“Are you currently strength training?”
The baffled expression that follows this simple question is always priceless. Regardless of the answer, most people are caught off guard when the person they just hired for nutrition advice is making it a clear priority to ask them if they are strength training. And I am not asking them “Are you working out?” or “Do you lift weights?” And I am especially not trying to find out how much time they spend in their “fat burning zone” while prancing on the elliptical.
Many people start to shift in their seat a bit when they discover I also don’t care how many calories they burnt last week according to the app on their phone.
These numbers mean nothing of value to me. The information I am interested in obtaining is this: Are they swinging respectable sized kettlebells ? Are they performing a reasonable number of “shoulders to bar” dips or “chest to ground” pushups? Or are they at least holding a solid plank for a minute?
Why is this sort of information so important to me? Because the physiological adaptions associated with strength training make it the easiest and most effective way to improve body composition. In the words of Master SFG Dan John, strength training is the “low hanging fruit” and “one stop shop for turning your body into a fat burning machine.” Indeed, and for this reason I choose to have my clients start by focusing on spending some quality time getting their feet wet with some good, old fashioned strength training. In fact, this is the exact order of business for all my clients who are not on a solid, balanced routine that includes strength training:
Phase 1 – Begin strength training a minimum of 2 days a week.
Phase 2 – Eat a significant amount of food within an hour following each workout (usually I recommend a protein/carb shake or a staple meal like breakfast, lunch, or dinner)
Phase 3 – Begin dissecting the other half of the famous body composition “equation”
What is this equation I speak of? Well, it’s only the only equation that really matters in the world of body composition improvement.
Changes to the body = Calories in – Calories out
Within the practice of nutrition coaching, many coaches immediately jump to the right side of the equation. They illustrate the point that “nutrition is simple physics” and direct their clients toward the OCD world of calorie counting, food scales, and macronutrient splits. And, in my opinion, this is a big mistake.
What is often overlooked is the huge significance of the left side of the equation. What some see as the end product is really the secret key to achieving their client’s goals with resounding simplicity and ease without sacrificing their sanity. What I am talking about here?
“Changes to the body” does not simply mean gains or losses in mass (weight). I extend the definition to include changes in how the body processes the energy (food) we supply it. Interestingly enough, strength training causes some incredibly profound changes to the body that both directly and indirectly significantly affect the right side of the equation. Those changes include (but are not limited to):
-Nutrient re-partitioning via release of a cascade of countless fat burning, muscle building, anti-aging, mood-enhancing hormones
-Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)
-Gains in lean mass and bone density
The end result is that progressive strength training offers us the ability to create a body that is a lean, 24 hour fat torching machine that also just happens to be impressively strong, durable, and resistant to all forms of stress. Over time, the improved hormone profile and additional lean mass changes greatly contribute to this effect by drastically speeding up the daily metabolic rate (and therefore the “calories out” part of the equation). This translates to enjoying more high quality food while fat melts off effortlessly. Body composition improvements also become maintainable unlike the restrictive calorie diet variety. Sounds to me like a win-win sort of situation.
Most people find that paying their dues through time under the bar (or kettlebell) brings them to a comfortable spot with respect to their body composition. From there, refinements can be made to the nutrition plan to produce whatever the desired results may be.
Want proof? I have hundreds of files with all the data. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember…Strong first, Nutrition second.