1. CARBOHYDRATES AREN'T THE ENEMY
Do we need to reduce carbohydrates (carbs) under most circumstances in the fat loss phase? Yes. Do we need to cut them out completely? No. Cutting out a complete macronutrient (fat, carbs, protein) from your diet does not help to achieve your goals. In fact, every macronutrient is an essential part of a healthy diet. Carbs in particular give your cells, tissues and organs energy. It keeps everything going. You see, banning them from your plate will leave you tired, with no energy. When it comes to carbs my biggest advice is to choose quality over quantity. Not all carbs are created equal, the quality is important. For example a piece of white bread does not have the same beneficial impact as a bowl of brown rice. The goal is to avoid quickly digested and refined carbs as much as possible. These foods include products made of refined grains such as bread, pasta, cereals, cakes. Instead, go for slowly digested carbs that keep your blood sugar stable. Stable blood sugar levels means focused energy throughout the day, you will feel energised.
"Not only is the quality of the carb important but also the timing of when you eat it. "
We all have different body types and different body composition. What works for you, doesn't necessarily work for someone else. However, you never go wrong if you stick to the rules "carbs are earned after exercise". Your body requires good quality carbs and protein after exercising to help repair muscle tissues and help to build lean muslces. If you want to know more about different body types and nutrient timing, click here to get to know more.
2. WEIGHT TRAINING DOES NOT MAKE YOU BULKY
I remember when I thought lifting weights would make me "bulky". I thought I would end up looking like a female body builder the more weight I lifted. Let me assure you that weight training does not make you bulky. Really, it doesn't. You need to train A LOT, and eat A LOT, to look like a bodybuilder. There is a reason why it's a professional sport. If you train with weights 2-3 times a week, do cardio, stretches and eat lean, your body will look defined and toned but certainly not bulky.
Also, I was never sure whether to give my muscles a rest in between sets or incorporate loads of intensity techniques such as jumping jacks, circuit training as an attempt to burn more fat. Here is the thing, if we techniques to increase intensity as described above, that simply means we can no longer use a heavy enough load help increase and tone your muscle mass. Strenght training should be hard and heavy, with the appropriate rest intervals. Speaking of rest;
"you won't achieve better results if you train every day"
In fact, too much training interferes with gaining muscle. Your body doesn't change in the gym, it largely occurs outside. Here is a great article written by Steve that explains the importance of recovery in more detail.
3. CRUNCHES WON'T GIVE YOU A SIXPACK
Crunches are certainly not the best exercise choice if you are trying to work on your abs because they strenghten only a few of the muscles in your core. You're better off doing some moves that work the entire core area such as varieties of planks, bicycle legs, ab wheels and more. Your abdominal muscles will only show if your body fat percentage is low enough. Doing core exercises but still sticking to an unhealthy, high-calorie diet will not give you a defined mid-section.
4. FLEXIBILITY AND STRETCHING
Sitting the whole day at the office in front of a computer didn't do anything for my flexibility or fitness. Sooner or later my lower back started to kill me and touching the floor with my fingers used to be a real struggle. Not the best place to be when you are in your mid-twenties. I never really took stretching seriously or thought of yoga as an addition to my workout routine. In fact, I thought it was a waste of my time. Well, the worse my back pain got the more open I became to the idea of giving my body a good stretch. The result speaks for itself, I not only got rid of my back pain but also gained a new range of movements and my form at the gym to lift weights to much better. I only can recommend stretching to everyone as part of the injury prevention portfolio. Do it regularly and you soon will feel a change in your body and well being.
5. PROFESSIONAL COACHING
My first experience in the gym was intimidating. I had no idea what to do and how to use the equipment. Instead of getting professional advice (because I was a student and broke) I just tried to copy the people that looked like they were gym experienced. As a result, my form was sloppy, got injured, and my progress, if any, was very poor. Steve and I work out a lot together and his cues on how to adjust my posture when performing an exercise, how to isolate and engage the target muscle made my workouts much more efficient. Time-wise as well as goal oriented. Time is precious; don't waste it in the gym with poorly performed exercises that might result in an injury over time.