It often looks ourselves in the mirror, and to realize that we have taken a few extra pounds!
Whether it was the overeating during the Christmas holidays or that we are returning from an intense period at work during which we cannot take care of ourselves, the question remains the same: How to Get Back in Shape?
Many think not being fit is a condition inherited from birth, or that whoever is fit is because he is an athlete.
The more one is convinced of this, the more behavioral patterns are introduced which are not inclined to change the status of things (example: incorrect food style, sedentary lifestyle, etc.), inducing the person to confirm their hypotheses.
People with a poor quality of body composition (high levels of fat mass) therefore tend to have, first of all, preconceptions and false beliefs about the real state of things. The difficulty in these cases lies in the consolidation of a lifestyle so altered and far from the correct eating habits and self-care, now rooted in one’s daily life that it becomes really difficult to get away from it to start new and healthy habits.
Added to this is the difficulty in overcoming the psychological component that binds them to social roles attributed to them by third parties, in which many identify themselves, thus finding it difficult to dissociate from them for fear of altering the balance of roles.
The typical and recurring example is that of the person who has been overweight or obese for a long time and who, starting a path of weight loss and getting the first and clear results, is heard by the people around him phrases with no constructive connection to the path taken and even more with no scientific value and / or objectively measurable, such as “where do you want to go?” “be careful that you are losing too much”, “you are staring.
But be careful, we are not talking about cases in which “limit” habits and behaviours can be concretely inferred, such as to be able to frame the subject in the wide sphere of eating behaviour disorders (DCA) or border-lines. If this were the case, an altered perception of one’s own body image, methods of purgation, loss of control over food, psychiatric comorbidities, etc. would appear.
In this case, the greater attention and warnings from third parties would be well founded.
It is true that those who know the person in depth could have the awareness of some characteristics and attitudes, such as the tendency to throw themselves headlong into diets and training programs, exceeding, and therefore abandoning early; even then the warnings would be constructive.
In some cases, however, these are emotional manifestations “masked” by an apparent interest in the person. If so, we would not deal with constructive, proactive and positive affirmations. And such statements, in people who do not know how to decode their real meaning, can breach and succeed. Fortunately for many others this is not the case, for which the desire to recover is such as not to let external disturbing agents compromise the natural course of events.
Below we will report a model program of corporal recomposition for beginners, on which it is obviously possible to build your own by personalising it.
Any body recomposition program is based on the following cardinal principles:
- Aerobic training.
Let’s see them in detail.
Diet to get back in shape
The diet, possibly intended as simple “food advice”, is aimed at supporting lean body mass during the weight loss process, the latter intended as the reduction of body fat.
Losing muscles during weight loss causes a reduction in basal metabolic rate (MB) – since they are responsible for the largest portion of energy consumed at rest – compromising the long-term effectiveness of the system.
The basic metabolism is supported by the aerobic-oxidative system; many will conclude that, to overcome this drawback, it is also possible to increase active expenditure by moving more, for example, with aerobic training. This is true, but let’s not forget that, especially in poorly trained people, the aerobic machine also requires substantial quantities of carbohydrates – which in the low-calorie regime tend to be less than necessary. To obtain them, the body uses the amino acids of proteins, with the risk of worsening muscle catabolism. Not to mention that higher consumption also leads to greater appetite, with the risk of worsening compliance with the system.
In rest conditions, on the other hand, when the basal metabolic rate simply consumes the most, the contribution of lipids (or fats) to the caloric value of the basic metabolism is 90%. This means that the application of 90% on an increased basic metabolism translates into a net use of fats for energy purposes compared to the application of the same rate (90%) towards lower basic metabolism values, such as those following a loss of lean mass. On the contrary, as we will see, the goal of training will also be to increase it.
Muscle to get back in shape
By muscle we mean a training protocol aimed at hypertrophy of the muscles, i.e. optimisation or gain of muscle mass (lean). The strategies are mainly two: training with overloads (especially weight lifting) and free body training (callisthenics). Note: Overload training is generally more practicable, especially for beginners, because it requires significantly lower strength levels.
This can be structured on a three-weekly basis, to give the body the opportunity to profitably adapt to the training stimuli and without resulting in over-training. The duration is confined to 50-60 minutes, while the training intensity is always high. By “high intensity” (HIT) in this case we mean the choice of workloads between 65 and 90% of the maximum that allows a repetition (1RM), applied on a number of repetitions (rep) included between 6 and 12, and with breaks oscillating between 60-120 ‘. The weights used (kg) and the pauses observed are a function of the number of repetitions that mark the series (sets) within the different programs. The execution technique is slow, controlled, with pauses in maximum shortening and emphasis in the eccentric phase.
Weight training, in addition to promoting muscle preservation or growth, causes a slight cardiac ventricular hypertrophy, due to “systolic pressure stress”.
Aerobic training to get back in shape
Together with weight training, however, it is essential to combine an aerobic type workout, with variable intensity from low to high. This for several purposes:
- Slimming, direct and indirect
- Of general health, metabolic, cardiovascular, etc.
The low intensity aerobic protocol could be done on an empty stomach, to encourage a greater contribution of fats to energy expenditure rather than glucose. This would be determined by the hormonal structure of the fast itself, or by the prevalence of glucagon (catabolic) over insulin (anabolic), both with the function of glycemic regulation, but opposite to each other. Glucagon also favours the use of adipose triglycerides and reduces lipolysis, while insulin promotes their savings and lipo-synthesis.
Today we know, however, that if it is really possible to force a certain metabolic pathway, the whole body will try to restore as much as possible as soon as possible. Since it is not advisable to follow a balanced diet with less fat than necessary – since the intake of fat-soluble vitamins is related to them – this system no longer has the importance that was once attributed to it, and it is the total calories consumed that make the difference.
Furthermore, aerobic activity represents “diastolic volumetric stress” for the heart. The consequence is that it causes a slight dilation of the cardiac chambers, with consequent greater filling of blood inside the heart and greater vigour in the heteromeric mechanism of contraction (according to Frank-Starling’s law). In theory, more capacious cardiac chambers, in the presence of slight ventricular hypertrophy, determine greater efficiency in cardiac hemodynamics.
Each of the 3 points mentioned must be subject to readjustments according to the changes that follow the recomposition process. More precisely:
- Lean mass levels
- Fat levels
- Basal metabolism (although it is not possible to estimate it with certainty, if not with very difficult methods to apply)
- Metabolic parameters (blood sugar, triglycerides, cholesterolaemia, blood pressure etc.).
On the basis of this, the 3 points will be personalised again, to ensure the constancy of the progression. This alternation must continue until the result is achieved, even if sometimes substantial changes are required to say the least.
The main difficulties in getting back into shape, which are proposed above all in the early stages, are:
- Difficulty in changing lifestyle; however, once the first results and the perception of a better state of health and psycho-physical efficiency have been tested, it is not difficult to be convinced of the path to be abandoned and the one to be taken.
- Difficulty in learning the correct execution technique; learning is difficult for everyone (and in a different way) in the early stages, but those who have problems with excess weight accuse it in a superior way and for two reasons in particular:
- the high weight also causes postural problems that make it difficult to perform most of the free body exercises, that is those without the use of “guided” machines (example: difficulty in performing the squat with the free barbell compared to the same exercise performed with the help of multipower)
- the high body weight (when characterised by high quantitative levels of fat mass) together with a sedentary condition leads to less muscle flexibility and the consequent and intrinsic difficulty in making the individual movements in full respect of the total joint excursion.
These two points explain why it is often necessary to wait a relatively conspicuous time to: perform the repetitions in complete joint excursion, obtain greater efficiency of the individual gestures, gain strength and endurance.
What is important to underline beyond the personal success related to the achievement of the objectives, is that every person with weight problems is able to radically change their physical shape, health status and quality of life, but this only if it is willing to face (especially psychologically) a radical and totalitarian change in habits.
Without a radical change, no training and nutritional strategy, however scientifically and rationally structured, will be able to produce significant lasting improvements. The only real limit to improvement and success lies only in one’s own mindset.