I find that exercise and fasting go hand in hand.
The most frequent question that I get is, “What exercise routine should I do?
I always answer this question with the same reply, “What are your goals?”
It is important to understand that we are each unique. Our goals, expectations, and ideals are as varied as the individual making this choice. It is tempting to look at your next-door neighbor and think, “I want to do what he/she is doing!” Please bear in mind that their program may not achieve your goals.
So aside from that, what is the best program for you…
First, a program that you can stick with is the first criteria you should search through. Often this begins with the question to self How many days a week can I commit?” If you can commit 3 days, then don’t look at plans that require 6 days a week in the gym. These plans will frustrate you, making success more complicated.
Second, what is the primary goal that you hope to achieve. This is a difficult question for someone starting out. You want to be lean and fit, and more muscular and have stamina and low bodyfat. None of these are bad things at all. Something has to be the primary goal here so that everything else can fall in line. Those of you looking to reduce weight, I will warn you upfront, fat loss should be a primary goal. Here is a common conversation that I experience.
“What is your primary goal?”
I want to lose weight and get strong!
“Ok, which is more important to you right now?”
I want to do both at the same time…
“I understand and acknowledge this. Everyone wants that. If you have to choose one, which is the most important to you?”
This is where the conversation shifts.
I really want to lose weight I just don’t want to lose all my muscle.
OK Bob, you haven’t been to the gym in two years. Muscle retention hasn’t been a goal. I recommend that we focus on dropping the bodyfat and tailor your routine/ diet to achieve this. As you drop body fat you will be exercising and muscle will be more visible. With the goals you are telling me, I feel like this is what you are looking to have a lean physique. Is that accurate?
I’m going to have Bob, and you if this scenario fits you, to begin fasted workouts. We will find a program that fits your commitment level so that you are lifting and/or doing cardio in a fasted state. Once you achieve your ideal weight, we will modify to reach any new goals that you have developed.
I have a powerlifting meet next month, I can’t lose any strength. I’d like to gain strength if possible. I’m also hoping to cut weight but being strong is the most important.
Ok Jan, you are looking at this competition. You will be working on strength. You likely already have a routine. It won’t hurt to look at this routine just to be sure that fasting isn’t going to affect you. We will mostly be trying to fit fasting into your current strength plan without causing interruption.
Jan is not going to do heavy routines fasted. There are usually 2-4 heavy days per week depending on the program. Feeding well before and after these routines will be instrumental in Jan’s success in her meet. There are other activities that we can implement, (such as fasted cardio, and HIIT routines on off days) that can address the weight-loss without affecting strength gains, if managed properly.
I want to do a marathon.
Ok Alex, how long until this Marathon? For the purpose of conversation let’s assume the Alex has at least six months to prepare. We have several priorities to consider with training for such a long endurance activity. You need to train often enough to improve, without over training and risking injury. At the same time, you need to fuel adequately for your body to recuperate, without consuming so much that you gain weight. Ideally, we will be burning through a lot of body fat.
Alex is going to be doing a lot of fasted runs. If schedule allows, there will be some lifting as well. Alex is not lifting the same as Bob and Jan here. Strength is less of a priority and has taken a backseat to endurance and mobility. As Alex gains endurance the runs will increase on a set schedule. An important factor here is not jumping too fast too quickly. The non-running workouts could be fasted or fed depending Alex’s starting points and secondary goals.
There will be many scenarios that may include some mixture of these goals, or completely different goals that these neglect. My main purpose is to get you thinking about what you hope to achieve primarily. With this, keep in mind that Tommy at work could be training for a bodybuilding competition. If that’s not a goal for you, then his workout routine is probably going to fall short of your goals.
Keep and open mind. Ask questions. Let me know if I can help.