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Teaching Your Body To Be Lean

Teaching Your Body To Be Lean

“Being lean is not normal in today’s society. This means you need to do things that normal people don’t do.”

I bet, the first time you tried to ride a bike you fell off. Every time for a good few weeks. I bet it continued until you taught your body, exactly what to do. Just like teaching your body how to ride a bike, we need to teach the body to be lean. In today’s society, being lean is not the norm. So we have to often do things those normal people don’t do.

“Being lean is not normal in today’s society. This means you need to do things that normal people don’t do

Michael Roussell, PhD

It’s common knowledge that jogging is the best method for fat loss…. Or is it?

Let’s take a look at who does the most jogging/cardio. Marathon runners. What do they look like? Bony and unhealthy. Compare the bodies to those of sprinters. What do they look like? Muscular, shredded and not a meter run over 100!!

Jog or Sprint?

I often get asked why I don’t include steady state cardio (treadmill, cycling etc.) as the main tool for fat loss in my programs. It relates simply, to the SAID principal. SAID stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand and is normally attributed to exercise and movement patterns. We can also apply this to our training philosophy.

Effectively, when you run (read jogging) the body starts to adapt! Running will increase your aerobic fitness. You’re telling your heart to become bigger and stronger. The cardiovascular system improves blood flow, the muscles become more efficient at long duration exercises. These are all adaptations to the body imposed by the demand of running. There is no doubt that these are all great benefits of exercise without even looking at any fat loss.

However, what are the other effects? You’re also telling your body you don’t need to be powerful. You don’t need to be explosive. You’re effectively teaching your body not to be strong. So the body adapts! It will lose that muscle needed to remain powerful and drop the muscle it needs to be explosive. Jogging simply doesn’t require a great deal of muscle mass. This adaptation is bad, especially for fat loss.

Not only are muscle mass and strength are the best indicators of long term health, but by losing muscle you are decreasing your resting metabolic rate. Muscles require calories at rest, which means they need to be fed. So at rest, they are burning calories. This is excellent for fat loss!

How do we keep the muscle?

Effectively we keep muscle by using it! Specifically, using heavy weights!! Now the sprinters I mentioned do not only sprint frequently over short distances with high intensity, they also lift a lot of weights! Cleans, presses, squats and other powerful movements which require strength and speed!

My Old Friend Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, 100m sprinter

This tells the body..

I need you to be quick. I need you to be powerful. I need you to be strong. You’re telling your body that it MUST have muscle, it must decrease body fat if you want to move quickly, it must be explosive! This teaching of the body to store muscle and decrease fat levels, is effectively programming our bodies to be lean. It’s also important to note I haven’t even mentioned anything about dieting (negative terminology) in this context of building a lean physique. We’re looking to improve (positive) speed, power and strength. Combine these powerful quick movements with nature’s food and you start to build yourself a lean muscular physique.

What do we eat?

Mother Nature provides a large dose of nutritional food. Omnivores by design, humans do well to eat both plants and animals. In fact, Dr Natasha Cambell-McBridge author of the GAPS Diet, refers to the two food groups as cleansing foods (all plant based foods) and building foods (meat and their fats). Both are important in teaching your body to be lean.

Balancing meals with plant based and animal based foods fuel the body specifically for leanness. If you want to perform like a powerhouse you need to eat the correct nutrients. Nutrient dense foods such as eggs, steaks, liver, raw milk, avocades, ripe fruits and colourful veggies will help you on your way to the lean body you require.

Final Thoughts

Eating real food that doesn’t come in a packet and is not cover in oil will get you leanest the quickest!

Remember that the body will adapt to imposed demand. Jogging is fine if you’re training for a marathon. However, if you’re training to look like a spartan, start sprinting and using heavy weights – and for god’s sake, stop jogging on the treadmill


Photo Credits

Unknown, (2009), Sprinting Loughborough [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 14 January 13].

Unknown, (2011), Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Roasted Tomatoes and Sweet Potatoes [ONLINE]. Available at:[Accessed 14 January 13].

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