HOW MUCH EXERCISE DO YOU NEED TO TRANSFORM YOUR BODY?
The amount of exercise you need to do to transform your body depends mainly on 6 things:
- STARTING POINT
- TRAINING TYPE
What are your specific goals?
Lose body fat?
Sculpt a competition ready physique?
Get ready for a special event or vacation ?
What is your timeframe?
With a clear cut goal and a good reason, you’re more likely to commit to any kind of plan.
The more significant the body transformation you want to make, and the faster you want to see that transformation, the more intense and frequent your workouts will need to be. A typical 12-week body transformation requires 4-6 x 45-60 minute weight-training sessions per week. Additional cardio exercise of about 30 minutes per session is usually required.
If you are willing to go at a slower, more gradual pace, then you can get amazing results over 6-18 months with 3-4 focussed workouts per week. It’s essential to progressively increase your work output. This kind of gradual approach is more sustainable. The transformation will be slower but you will be more likely to keep those results. The faster, more drastic approach is rewarding and exciting. However, the life-adjustments are often so overwhelming, that you burn out after a few weeks or months.
- Are you brand new to exercise? Switching training phases? Returning to working out after a break, such as a pregnancy, illness, injury or a quarantine?
- Are you already training consistently or have in the past 6 months?
If yes to the latter, then you’ll have a fairly good foundation and muscle memory that your body can easily access. It will be easier for you, than for a complete beginner to increase your workout intensity. You will already be familiar with the muscle soreness that comes from starting a new program. With a few simple nutritional adjustments, you’ll start seeing some changes with 3- 5 days per week of training, depending on your timeframe and goals.
If you are brand new to exercise then it can go a variety of ways depending on your level of commitment, discipline and your existing nutritional habits. If commitment level is low and you struggle to change your habits, fail to complete at least 3 workouts per week and are inconsistent, then the results will be slow and visible improvement will be almost non-existant. It’s still possible to get fitter and stronger while being inconsistent but a transformation takes dedication.
A newbie who jumps straight in to being consistent can get extremely fast results. More commonly, the first month is more of a learning process. Sometimes the work output is not enough to burn body fat or make visible change unless the nutrition is perfect. It’s almost as if you have to become fit and strong enough to be able to get to a point where the work output is enough to see changes. A good way to monitor that is to use a heart-rate device or activity tracker and be aware of the daily output required to achieve the goals you desire.
Genes and your body type play a role. Bodies respond differently to exercise. Some people respond well to long duration cardiovascular exercise. They may get their desired results by taking up distance running or regular spin classes. Others are better suited to weight-training and higher intensity workouts like interval sprints and boxing. There are body types that really hold on to more fat than others. In some cases it could be necessary to identify a particular type of food, substance or hormonal imbalance causing this. Certain individuals are better able to process sugars or alcohol and great results can be achieved by eliminating those completely. Stressful lifestyle factors such as sleep deprivation and over-work can exacerbate fat storage due to increased cortisol levels.
This refers to the rate at which you burn calories. Typically if you burn more calories than you consume each day, then you will lose body fat and potentially muscle, depending your macros. Another factor is whether or not your resistance training is intense enough to stimulate muscle hypertrophy.
Muscle weighs more than fat. If your training program and macronutrient profile is optimal, you can gain weight and still be lowering your body fat percentage or remain at the same weight while losing significant body fat. This is why the term ‘transformation’ rather than ‘weight-loss’ is preferred here. The obsession with a particular number on the scale can be a hindrance and often convinces people they are not getting results when they actually are.
Your daily metabolism is not only affected by your genetics and your workouts, but also your daily activity. If you are sedentary for many hours in a day, you may have to workout more frequently than someone who has a physically active job.
Your commuting method can be impactful. Riding a bike or walking to work or on errands can greatly increase your daily expenditure eating you’d require fewer workouts than someone who commutes by car daily.
High intensity training with a combination of weights and cardio will yield the best results generally. Your program needs to be progressive. If you are training to transform your body then the workouts need to become more challenging on a week by week basis. The body adapts, so you need to switch things up very 6 weeks or so. The workouts never get easier but you keep getting better.
One of the biggest factors affecting the amount of exercise required, is nutrition quality. The more precise your diet is, the faster you will see results, and the more dramatic those results will be. If it is poor, then no amount of working out will get you where you want to be.
Very often people are unwilling to accept the importance of optimal nutrition. People are often very protective of certain (bad) habits. Some, prefer to exercise more, in the hope that they can continue to eat whatever they want and consume alcohol more than once per week.
For beginners, the fitness level may allow for significant energy to be burned during workouts, to offset the calories consumed during the day or week.
For building muscle it’s essential to consume enough protein to maintain, repair and build muscle. Whatever you do with your calories, protein intake should remain fairly constant according to the amount of lean mass you have. If you’re looking to burn body fat, then you will need to consume less calories than you burn in a day, and this should come mostly from fat and carbohydrates. The trend for the past 10 to 15 years has been various forms of low carb dieting. This can work very well for rapid weight loss. However, people are fooled by the drop in water-weight that occurs when the muscle cells are depleted of glycogen.
If you keep your carbohydrate level a bit higher and reduce dietary fat instead, you will have more energy for intense workouts.You will be able to demonstrate greater work output and feel much better in general. Weight-loss may appear to be slower, but you’ll actually be burning fat rather than losing water and muscle volume as a result.