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    « Energy Drinks - A Closer Look | Main | Formula for Health »

    Different Goals require Different Approaches

    I was recently asked how much cardio is recommended on a daily basis.  The first thought that came to me was, "What is your goal?"

    You see, your approach to training is determined by the goals you have.  Simply put, there are 3 basic goals that people have as far as their physiques are concerned: reduction, maintenance, and gain.


    About 67% of the US population is overweight or obese, putting the majority of people into the "reduction" category.  Their specific goal is to drop unwanted, unhealthy fat.  So what must these people do to achieve that goal? 

    First, their diet has to be consistent with the goal.  5-6 frequent meals (every 2-3 hours) that are balanced in protein, carbohydrate, and fat content are a must.  Meals should not exceed 300-350 calories each, providing a daily caloric intake of 1800-2100 cal/day.  If hunger is an issue, a healthy intake of vegetables with 2-3 meals will help boost the volume of meals without adding a bunch of calories.

    Second, a specific approach to exercise is required to reduce fat.  Spending 1 hour plodding along on a treadmill just isn't going to cut it.  HIIT training, cross-training, and weight training are all necessary ingredients in an effective training regimen.

    Contrary to what popular news stories are saying, you aren't going to burn sufficient calories for reduction purposes by parking further away from the door at the mall and taking the stairs rather than the elevator.  Fat reduction is a matter of intentional action - making sure that the caloric burn exceeds the caloric intake.  I know from experience that becoming fat requires very little effort.  Undoing the fat requires intentional effort - including an amount of discomfort.


    There are those who have dropped the fat and just want to maintain their current levels of fitness.  These people have it a bit easier as far as diet and exercise are concerned.  Diligence, however, is still necessary to avoid allowing fat to creep its way back onto the hips and belly.

    The maintenance diet is similar to the reduction diet in that frequent meals are spread throughout the day and are nutrient rich.  Because there's no desire to create a caloric deficit (where caloric burn is higher than caloric intake), meals can be somewhat larger - 400 calories or so.  2200-2400 calories per day will likely help the average person maintain their current weight and fitness levels.

    Training can be moderate to intense with a balance of weight training and moderate cardio (30 minutes).  An active lifestyle is still recommended, as anyone who adopts an inert lifestyle will probably regain fat weight.


    Believe it or not, there are people out there whose goal is to gain weight.  I'm reminded of the Charles Atlas ads I used to see at the end of the comics I read as a kid where the muscle-bound bully kicks sand in the face of some scrawny guy on the beach.  The skinny kid gets Atlas's program, bulks up and returns the favor to the bully.

    Gainers have to take specific approaches to packing on pounds.  Their daily caloric intake is about 4000-5000 calories of CLEAN foods.  The diet is necessarily clean to avoid excessive fat deposits.  Figure that Gainers are eating like Reducers but in larger volumes.

    Gym time is reduced to weight training almost exclusively, since the catabolic nature of cardio is counterproductive to the Gainer's goals.

    For specific nutritional and exercise regimens related to your individual goals as a Reducer, Maintainer, or Gainer, talk to a fitness professional at your gym.

    Be well!

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