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Myth-busting: effective ways to change body composition

Myth-busting: effective ways to change body composition

As a Personal Trainer in Clapham, the purpose of this post is to identify more efficient means of changing body composition (I’ll explain shortly why I haven’t used the phrase ‘lose weight’), while addressing a few misconceptions that I hear frequently.

Walk into any gym and you’ll usually see a line of treadmills with good-intentioned people walking and running at a steady pace, all attempting to lose weight.

Here are a few myths broken and a few recommendations made to get you on the fast track to changing your body composition.

Myth: Weight Loss is the ultimate objective

An important distinction to make right off the bat is weight loss vs. fat loss. While weight (and dropping it) is often the objective obsessed about, its fat loss that will yield the longer-term benefits. This is because weight loss can include water and if you aren’t careful can be at the expense of muscle mass (this is why dieting is not a wise choice).

A great gauge to see how much body fat you are losing is to monitor how your clothing fits at the start of your training, and then after 8 weeks of consistent work (i.e. 2-3 sessions per week). While the numerical value of your weight may not change that much, the fact that your clothes are fitting better and not tight in unwanted places indicates that your body composition is changing for the better, in spite of what the scale is telling you.

Myth: Avoid weights to not ‘get bulky’

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, by lifting weights on a regular basis you will be creating a virtuous cycle in terms of calorie consumption, leading you to become leaner because your body will become a calorie and fat-burning furnace. 

In hugely simplistic terms, muscle tissue is an energy hog – it requires lots of calories. The more muscle tissue that you build and preserve through resistance training, the more energy you will require to feed the muscle tissue you are building. Therefore by building muscle tissue through resistance training you will create the virtuous cycle of constantly burning calories.

Oh, and in terms of becoming bulky, as long as you are monitoring your calorie intake (i.e. don’t eat outrageous amounts of extra calories) as you train, your muscles will become stronger and leaner with lifting heavy weights, not bigger.

Myth: the best way to a flat tummy is through sit ups

If you want to flatten that tummy and/or improve your core strength, there are much better ways to accomplish this than sit-ups.

A much more effective way to hit the core is to focus on complex exercises that engage the upper and lower body at once (i.e. kettlebell swings, back squats or thrusters). Anyone who has trained with me has heard the expression ‘all roads lead through the middle’. By using exercises that engage upper and lower limbs at the same time, to maintain correct form (i.e. back straight, shoulders back and chest high) you have no alternative but to engage your abdominals muscles, otherwise you would not be able to maintain correct form.

Try using complex movements and see what the difference is for your waistline…yes it is more challenging, but the results will more than make up for the extra effort required.
To learn more about healthy eating habits to achieve your fitness goals, contact James Staring, a leading personal trainer in Clapham, London.


James StaringJames Staring is a personal trainer based in Clapham, London. His methods have featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Hello, Healthy, Daily Mail, Closer, and many more. After giving up smoking and entering the fitness industry in 2009, James has focused on his passion to help others transform their health and fitness. However, James is convinced that most people struggle so much more than they need to in an effort to improve their fitness. Through his company, Fit to Last, which he runs with his partner, Ali Page – James has helped hundreds of men and women make small adjustments in their daily habits to transform their fitness and to love how they look and feel.

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