We all have that friend who says they never work out and can eat anything they want and still maintain their so-called “perfect” body. And then there are the people at the gym who spend countless hours on the treadmill and seem to have the lean look so many people are aiming to achieve. […]
We all have that friend who says they never work out and can eat anything they want and still maintain their so-called “perfect” body. And then there are the people at the gym who spend countless hours on the treadmill and seem to have the lean look so many people are aiming to achieve. What if I told you that a number of your perfect friends and cardio-aholics may be overweight or even obese? Even though they do not appear to be on the outside, a simple body composition test may determine that they in fact have a high percent of body fat which is the ultimate determinant of obesity.
Body composition is the proportions of lean body mass (bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and organs) and fat which determines a person’s leanness. Despite what the media and several of today’s diet books will tell you, weight and size is not everything. Having the appropriate percent of fat to lean mass is what makes a person healthy. The American Council on Exercise has categorized ranges of body fat percentages as follows:
Without exercise or with incorrect forms of exercise, it is very difficult for your body to maintain the appropriate amount of muscle which leads to a lower percent of lean body mass. Inactivity causes muscle atrophy, or weakening, simple because of lack of use. High amounts of cardio can actually lead to muscle loss due to the energy requirements. If your body does not have the proper nutrients, it will not have the energy to sustain long term cardio and more importantly, may not be able to utilize fat as energy so it will use muscle to fuel itself.
If you are trying to achieve a lean, slim body, keep in mind that the more lean body mass you have, the more fat your will burn naturally. In almost all cases, resistance training is a must for any exercise program. A common misconception that causes many people, particularly women, not to lift weights is that resistance training will cause you to bulk up or look big. For males, this can be true if they are eating properly and lifting in a way that will cause hypertrophy, or muscle increase. For females, it is very difficult to create a bulky, muscular look because of their hormonal make-up. If you are still concerned, keep the weights lighter and the repetitions higher (about 12-20 repetitions per set).
As you evaluate your fitness routine, keep in mind that large is not always correlated with being fat and skinny does not always mean lean. Being healthy and feeling good is far more important than fitting into the jeans you worn in college. Incorporate a balanced mix of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training to stay lean and healthy.