Burn Baby Burn
How to Rev Your Metabolism
by Michael Stefano
"Where there's a will, there's a way."
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You hear the word metabolism thrown around every gym locker room and weight watchers meeting, but what is it?
Metabolism is the biochemical modification of substances in every living organism, usually consisting sequences of steps called metabolic pathways. Low calorie dieting slows your metabolism, making it progressively difficult to lose weight and keep it off. Dieting fails because of a combination of hormonal changes, muscle loss, and repeated frustration.
If you persist with your self-imposed famine, you'll begin to break down muscle tissue for fuel. Ironically, when protein (muscle) is broken down, there's an immediate reduction in water weight, but this initial water weight-loss will be quickly regained as soon as you quench your thirst.
On the other hand, muscle is a calorically active tissue, as it requires a certain number of calories just to maintain itself. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn - period, even while at total rest. It logically follows that if you gain muscle, your daily caloric requirement will skyrocket.
Besides, not too many people can stick with a 1200 calorie-a-day diet for very long, and eventually you'll return to your old eating habits. Watch out when you do, because the weight, in the form of fat (say good-bye to any lost muscle unless you workout) will come rushing back. But I promise, there is a solution.
Two words, more muscle.
Before you run out and score some steroids, let's take a look at how the average person, at just about any age, can sensibly acquire some lean muscle mass, and avoid the grind of low calorie diets with endless cardio, and still lose weight.
DON'T RESIST RESISTANCE
How many diets have you been on? Do you look and feel any better as a result? That can all change with a simple, but well orchestrated approach.
The number one thing you can do for you body is allow it to work against a challenging level of resistance by employing a variety of exercises that simultaneously engage as much muscle as possible. If performed on a regular basis (2 to 6 times per week), the results can be life-changing.
Within the framework of anywhere from 5 or 10 specific, functional and full body exercises, you can compile a program that will build real-life fitness. Exercises like the overhead press, push-ups, dead-lifts, and squats (and there machine variations), if performed in a certain fashion will dramatically change the way you look and feel in a rather short period of time (1 to 3 months). The training of both strength and endurance systems together is probably what's responsible for the exceptionally high and long-term metabolic cost, and its simultaneous ability to sculpt your body.
DYNAMIC RESISTANCE DRILLS
Stop either drill at any time you hit extreme fatigue, DO NOT WORK TO MUSCLE FAILURE, regardless of overall sets. Be flexible and change parameters (starting weight, reps, rest, number sets, etc.) often to keep your muscles guessing.
PUSH-UP ENDURANCE LADDER
You may substitute with the modified push-up, bench press, chest press, or standing shoulder press (see text for full exercise directions and illustrations)
Start with any number of reps you can handle at VERY LOW muscle fatigue. You should rest anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets.
Set 1: 10 reps (rest 30sec to 1min)
Set 2: 12 reps (rest 30sec to 1min)
Set 3: 14 reps (rest 30sec to 1min)
Set 4: 16 reps (rest 30sec to 1min)
Set 5: 18 reps (rest 30sec to 1min)
Set 6: 16 reps (rest 30sec to 1min)
Set 7: 20 reps (rest 30sec to 1min)
GO BACK TO ORIGINAL REPS AND REPEAT CYCLE (advanced only)
SQUAT STRENGTH LADDER
You may substitute with the dead-lift, lunge, step-up, leg press, or half squat (see text for full exercise directions and illustrations)
Start with a resistance you can handle at VERY LOW muscle fatigue for 6 to 8 reps. Add 5 to 10 percent or the lowest amount possible over 10 percent. Rest anywhere from 1 minute to 2 full minutes between sets.
Set 1: 8 reps with start weight (may be 0 / rest 1 to 2min)
Set 2: 8 reps (add weight, rest 1 to 2min)
Set 3: 8 reps (add weight, rest 1 to 2min)
Set 4: 8 reps (add weight, rest 1 to 2min)
Set 5: 8 reps (add weight, rest 1 to 2min)
Set 6: 8 reps (add weight, rest 1 to 2min)
Set 7: 8 reps (add weight, rest 1 to 2min)
GO BACK TO ORIGINAL REPS AND REPEAT CYCLE (advanced only)
Get physicians's approval before starting any new exercise program. These drills are designed to rev up your overall metabolism and should not be performed more than two or three times each week. For more fat-burning, metabolism revving drills, get on Captain Mike's Custom Workout.
EAT SENSIBLY, BUT OFTEN
Starvation doesn't work, ever! That's not to say you can eat whatever you want. Moderation, portion control, and the elimination of unwanted calories in the form of fried, processed, sugar-laden foods, as well as liquid calories, can cut overall caloric intake in half, while you still get to eat the same volume of food.
Stick with 2 or 3 healthful meals AND 2 or 3 healthful snacks spaced evenly throughout every day. It might help to keep a food diary of what you're currently eating (make no changes) and work on improving upon that. This process can be a real eye-opener, as well as allowing you to make very accurate caloric adjustments. Creating a deficit of 250 to 500 calories per day, will allow you to keep, and even build, muscle while your body fat melts away. Mike also offers expert nutritional guidelines with his Custom Fitness and Weight Loss Program.
MICHAEL STEFANO is the creator and author of the Firefighter's Workout (Harper Collins 2000). Mr. Stefano is a health and fitness writer, contributor to eDiets, eFitness, and Firehouse.Com. Michael's articles have appeared on AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! His workouts have been featured in magazine and newspapers from around the country, as well as in numerous network and cable TV segments. He also offers an online version of his custom program, via a comprehensive 22-point fitness profile form.
"My program is a no-nonsense approach to exercise and weight loss that will not only get you fit, but will also fit into your life". -MS
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