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Body Composition Adaptations to Exercise

The majority of personal training clients train to alter their body composition - there is a very simple, clear message on this page with specific regard to clients wanting weight/fat loss.

One of the major reasons people exercise revolves around altering their body composition.  Usually this means reducing body fat, but increasing muscle mass is also common. 

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The good news is that any type of training that burns enough calories to tip the energy balance equation into calorie deficit will achieve this goal…as long as the exercise is repeated consistently enough for this adaptation to occur. 

The energy balance equation is a simple equation that states:

  1. If more calories are consumed than are used then weight gain will occur
  2. If more calories are used than are consumed then weight loss will occur
  3. If calorie intake = calorie expenditure then weight will remain constant


It is good for the exercise professional to know that any type of training that burns calories can help to achieve weight loss. 

This is because it means you can focus on helping people find the type of exercise (strength, aerobic endurance, speed etc) that best suits their capabilities, preferences and goals rather than provide them a textbook prescription or celebrity endorsed programme to follow, that may well suit that celebrity but yet be completely impractical for your client.


Muscle growth

For those wanting to build muscle mass (very beneficial for fat loss don’t forget...) the best training is hypertrophy training. personal%20training%20muscle%20gain

Hypertrophy training actually causes lots of microscopic tears in muscle fibers which the muscle adapts to by repairing and thickening (hence ‘growing’) the fibers (see neuromuscular adaptations re fiber size). 

The hormonal system is also key in the development of muscle size.  The release of growth hormone is greatest with hypertrophy training and this hormone along with testosterone (in males) is particularly influential in the development of muscle size

Strength training can also build muscle due to the influence of these hormones and the neuromuscular adaptations that result from heavy weight training (greater usage of fast twitch fibers, recruitment of greater numbers of motor units etc), although not to the same degree as the hormonal response from hypertrophy training, which is even greater.

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