We participate in physical activity for a number of reasons; it may be that we enjoy the exercise we do, or that we want to lose weight, or even gain muscle and improve our body composition.
While chasing goals is very accomplishing and seeing physical results in changes through body composition is very rewarding, we don’t have to choose just one goal.
Balancing your body composition goals and fitness performance goals are very beneficial to your health; this article will explain a few ways you can go about balancing athletics with aesthetics.
The Effects of Nutrition
On Body Composition
It’s possible to lose fat by just altering your nutrition. If you follow a personalised set of macronutrients you’ll be able to create a deficit in which you’ll start to see yourself becoming slimmer without actually doing any physical activity.
The simple explanation of this is:
‘Calories In, Vs. Calories Out’.
If you’re eating less than your body requires or is expending then as a result you’ll start to drop weight.
However. While you’ll notice your weight dropping on the scales, you may not notice it as much in the mirror. This is because although you’re dropping weight, you’re not incorporating any physical activity; you’re also losing fat from areas below the surface initially which won’t be physically visible for a while.
Once you reach a lower level of body fat, your body composition will not be very ‘sculpted’, and you could even have excess skin in some places where you’ve lost weight from.
Do I Have To Exercise and Eat Well To See Changes?
A number of studies have suggested that it is more beneficial for your body composition to lose fat through physical activity as opposed to solely
through nutrition. You can even use a combination of both, which is the most sensible option.
The reason your body composition is more positively effected when performing physical activity to lose fat is because you’re putting your muscles to work and causing the fibres to tear and repair, making them stronger and increasing their size and definition.
✓ As muscle is formed with protein, it’s still very important to follow a personalised set of macronutrients to ensure your body is receiving enough protein to adapt to the exercise and benefit your body composition.
Exercises For Better Body Composition
As for the actual type of exercise you perform, you can choose resistance training. cardiovascular training, agility, strength and so on.
✓ Any type of exercise will help you expend calories and put your muscles to work in different ways.
✓ If you’re looking to increase your overall cardiovascular fitness and health, running, swimming and cycling are great forms of cardio which will benefit both your health and your body composition.
In terms of specific types of exercise and increasing overall athleticism, you may wish to perform a number of different types of training.
For example: if you wish to increase your muscle mass as well as your stamina, you should perform resistance (hypertrophy) exercises as well as cardio.
Tips For Building Muscle Mass
What you must remember if that each form of exercise will burn calories; meaning if you’re looking to put weight on, while gaining muscle as well as increasing your fitness… you’ll need to have a higher caloric intake to make sure you’re providing your body with the macronutrients it will need as a result of each type of training as well as your usual expenditure.
✓ One way you could go about this is by performing 4 days of hypertrophy work and 3 days of cardio.
You’ll be able to work out your TDEE by using a simple online calculator.
✓ I would recommend a surplus of 500 calories each day on top of each method of training; you won’t gain muscle while in a deficit or while just eating at maintenance.
✓ Also, by not performing the two different types of activity on the same day, you won’t have to worry about struggling to eat enough food in one day; you’ll also have a fairly steady quantity of calories to consume for the week with each day being similar.
✓ For those who have a bigger appetite, you could perform your cardio after your hypertrophy and have a higher intake on the days you perform your exercises in comparison to your rest days.
This would require you to calculate your TDEE on the days you train as well as the days you’re resting, so that you don’t over-indulge on your resting days.
How To Increase Overall Athleticism
If you’re looking to increase your overall athleticism by achieving a number of physical goals such as becoming stronger, faster, more aesthetic & improving your endurance; you’ll need to make sure you’re consistently training for each aspect!
Building Muscle & Strength
For those goals related to weight training such as increasing strength and hypertrophy, you could incorporate both powerlifting style training and resistance training into your plan, which is what I do 4 x per week.
Increasing Endurance Fitness
Similarly, for those goals related to speed, endurance and agility etc, you could perform different types of cardiovascular exercise such as LISS/HIIT/circuit training to target each aspect.
For example: you could create your own circuit including a sprint for speed, followed by an activity for agility, followed by a long distance piece of cardio for endurance.
Take Home Message
You must remember that if you’re looking to increase your muscle mass, you’ll need to eat in a surplus to your TDEE, and if you’re looking to become leaner, you’ll have to expend more calories than your TDEE through both physical activity and your nutrition.
It’s best to follow a routine when aiming to improve your body composition, as you’ll be more likely to consistently perform each type of training as well as eat the right foods on a daily basis. Knowing what you’re going to be doing beforehand is a lot less stressful as well, making you more likely to succeed.