be lessened from the dieting and cardio.

A Sample Workout Schedule Would Be:

    Monday: Chest/Back
    Tuesday: Cardio
    Wednesday: Shoulders/Arms
    Thursday: Cardio
    Friday: Legs/Abs
    Saturday: Cardio
    Sunday: Rest

The Last Word

Combine these three elements (diet, cardio and resistance training) and you have a three-pronged attack on fat worthy of six-pack abs. If this is your first time on a cutting phase, give yourself extra time to get adjusted to the new lifestyle. Take notes, record your training sessions, meals, and the way you feel each day. Then by trial and error, formulate a plan that works just for you.

Give yourself time! It is very rare to be able to dial it in the first time you try. The reason why many competitive bodybuilders can get shredded in a matter of weeks is because they've gone on cutting cycles many times before. They already know what works for them and how their body responds to different diets.

Finally, never give up, no matter how long it takes. If you cheat and slack off, get back on track right away and try again. The power to succeed is all in the mind. Perseverance and self-discipline are the keys to fat loss success, not fancy supplements or fad diets. Changing your physique into a work of art begins with the decisions you make each and every day - passing on that chocolate cake, toughing it out on the treadmill, and fighting through that last rep are examples of the little things which add up to a lot. Refuse to live with a mediocre physique. Now... time to get ripped!

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