I know, I know, kind of a gross subject line… But bear with me, it’s
(And you’ll want to “enable images” for these pics.)
Here’s what’s up:
We love to talk about strength (myself included) and we love to talk
about fat loss (myself included) and we love to talk about conditioning
for conditioning’s sake, a la MetCon, but there’s one thing we don’t
routinely talk about.
It’s almost like the elephant in the room.
And it goes over about as well as the proverbial fart in church.
Which is weird and stupid at the same time because it is such a necessity,
especially once you’ve crested the Over 30 Hill.
And it’s especially important for us Over 40 crowd.
Gets back to that whole “hormone” thing.
As we crest 40 our hormone levels drop.
For men, our testosterone levels drop and we start to pack on body fat.
For women, well, that’s icky stuff I don’t like to talk about but we all know
that you’re approaching the “Big M” – where everything changes, including
an increased risk for osteoporosis.
(Just kidding about the “icky stuff” – but we do know that menopause is
going to hit sometime within the next 15 years, so your body in many
cases, has already started to change.)
So what in the “wide wide world of sports” to quote Slim Pickens in
“Blazing Saddles” are we talking about?
Or more specifically:
STAGE 4: MUSCLE BUILDING.
No, not that kind.
Nor that kind either.
And while we’re at it, the average woman thinks that if she starts
building muscle or go on a muscle building program, she’ll look
Not. Even. Close.
That young lady looks like that because she’s filled herself full of
testosterone, among other things.
There is NO WAY on God’s green earth a woman could EVER
look like that without using drugs – steroids.
Healthy muscle-building protocols, especially using your trusty
kettlebells, puts muscle on in all the right places, giving your body
an aesthetically pleasing shape and look.
For men, we’ll notice and increase in the broadness of our shoulders,
the thickness of our arms and forearms (a.k.a. “Da Gunz”), our waist
will narrow, and we’ll put some, but not a whole lot unless you really
focus on it, on our legs.
For ladies, you’ll notice tighter, firmer thighs and derriere, your waist
will get smaller too, and those “batwings” – the “hang” underneath
your arms will tighten up and start to disappear.
Here’s the really interesting part:
With the proper muscle-building protocols, you can actually start
reversing the aging process.
Testosterone and Growth Hormone levels will increase, helping
you stay naturally lean and strong, without over-relying on dieting.
And the increased muscle will decrease and start to reverse the
effects of being overweight:
- You’ll reverse insulin resistance, which means that your body
will be able to tolerate carbohydrates again, which means that
you’ll be able to eat more of your favorite foods
- You’ll improve your circulation, including lymph, which is your
body’s trash removal system, improving your immune function,
which means you’ll be less susceptible to illness (and for ladies
it’ll mean some of that cellulite will start to disappear)
- You’ll increase your bone mineral density (which also comes
from pure strength training), which means you’ll be less likely
to suffer from osteoporosis and the frailty that comes with that
- You’ll increase your confidence levels as the former Michelin
Man (or Woman) staring back at you in the mirror disappears
and changes shape, which in turn boosts dopamine levels, the
“feel good” neurotransmitter, that improves your mood and overall
sense of well-being (a great stress reliever)
Not only that…
It gets better!
Consider the following:
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, once you
crest 40, muscle performance deteriorates about five percent per
decade, culminating in approximately a 30 to 40% decrease in
function over the course of your life.
And that –
“Because the independent performance of many daily living activities
is strength-dependent, the maintenance of muscle size and functional
strength should play an important role in the training regime for older
(Source: ACSM Current Comment, “Strength Training for Bone,
Muscle, and Hormones”)
Furthermore, muscle wasting (sarcopenia) has been discovered to
start as early as 30 years old, even in relatively active individuals.
Why does all this matter?
Hold on – I’m getting to it – it’s critically important.
According to the ACSM,
“A gradual loss in muscle cross-sectional area is consistently found
with advancing age; by age 50, about ten percent of muscle area is
gone. After 50 years of age, the rate of accelerates significantly.”
(Source: ACSM Current Comment, “Exercise And The Older Adult”)
The Big Payoff: Why Muscle Matters
There are 3 reasons building muscle matters:
1. Muscle loss produces losses in strength, which means you do
That means when you lose muscle, if you don’t change your activity
or diet, you’ll get fat.
2. Building muscle increases your resting metabolic rate, both while
resting AND recovering.
One extra pound of muscle only burns about 6 extra calories, so
that’s seemingly insignificant. But that one extra pound can do
a lot more work than it previously could.
That means it’s also going to burn more not only while working
out, but also after you worked out.
3. And that means you’ll metabolic rate will be naturally elevated.
Which means that you’ll burn more calories just walking around or
sitting on the couch watching TV than if you didn’t train to put on
Finally, all things being equal, like diet and lifestyle, the more muscle
you have on your body, the easier it is to keep the fat off and stay
Of course if muscle is so important, you may be wondering –
“Why is ‘Muscle Building’ Stage 4?”
Because running a fat loss cycle right before a muscle building
cycle “primes the pump” so to speak, for new growth in the body.
Recall that a fat loss program is usually about “restriction” and
“deprivation.” The body is working hard to shed fat.
Your cells are becoming more and more sensitized to your hormones
like insulin and growth hormone and is starting to operate more
efficiently, more the way it was designed to operate –
To burn more fat than it stores.
And because your body’s cells are becoming more sensitized to do
what they naturally do, like store sugar for future use, instead of storing
it in fat cells -
That sets you up to actually be able to eat more and put your body in
a state of construction, instead of destruction.
(If you think about it, fat loss is a “state of destruction” – you’re
burning large amounts of unwanted fat. Muscle building is the opposite –
you’re building new and wanted tissue.)
By placing a muscle building stage immediately after a fat loss
stage we take advantage of the super-compensation theory – which
states that during training fatigue is created. With that fatigue comes
a decrease in performance, and with the proper application of rest
comes and increase in performance above baseline.
This works great because of the destruction/construction paradigm
we just looked at.
It’s very common to get tired from fat loss training due to the lower
calories and higher volumes / densities of work associated with
Once you increase your calories back to maintenance or higher to
stimulate muscle growth, and you cut back on your volume of work,
two things happen:
1. You continue to lose fat as the increased recovery stimulates
that fat loss, and
2. You start putting on muscle due to the extra calories, decreased
training load, and increased rest.
What this really means is that by placing your fat loss training immediately
before your muscle building training, is that you get an approximate
bonus of 20 to 50% extra fat loss.
It’s like doing 1.5 fat loss programs, where the extra 50% is gotten
from “cheating” – because you’re not even on a fat loss program.
Pretty sweet, huh?
I think so!
So the take-home point here is, if you’re not including some type of
muscle building program in your kettlebell routine every once in awhile
it could be the reason you’re not getting stronger or leaner.
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
What do you do with all this information about this 4-Stage Cycle For
Glad you asked.
I’ll be letting you in on something I’ve been working in the next couple
of days which I think you’re going to like.
Let’s just say that it’s the closest thing to me coming over to your
house, writing your workouts, and training you personally, guiding
you to your goals faster than you thought possible.
More details to come.