What type of training is best for you and your goals?
Article I: Training for Aesthetics
Which type of training is best?
You're finally ready to hit the gym but you're not sure which type of training is best to achieve your aesthetic goals? This is a commonly asked question and with the new year closing in, I thought it would be good to go over in my 1st article.
You first have to decide on what body type you are aiming for. Athletic? Fitness model? Physique competitor? Classic bodybuilder like Frank Zane or Steve Reeves? (Born after 1990? Google those names) or a modern day bodybuilder like 5 time Mr. OlympiaPhil Heath or Mr. Olympia runner up Kai Green? While all the physique types above can utilize some of the same types or methods of training it is best to train for specific goals with the most optimal method to achieve the desired goal.
If it's the athletic look you're after then training like an athlete is what you need to do. Cross training is the ticket for you. Fitness models can and often do use this type of training as well. You'll strength train with weights 2-3 days a week, conditioning work like body weight exercises & Plyometrics 2-3 days per week and speed & agility work like sprints and change direction drills are often added in. The training types can overlap. Playing sports like basketball, soccer, volleyball, and swimming isn't a bad idea either.
Training for a physique competition is generally going to be done inside a gym with weights. Split training or full body or combination of the two(upper body one day/lower body the next) However, I've trained guys and gals using "functional" training methods and apparatuses with very good results. Body weight exercises, using the TRX suspension trainer, ab wheels, sand bags, medicine balls and warrior ropes are great ways to add resistance to traditional exercises to build more muscle mass. The training is generally done in a circuit where you go from one exercise to the next without resting. And full body is usually trained unlike most bodybuilders who do split training.
Classic bodybuilders, generally considered a more aesthetically pleasing look than todays bodybuilders but they both train pretty much the same. The biggest differences are in supplementation and food intake. Split training or focusing on one or two body parts per training session is most common. Then you can go with high volume or high intensity/low volume. High volume I've found to be best for newbies needing to build a foundation and those that are injury prone and older clients as it's less stressful on the joints, tendons and ligaments. Weight is still heavy but you're not going for all out failure and total annihilation of muscles trained like with HITT.
Volume training is generally 4-5 sets per exercise, 5 or more exercises per body part and from 8-20 reps per set depending on goals at time and body part being trained. Super sets(2 exercises back to back without rest) and giant sets(3 or more exercises back to back without rest) can be utilized with high volume. They can be exercises for same muscle/muscle group(more commonly used) such as doing a Lat pull down followed by seated rows or exercises that work opposite muscles/muscle groups such as bicep curls followed by v-bar tricep extensions. German volume training is a popular method of volume training designed to increase strength and muscle endurance as well as building muscle.
When doing high intensity training you are doing only 2-3 sets per exercise and usually only one of those is working set with the others just being warm ups. During the working sets once you've reached the point of failure(can't perform another rep on your own) then forced reps, rest pause and drop sets are generally used to reach "true" failure(complete exhaustion of the muscle being trained) Push/Pull type programs are a form of HITT. Generally putting all muscles/muscle groups that "pull" together and those that "push" together on separate days. For example, "pull" day would put back,hamstrings, biceps, forearms together while "push" day would put chest, quads, shoulders, triceps, calves together. Push/pull can also be a upper body "push" day followed by a upperbody "pull" day then lower "push" and "pull" day together. "Dog Crap" designed by Dante Trudel is a very popular HITT push/pull method of training.
Optimizing fat loss
Now that you have an idea what type of training is needed to obtain your desired physique we need to talk about conditioning for increased fat loss without losing too much muscle. The bestway to do this in my opinion is through HITTand interval cardio. Many often mistake them as being the same thing but that's not accurate. HITT, when done correctly, is anaerobic and interval cardio is aerobic. Both are great for burning fat.
HITT is short in duration and generally burns less calories while performing than intervals or steady state cardio. The beauty of HITT is it revs of the body so much that it can continue to burn fat for up to 36 hrs after completing the HITT session. While the other two mentioned is about 3 hrs post completion. HITT example goes like this, 30 second jog followed by a 10-15 second full out sprint and I mean FULL OUT like you're being chased by a hungry lion and then back to a light jog for 30 seconds then back to that life saving sprint for 10-15 seconds. Do this cycle for 10-15 minutes then your done. Depending on your level of cardiovascular and muscular conditioning , you can do a shorter jog, like 15 seconds and 15 second sprint or 10 sec jog, 10 sec sprint, etc. You can't really do true HITT with much longer sprint time since most people can't maintain a full out sprint longer than 20 seconds. My recommendation is no longer than 15 seconds on the sprint section. Manually adjusted Spinner bikes like the ones used in spinner group classes are great for HITT cardio too. Using any of the digital/computer adjusted cardio equipment for HITT cardio won't really work. Too much time to get to desired speed, very difficult to go full speed on those machines as well.
Intervals are better than steady state for burning fat. Interval cardio selections are usually built in to the cardio equipments programming. Hills are a good example of Intervals. The idea is to raise your heart rate 20 or more bpm and back down to where it was or close to where it was on the easier phase. And to do this repeatedlyanywhere from 25-45 min depending on individual needs.
Steady state is cardio where you reach your target heart rate and keep it there for entire duration of cardio session. Generally from 30-60 minutes. This is not optimal for fat loss for most people, in my opinion.
Fasted cardio( empty stomach except for consuming 5-10 grams of bcaa's beforehand to prevent muscle catabolism and often done 1st thing in the am after waking) , while on paper isn't any different inamount of fat loss compared to non fasted cardio but in my personal experience and my experience with coaching others, it's more effective than non fasted cardio.
Nothing in fitness is black and white. What works for one individual doesn't mean it will work for the next. This article is meant to give you some guidelines to get you started on the path to your physique goals. I,myself, have utilized "functional" training and sports based conditioning to aid with my bodybuilding goals as well as some of my clients. By the way, I actually hate the term "functional" as it pertains to fitness. The bench press is considered to not be "functional" in the fitness world because it doesn't translate to real world situations. But if your goal is to be a record holder in powerlifting or to build a bigger chest, then it's pretty damn "functional" now isn't it?! 😉 So, use everything at your disposal to aid you in achieving your goals and have fun along the way. And this should go without saying but you can't eat like shitand think your trainingis enough to achieve a great looking physique unless you're one of the very few genetic freaks out there. And even they must adhere to a somewhat nutritionally sound diet. Nutrition for aestheticswill be the topic of my next article. Until then train hard, eat well and BEyondlimITz...BE IT!!
Cameron Mitchell, C.F.T
JnC Fitness is BEyondlimITz