One of my challenges for the month of May is to add a decent amount of muscle while losing fat. I have not done any measuring. I weigh myself once a week or less and look at myself in the mirror a lot. I am also well aware of my energy levels throughout the day as well as my fitness progress.
About a week and a half ago I did 14 straight pull-ups. I will test myself again in June. If I manage to do 20 then I would say its pretty clear I have gained a fair amount of muscle while losing fat. If I beat my 8:33 time in the Primal Blueprint Fitness Challenge then I will be certain that my fitness capacity has expanded.
The following tips are my personal fitness tips in order to gain muscle and lose fat. I do A LOT of reading. This includes The 4 Hour Body which I dove into last night. I am not an expert but am progressing at a reasonable rate while loving life.
1) Quit Cardio
It is completely unnecessary. Two summers ago I thought I enjoyed running. I ran in 9 5 Kilometer runs over 2 summers in shoes. My best time was 21:03 which is about a 6:47 mile pace. In reality I hated it. I love to compete but running sucked ass. I love to hike and jog barefoot or in my Vibram Five Fingers. I will run in 5 kilometer in the future but will gladly take a 30 minute finishing time while running barefoot.
When you engage in long and intense cardio you get hungry. You then eat to make up for it. This is the main reason why most diets fail. Unless you want to starve yourself then quit cardio. It does nothing except harm you.
A brisk walk, jog, hike or any other activity that has you moving frequently at a slow pace is perfect.
2) Don’t Go to Failure
When lifting heavy things, such as your body, go as close to failure as possible without going to failure. Why do I advise that you don’t go 110%? Because you will be sore the next day and will hate it. At least this is where I stand. I engage in a very intense primal fitness challenge once per month. I am sore for the next 2 days. I would literally hate my life if this was the case after every intense strength workout I did.
Go intense. Be smart. Enjoy the workout. Feel amazing.
3) Focus on Proper Form
I have been really focusing on form this month. Ten picture perfect push-ups is a hell of a lot better than twenty quick, half-hearted push-ups. Go slow and concentrate on what you are doing.
I also think of symmetry. For a pull-up most of us will pull ourselves up and then drop down as quickly as possible. I have been slowly lowering myself down. Guess what? I am able to do LESS pull-ups this way and I believe I am working more muscles. Its called efficiency. I am doing LESS but am able to gain MORE muscle in LESS time.
4) Rest & Relax
Don’t we all love a little rest and relaxation? We sure do.
This is again why you should NOT do cardio. Your body loves to rest. If you want to build muscle then only do a strength workout when you are up for it. Rest on the other days.
This includes getting enough sleep. Quality is a hell of a lot more important then quantity. I have been getting around 7 hours lately at the max and have been thriving. This is because I sleep like a baby.
5) Sprint Once per Week
I have yet to do sprint intervals this year. I will be doing my first session this week and will repeat this 1-2 times per week more often than not.
Feel free to do tabata sprints. One session is a 20 second sprint followed by a 10 second walk. Follow this exactly for a total of 8 sessions and you have possibly your most productive workout in just 4 minutes. I prefer to sprint and walk as I please without counting.
Take these tips for what they are worth. They do work if you take action on them.