What impacts body composition?
A lot of people inaccurately assume that they are not in control of their body composition. Certainly, there are genetics in play to some degree. But many people lean on that, and use it as an excuse for why they are not where they want to be physically.
Your body composition is very heavily impacted by what you eat and how you exercise. That means that you can be in control.
Generally, your body is made up of lean mass, including muscles and organs, and fat mass, which is the fat tissue you have stored throughout the body. These together are commonly referred to as your body composition.
But know that not all exercise is created equal. In other words, running and strength training provide you with different benefits and each impacts your body composition in different ways. They should be done together, versus just practicing one style of exercise exclusively.
Likewise, not all food is created equal. It is important to manage your calorie intake to manage your body composition. Eating real, whole foods, limiting sugar, consuming good fats, and getting an adequate intake of protein are a good idea.
What’s my ideal body composition?
Become clear on what you desire for yourself. What do you want to achieve physically? Do you want to gain muscle and reduce fat? Looking to put on some healthy weight?
Make your goals clear and concise and remind yourself of them daily in order to stay on track. Being motivated in the beginning is to be expected, but you must have a plan for the days when you’re tired or mentally in a funk. Plan in advance for those days when you need an extra mental boost. Watch an inspiring movie, listen to upbeat music, or even meditate to keep yourself in the right frame of mind.
Many find it helpful to find workout buddies to keep them accountable. Look to them to help keep you on track. Joining a gym or attending local fitness classes are other ways to stay motivated and accountable.
Keep your diet healthy
Have you heard the saying, “you can’t out-exercise a poor diet?” It’s true. Exercise alone will not change your body composition — you need to eat a healthy diet, too.
There may be an initial period of adjustment as your taste buds encounter healthier options, but you will soon be so happy with how great your body feels that you’ll begin to enjoy fueling your body well.
Remind yourself that you don’t have to do everything overnight, and results come with time. Take baby steps in integrating new, healthier alternatives and weaning yourself off of the processed junk. Trust the process and have fun creating healthy twists on the foods you know and love.
How to get your ideal physique
Take care of your diet.
Eat loads of nutrient-dense foods. Look to minimize sugar, get enough protein, and take in plenty of good fats.
Listen to your body.
Feel crummy after eating something? Make a mental note and adjust accordingly. Eat to feel good. Your “gut” feeling won’t lead you astray.
Train to failure.
You won’t grow and reach your goals optimally if you are not pushing yourself to your limits. It’s not until you encounter your physical ceiling that you know what you’re capable of. Cardiovascular exercise is an excellent complement to weight training, but it will help you shed fat and weight faster if you keep your body guessing by including high-intensity interval training with other cardio exercises. Keep in mind that your leg muscles are the largest and most expansive muscles in your body, making them the biggest calorie hogs. It requires a lot of energy to fuel your leg muscles and the power that they generate. Thus, it will make your training the most effective to do exercises that engage and recruit all of your leg muscles. You’ll notice that all of the below exercises engage your legs or glutes.
Go hard when you’re training, but also take the time to stretch to increase your mobility and be sure to take time to rest your muscles.
Get your mind right.
As a tie-in to the last pointer, it’s crucial to keep a sound mind. Center yourself and stay firm in your self-belief. That’s the foundation of everything you do in life.
Get ready to kick-start that metabolism, burn calories, challenge yourself, and burn off unwanted fat.
The essential exercises
Incorporating these exercises into your regular routine will help you safely and effectively achieve your body composition goals.
No equipment required. Yoga mat optional.
Burpees are powerhouse moves and mega calorie burners that target your core, shoulders, and thighs.
How to perform
- Start in the plank position with toes and palms on the ground, holding your body up horizontally.
- Bring your knees to your chest by tucking them and then planting your feet on either side of your hands.
- Come to an upright position and jump up by driving your weight through your heels.
- This completes one repetition. The goal is to make these motions flow together to comprise a rhythmic, continuous movement.
- Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
No equipment required.
This traditional workout move has been popular in the fitness realm for many years, and for good reason. Pushups strengthen your shoulders and help strengthen your core.
How to perform
- Start in a resting position, lying flat on your stomach.
- Push yourself off of the ground into a plank position, holding your body up with your hands and toes.
- Lower yourself back down and let your chest touch the ground.
- Push your weight down through your palms and bring your body back up to a plank position.
- Be sure to clench your glutes together and keep your back flat in order to engage all necessary muscles.
- Perform 5 sets of 15 repetitions.
3. Interval training
Interval training is an important part of attaining your ideal body composition because it keeps your body guessing and elevates your heart rate and calorie burning for a long period of time, even after you finish exercising.
How to perform
- Using a treadmill, start out at 3 mph to get your legs moving.
- After 1 minute, increase the speed to 7 mph.
- Maintain that speed for 30 seconds and then drop your speed back down to 4 mph.
- Alternate 15-second segments at 4 mph with 30-second segments at 7 mph. Aim to complete the run 10 to 15 times.
If you need more than 15 seconds to rest in between running sets, allow yourself that time. It’s helpful to wear a heart rate monitor during interval training to keep an eye on your heart rate. You want to make sure you don’t exceed 170 beats per minute if you are younger than 55.
4. Weighted squat jump
A light, handheld weight. Yoga mat optional.
This move will help sculpt your bottom half in a hurry. You should feel this exercise primarily targeting your quads and glutes.
How to perform
- Start by standing upright with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forward, grasping your weight with both hands and holding it in front of you.
- Bend your legs and drop your bottom down to knee height. Your legs should form a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the movement.
- Drive your body weight through your heels and push yourself back upright, squeezing through your glutes on the way up. Maintain good form by keeping your chest out and shoulders back. Don’t let your torso become parallel with the ground.
- Make sure you have a firm grip on your weight throughout the movement. You may feel your shoulders and biceps becoming increasingly fatigued as your reps progress.
- Perform 5 sets of 25 repetitions. Adjust this number if you feel you can do more at the end of each set.
You can practice a variation on the traditional squat by widening your stance and pointing your toes outward. This move will target the inside of your thighs.
5. Explosive lunge jump
No equipment required.
Your hamstrings and glutes will be in the best shape of your life if you regularly integrate this move. Your heart rate will soar and you will feel the tightness in your legs immediately.
How to perform
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- With your right leg, take a large step forward and drop your bottom down so that your back leg kisses the ground.
- Push your weight down through your front heel in order to stand back upright.
- Repeat the same motion with your left leg.
- Resist the urge to drop your torso. Keep your abdomen upright and your abs engaged.
- Perform 5 sets of 30 lunges (15 on each leg, per set).