In order to build muscle and lose fat you should have a exercise system that is simple to use, effective and takes little time to complete, i.e. just 20 minutes of quality exercises per day.  This is key for long term improvements in health, vitality and fitness.

To stay motivated on any fitness program is not easy especially if you are doing long duration fitness sessions and it is mainly endurance athletes and sportsmen who tend to undertake hours of training. The reason why most people fail to keep to a program is that most fitness programs are way too long, and are not designed for the individual needs and more often than not do not target the right energy systems. 

So for a fitness program to be effective, it must have short sessions which produce significant results in a relatively short period of time, 30 days or more. This will ultimately guarantee you will stay motivated right to the end as you achieve your short and long term goals. This will build your confidence and enthusiasm quickly by allowing you to stay focussed on your fitness program, and not to give in after the initial enthusiasm has worn off. 

The first step is to have SMART goals which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based. This should include doing a quick health and fitness check up which you can easily do using the calculators on this website.

Here are some recommendations:

Body Mass Index (BMI)
Waist Circumference
Resting Heart Rate (RHR) 
Cardio check for heart (Bike Test; Walk Test; 1.5 Mile Run Test)

There are 2 phases to strength training. The initial phase is where muscle is broken down through exercise (Catabolic Phase) and the recuperation – growth phase (Anabolic phase).  During the initial phase of exercise the stress hormone cortisol is released into the body and then through out the anabolic phase the “feel good” hormones are released from the pituitary gland. These include serotonin which can make you happy, endorphins for feeling better, reduced anxiety and sensitivity to pain, dopamine which makes you mentally alert and testosterone which grows muscle.

One of the unfortunate responses to over exercising is too much cortisol which can lead to a negative response pattern and the loss of feel good hormones. The body adapts through rest periods – the recovery phase allowing anabolic hormones to work. Therefore, short term high energetic exercise leave you feeling good whereas long routines can leave you feeling down, tired and lethargic.

The Biggest Problem in Fitness Industry

One of the biggest problems in the fitness and leisure industry is that clients are sometimes encouraged to over exercise.  There is actually no need to train for an hour when 20 mins is more than enough to tax the body to its limits. The most effective way to exercise is carry out high intensity exercise to break down the muscle fibres in short spurts and then to have adequate rest in-between the exercises and sessions. Therefore it is imperative to do the least amount of exercise necessary to gain the most adaptive response.

The Guiding Principles of Improving Fitness  and Muscle Growth

The ability of the human body to recover after exercise largely depends on their genetics, age, muscle size and strength.  For example an individual who can bench press 300 lbs will take longer to recover than someone who can only press 50 lb due to the fact that the muscle is bigger and the total load on the body is much higher. An individual who is older, say over 35 will have less testosterone to aid recovery and build growth so will need to train a shorter duration as it also takes longer to recover.

The centre line where the training stimulus starts continues for 10 days. The first phase is the training and catabolic phase where the body goes into temporary fatigued and then starts to recover.  Unfortunately, people continue to train their bodies in a catabolic or fatigued state where there is a rise in the stress hormone cortisol which reduces dopamine, endorphins the so called happy hormones.

The second common error most people make is they will start to train at day 5 when the soreness has gone. The muscles have just reach their neutral state and need time for the adaptive response – anabolic phase to kick in. Without this you will never see any improvement as the anabolic hormones do not get released . The growth phase starts around day 5.  This is the reason why most people end up quitting their program as they never get out of the catabolic stage.  This leaves people feeling anger and frustration.  This is over training. Muscle growth only starts at the point where your muscles are no longer sore and continues to grow up to 5 – 10 days after the muscles have ended the catabolic stage.

Positive Momentary Muscular Failure

Muscle contraction is an all or nothing response. When we move a muscle such as picking up an object some of the fibres contract whereas the others relax. To allow the whole muscle to contract there needs to be a force large enough which gives positive momentary muscular failure.  The failure point is the only time when all the muscle fibres have been stimulated enough to adapt and grow. There is only one total positive momentary muscular failure required per exercise. Training over multiple sets is not necessary as it causes catabolic over training.

How does Positive Momentary Muscular Failure relate to Reps and Sets

A decent amount of weight is needed at a maximum of 12 reps. Muscular failure at a higher rep range causes failure for the wrong reasons. Over 12 reps the muscles begin to fail because of a build up of lactic acid , not because they are getting tired. Lactic acid  in the muscles means only one thing, that all the glycogen stores have been used up and not because of the resistance of a heavier weight.

A typical set would consist of 12 Reps at 40% maximum effort, 8 Reps at 60% maximum effort and 4 -6 Reps at 80 – 90% with the last few reps going into positive momentary muscular failure. Repeat this for 3 exercises per body part such as Chest and Triceps. You would then allow 10 days recovery before you return to those body areas again.  Allow 1 day recovery and move to the next body part which could be Back and Biceps. This is known as a 10 day Split Routine and in my opinion in the most optimal way to build muscle, lose fat and feel great about yourself.

It is now widely recognised that people can be in a constant state of overtraining – catabolic without realising it.  This can create stress, frustration, anxiety and anger and ultimately end up in exercise failure. It is only natural that people will eventually stop doing something they dislike when all thats needed to guarantee optimal muscle growth and fat loss is the right amount of exercise and rest. This ultimately brings about positive results, consistency and satisfaction with the exercise program.