So you may have read my other articles and decided to start weight training– great! You head to the gym, look at the dumbbell rack and realize you have no idea where to start – not so great! In my opinion this usually leads women to head straight to the 3-4kg dumbbells and start doing some bicep curls or lat raises – you want toned arms right so why not!?
You may have heard me talk about compound exercises in my previous articles. This refers to an exercise that uses multiple muscles at one time (think a squat using your glutes, hamstrings and quads for example) vs a calf raise which only uses your calves.
When your primary goal is fat loss you want the majority of your weight-training to be these compound exercises. Don’t get me wrong, isolated exercises have their place in the gym, that is for experienced bodybuilders who are looking to make more refined changes to each individual muscle. The problem for less experienced gym goers is believing these exercises will help you hit your fat loss goals. There are a number of reasons why this may not be the case:
- Not Targeting As Many Muscle Fibers
Your goal is fat loss – therefore you need to build muscle (see mistake number 1 article). The more muscle fibers you can recruit the bigger the chance of fat loss. For example look at a bicep curl vs. a chin-up. The bicep curl works yep, you guessed it, your bicep. Where as the chin-up is going to work not only your biceps but the majority of your back muscles (lats, traps, rhomboids etc), your shoulders, and also your core. Now if you were heading to the gym which exercise do you think is going to give you better results?
- Not as Effective in Producing The right Hormones
So back to those two hormones again. Growth hormone and testosterone are our two prime hormones for helping us build muscle and lose fat. Therefore when we train we want to focus on exercises that provide the greatest release of these hormones – which isolated exercise won’t do. The more taxing the exercise is on our body the greater the release. Have a think about when you last did an arms workout, did you sweat compared to when you did your last legs workout? No, thought not!
Unless you are an experienced athlete when performing an isolated exercise is it hard to keep the level of intensity up as that one particular muscle will easily fatigue. So you may be able to perform two sets of bicep curls on 4kg but by the 3rd set are too fatigued and need to drop to 3kg – not ideal. Because compound exercises are distributed over many muscle groups it is far easier to keep up the level of intensity. For example if you have 4 sets of squats at 50kg you are more likely to maintain or increase this weight vs a leg extensions where you may end up dropping weight by the last set.
My own training is focused on big ‘bang for your buck’ compound exercises. This is the same for my clients. Not only do I stay lean, I have abs (without doing ANY ab exercises).
But I know…you still want to get rid of that flab on your arms right?! Trust me! It isn’t possible to ‘spot reduce’ in one area. You can do as many bicep curls as you want but Unless your training targets a positive hormonal response to help create a caloric deficit, you may build up that bicep or triceps, but it is very unlikely you will lose the fat layered over the top, hence not helping much in terms of definition.
OK you hear me….but you’re still standing in the gym looking at the weights not knowing exactly what to do. Here’s a list of some great exercises to start with; every single one of my programs incorporates my top 4:
- Bench Press (incline, decline, flat)
- Chin Ups
You can then add in accessory work such as:
- Barbell Rows
- Pendalay Rows
- DB Bench Pulls
- Step Ups
- Military Press
- Push Press
If you are ready to take the next step in your training, contact us to see how we can help you achieve your goals.
Other Articles in the series: