One of the most frequently posed questions dealing with fitness pertains to the relationship between exercise and the eventual results. Included in those questions are: How long will it take? How much do I have to do? What's the best exercise for losing fat "here"? How do I put some muscle on "there"? How can I get definition so my muscles will become more visibly apparent?
All of these subjects really deal with the same issue: How do I make exercise produce the results that I'm seeking and what is the cost in time and effort? The answer lies in understanding some of the general principles of exercise and in the application of a personally practical plan.
Any physical activity elicits some response by the brain and to the degree that some adaptation or change is healthy, it is stimulated. In simple terms, progress is made when the brain decides that the body will be better able to handle chronic stresses (habitual exercise) by increasing some capabilities. Those physical capacities include increased strength or muscle tone, increased endurance, enhanced ability to utilize fat and a number of other specific adaptations. In effect, almost all of the aspirations of the exerciser can be generally categorized as directly related to the extent to which these capacities are changed.
Once these relationships are understood the individual exercisers must organize their objectives and develop a plan of action which will most reasonably stimulate the brain to "order" the body's systems to respond and "change". Sometimes the specific plan becomes complicated but generally some basic principles can be applied quite successfully.
Probably the most universally desirable responses to exercise deal with the alterations of body composition. For a basic review, body composition is the designation of the total body weight divided into two categories: fat weight and lean weight. Most exercisers want to reduce their fat weight and increase or at least maintain their lean weight.
If one were to review some of the more universally common goals stated previously, i.e. "losing fat", gaining muscle" and "seeing more definition" it would be easy to see that all of these involve changing body composition. Logically the question arises concerning the best way to accomplish this common objective. In general, the formula is simple.
Remember, one's body "carries" fat and muscle (lean tissue) as a result of genetic predisposition (an unalterable variable) and lifestyle behaviors. Since we can't change our parents we can't concern ourselves with that which we can't control. However, our chronic behaviors and activities provide a substantial arena for inducing positive body changes. In addition, many scientists have concluded that most of us will "wind up" looking very much like our parents concluding that the genetic factor is so absolutely influential. However, it must be understood that most of our parents never had the opportunity or information currently available to most of us concerning the productive application of exercise and other lifestyle changes.
At this point in the state of the science and art of fitness and exercise one can never assume that one is genetically "doomed" to live in a body that is not more attractive and fit. The realistic hope lies in the fact that very few individuals manipulate the available tools of aerobic exercise, muscle training and sensible nutrition very effectively in their quests to attain their objectives.
The best advice is to have a trained professional ascertain your body composition accurately and repeat the process periodically. Next, establish your short term and long term goals. Lastly, with your input and the advice of a knowledgeable advisor, develop a simple regimen incorporating aerobic exercise at least three times a week in addition to some muscle training two or three times per week; add a sound diet plan and you're on your way.