While I have made it clear in one of my previous posts that I am not really looking to necessarily lose weight, its no secret that I do want to lean out and have more definition in my arms, core and legs. My overall goal is to be more compact without out bulking up. I started seriously working on leaning out in December 2018 and have made a lot of progress recently. Here are a few tips I can pass along to those that have similar goals:
No matter what you do, you cannot out work a bad eating habits and it will be impossible to lean out while not following a balanced diet. I recommend eating whole foods (fruits, vegetables and protein from animal or plant sources) in place of processed foods high in salt or sugar. While I do not completely cut out carbs that come from wheat, rice and other grains, I do limit eating them to 1 time a day while I lean out. I will do a more detailed post on how I eat in the future but I typically eat a protein and 1-2 vegetables for dinner and eat my grains earlier in the day for breakfast or lunch.
I am aware that there is a lot of buzz on social media and in magazines that building muscle via weight lifting is the best way to lose fat. To some extent, I agree that’s a good strategy. However, losing fat is really about being in a calorie deficit — if you burn more calories than you eat, your body will burn fat for fuel. Cardio is simply the better way to get into calorie deficit in a shorter amount of time. It’s hard to burn 1,300 500+ calories, like I did during my 20 min HIIT workout today doing weights for the same amount of time. Even the amount your metabolism is boosted by having extra muscle is negligible when compared to these high amounts of calories burned by cardio. If you get injured easily running and moving around too rapidly, there are so many options. Cardio does not have to be stressful or high impact– you can do it passively by walking everyday.
Incorporate Strength and Resistance Training
Although cardio is necessary for leaning out, strength and resistance training is necessary to define your physique and build muscle. Like cardio, there are so many options to chose from. You can lift traditional weights or use resistance equipment such as arm and ankle bands. I typically do resistance training like this 3-4 times a week via P.volve, which is a low impact program that that uses bands and smalls hand weights.
Try Pilates or Yoga
Not only is yoga relaxing, depending on how much you practice, yoga has the ability to increase fat loss, develop muscle tone, and build flexibility, leading to a more lean-looking physique. Pilates has a similar effect– though it is more strenuous and is considered a type of resistance training.
Optional – Fasted Workouts
Working out while fasted means that you exercise while you are on an empty stomach (please still drink water). Though there is a lot of controversy surrounding fasted workouts, I find that doing them a few times a week does help me lean out and burn more calories.
Required – Stay Consistent
Ultimately all of these tips will not really amount to much unless you are consistent. Truthfully though I started eating healthy years ago, I did not see results until I kept track of whether or not I was eating clean or doing enough physical activity. My suggestion is to keep a planner for your workouts and create a grocery list before you head to the store to buy your food.
There you have it! Four things that have helped me lean out in the past 9 months. Hope this helps!