Fitness Guru- How to build muscle and lose fat at the same time

The best way to keep your fat cells a healthy normal size is to do a resistance training program at least three times a week.

Like it not, we’re stuck with 25-35 billion fat cells, for life. Our immune system breaks down around 10% of fat cells every year, but otherwise all our fat cells are busy expanding and shrinking in size during weight gain and loss. We need fat, as without it, we would freeze. Fat cells are also our fuel tanks, holding on to fatty molecules called lipids, and releasing them as a source of energy for the body. Fat also cushions our vital organs, stores crucial supplies of certain vitamins, and helps us have a functioning immune system. 

If you struggle with fat, turning to “gut-busting” diets and fat-burning supplements won’t “burn” fat. Fat cells don’t go away, as they are stored properly in fat cell layers under the skin. Where they are not intended to be is around organs, like the kidneys or heart, or even inside organs.

The best way to keep your fat cells a healthy normal size, and your body weight under control, is to do a resistance training program at least three times a week. Building more skeletal muscle mass and losing fat mass is one of the main reasons athletes and avid exercisers lift weights.

Within a resistance-training program, intensities, volume, and exercise selection all stimulate muscle growth. Your baseline body composition also factors in to the rate of muscle gain and fat loss.

In the first few weeks of training, newcomers to weight lifting see changes and definition in their biceps and butts. New research shows that trained individuals, not just beginners, can continue to build muscle and lose fat at the same time with two key factors: progressive resistance training and evidence-based nutrition strategies.

Mix it up

Recent studies published in the Strength & Conditioning Journal show that trained individuals can get stronger whether you train two days a week or four. In another study, there was no difference in training frequency of three times a week versus six times a week. Using a volume matched power-lifting program, both groups similarly gained a significant amount of fat-free mass and lost fat mass. It was noted that participants didn’t alter their normal nutrition habits for these particular studies.

A little more protein

Typically, to improve athletic performance it’s common practice to eat less for fat loss, and eat more to maximize muscle mass. But studies show that your post workout snack could be key to improve body composition. The authors of the resistance training studies found that approximately 70% of the subjects improved their body composition with a high-protein diet.

In one study, female collegiate volleyball players, all receiving guidance from a sports nutrition/registered dietician, added 25 grams of whey protein immediately after each power-oriented, full-body workout or a strength workout. Whether working to maximize power output, or participating in workouts specifically for strength, all athletes in each group gained muscle and lost fat. Although approaches to diet can vary with each person, the authors noted that a moderate protein intake and a more balanced nutritional approach came out at the top of the list to keep those fat cells where they need to be, no more, no less.

Connie Aronson is an ACSM Exercise Physiologist and Corrective Exercise Specialist (TBBM-CES) Follow her at and Instagram@conniearon

Training Like a Pro for Golf

The biomechanics and complexity of a golf swing could make your head spin. An elite player uses nearly every joint in their body to propel 900 kg of force to hit a ball in half a millisecond or so at impact. At the elite level, the club-head speeds can exceed 160 kilometers an hour, all the while taking only .2 seconds to accelerate the club to this speed. Furthermore, throughout the game, elite players maintain a consistent club-head alignment within 2 degrees from shot to shot. At this level of playing, the game requires core strength and stability, power, flexibility and balance.

So it’s no surprise that today’s top players take their preparation for the game very seriously. They are leaner, more flexible and muscular than previous generations. They are training like athletes to play at a consistently high level.

To excel at any sport you love requires preparation and training, and new research  offers some training ideas .The Canadian National Golf Team was recruited for a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research this past May. The testing of these competitors looked at limb length, abdominal strength, pull-up strength, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, balance, and leg power and how it all affects golf performance. The testing showed genetics gave some advantage to players with long limbs and height. Those long limbs generate much more force at impact in both men and women.  The results of a run test showed a relationship between a good cardiovascular base and total score short game and putting average.

The abdominal muscle endurance test s involved variations of forearm planks, where the body is held stiff using your arms and toes as pivot points. Strong internal and external oblique muscles on the dominant side of the female golfers helped swing power and drive distance. These muscles act like an anatomical girdle around your middle. There were also correlations between putting distance and 5 –iron distance, in both men and women, showing that core strength and stability are important to train. The balance test had the athlete stand on one foot, with the foot of the other leg against the lower part of the support foot. The test began when they were asked to raise the heel of the support foot from the floor, and to balance as long as possible.  Given the weight shifts and balancing primarily on the dominant leg that occur during backswings, and sometimes uneven ground, balance training was found to be very beneficial to performance.

Leg power was found to be more crucial for men than for woman for power during the golf swing. Upper body strength as in pull-ups and push-ups was correlated with drive distance. Forearm strength was different between the men and women, suggesting that very different recruitment patterns may be happening for the different sexes during different aspects of the game. (Distance in the male group; only putting in the female group)

Body angles, joint forces, and muscle activity patterns all sounds very complex. You can start to practice at least one good habit this summer by keeping your  warm-up simple, as another study of competitive golfers  warmed up  with 10 practice swings, then 15 full swings with their competitive clubs to longer lighter clubs,  as opposed to a 20 minute stretching routine. (Less force can be applied to the bone because of the slack in the tendon after static stretching).  It’s just a game, after -all.

Connie Aronson, ASCM Health Fitness Specialist                                                                                                        Published June 26 in The Idaho Mountain Express