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Your diet can help you to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, but your diet cannot build or keep your muscles. You can use body composition exercises to help you to maintain or keep your muscles.
What is Body Composition?
The proportion of bone, fat, and muscle in your body defines your body composition.
Your body composition can help determine whether you have a healthy weight.
Your weight on the scale cannot tell how much fat or muscle you have in your body. Your body composition can help you do that. The body fat of a fit woman should fall between 21% and 24%. That of a man should be between 14% and 17% (1)
Carrying too much body fat in your body, for example, can increase the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart problems.
Decreasing your body fat percentage can help change the size or shape of your body. In many cases, this could mean increasing your weight. The reason is that your muscle is denser than body fat and takes less space in your body.
Thus, building more muscles can mean your scale shows that you have put on weight. And only your body composition can help determine whether or not you are overweight.
What are the best body composition exercises?
Body composition exercises can help burn fat and build muscles. They can help replace body fat with lean, strong, and tight muscles.
Cardio as body composition exercises
One of the best ways to burn fat is through aerobic or cardio exercises.
Aerobic exercises can push your heart to work faster, making you expend more energy and burn more fat.
While cardio can be one of the most effective body composition exercises, riding a bike, for example, at a slow pace will not help you burn much fat. But HIIT can help you do that.
HIIT, or high intensity interval training, can jerk your body out of its complacency and help to burn far more calories.
How Interval Training Works
Interval training works by alternating the intensity of your workout. It can be effective in any exercise, whether running, swimming, cycling, dancing, etc. But, it is not an easy way out for couch potatoes because the length and intensity of your workout will determine the number of calories you can burn.
Interval training can be a great segway into developing a more challenging workout routine that can take beginning exercisers to more intermediate and advanced levels.
Many runners, in particular, are fond of interval training because it helps them reach higher speeds and longer distances with fewer injuries as their bodies acclimatize to the increasing interval of greater intensity and duration.
Why HIIT is one of the best body composition exercises
The science behind the effectiveness of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is quite simple. Alternating the intensity of your workout forces your body to exert more effort than it would if your fitness program focused on maintaining a steady pace.
The real key behind the extra calorie-burning you experience during interval training lies with how fast you can get your heart rate going and how quickly it recovers.
Heart rates that return to normal more quickly will burn more calories, according to health experts, and the more you practice interval training, the faster it will recover as it gets in better shape.
Although you may burn the same amount of calories in a regular fitness program, interval training excels in helping you to burn fat quickly because you can burn the same amount of calories as in those programs but in less time.
Interval training can result in a greater afterburn in which your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate, even after your fitness program is over and you have been resting for a considerable while. (2)
Interval training can cause your body to burn extra calories, even when idle. Who would not want that? Thus it is one of the most effective bodyweight composition exercises to include in your health plans.
As you continue doing your interval training regularly, you will become fitter and thus more able to complete the more challenging fitness programs that will lead to even more calorie-burning and faster weight loss.
The Role of Strength Training in Body Composition Exercises
HIIT can help you burn more fat, but you need strength training to help you build more lean muscle
Strength Training Builds Muscle Mass
The primary reason that strength training is so vital to body composition exercises is the fact that it builds muscle mass. Interestingly, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you can burn.
Strength Training Increases Endurance
Along with building muscle mass, strength training is instrumental in building the endurance necessary for fat-burning cardiovascular activities.
Any marathon runner can tell you that, to achieve the amount of endurance necessary to reach the pinnacle of their success, they had to build muscle in their legs. Weak leg muscles won’t carry you as far as you need to go, regardless of the condition of your legs and heart.
Best Body Composition Exercises
Achieving and maintaining your body composition may involve some lifestyle changes. But adopting those changes can give you good health and possibly, a longer lifespan.
Below are some top body composition exercises to help you achieve your fitness and health goals.
Dumbbell Deadlifts with a row
Deadlifts with a row is a compound movement that engages the upper and lower body. Deadlifts target glutes as they must move you up and down if you perform them properly. You want to ensure you have good form to enable you to hold the contraction throughout.
You will usually perform deadlifts with both legs on the floor, but you can go to single-leg deadlifts that force balance and stabilization as you progress.
Adding a row to the deadlift engages the upper body in the exercise to give you a full-body workout.
It is one of the best body composition exercises that can help you burn calories and build muscle simultaneously.
You will need a pair of dumbbells for the exercises. Check here for our recommended adjustable dumbbells if you consider getting one
Plank exercises are some of the best body composition exercises to include in your fitness regimen.
You need a strong core to enable you to hold the pose for a longer time the exercise has many benefits. The longer you can hold the pose, the stronger your core gets. Start by trying to hold a simple plank for about 30 seconds and then build up from there.
A strong core can help reduce back pain and help you go about your daily routines with ease.
It can help strengthen your spine and make it easy for you to do other demanding exercises like the deadlifts
You don’t need any equipment for the exercises so you can do them at any time and anywhere you find convenient.
You can make the pose challenging with some variations. You can add side planks, one-handed planks, and even add in toe taps during your planks.
Plie squats with bicep curls
It is a squat variation that will go deep into your leg muscles. You turn your toes out when performing this squat variation and you will notice the effect instantly.
The plie squats with bicep curls body composition exercise work the inner and outer thighs in a way like nothing else. You may struggle in the beginning, but it will be worth it if you stick to it.
Adding a bicep curl to the plie squat adds resistance and strength building to the movement. And you work your upper and lower body muscles together and well.
Plie squats with bicep curls are one of the body composition exercises that can help you build muscle mass and strength while burning calories.
Just like with standard squats, the exercise will target and build your leg muscles. Adding the bicep curls will help to tone the arms and other upper body muscles
Plie squats with bicep curls body composition exercises should be a regular fixture in your training regimen.
Dumbbell Lunge to Overhead Press
Lunges are good body composition exercises. But performing them alone will only get you so far.
Moving through a static lunge is challenging, but adding the upper arm movement is a great extra effort. When you get to the top of the lunge, you will move the arm behind you to focus on the tricep.
It is a more advanced movement because it requires balance and concentration. But it will help tone your lower and upper body muscles, help build muscle mass, and help burn calories. These are the qualities of good body composition exercises.
You can start without weights until you perfect the form, and then add the dumbbells for extra resistance. It is a great compound movement with the value that you need.
Jump squats may seem simple, yet they can be very effective if you do them with the correct form. It is one of the body composition exercises that can help build explosive power and strength.
It is a plyometric lower body exercise that combines cardio and strength training
Jump squats involve getting into the squat position and forcefully jumping vertically as high as possible.
Jump squats can help you reach full triple-extension of the knees, ankle, and hips. It can help boost your athleticism and get your heart pumping to help you burn more fat.
Jump squats can help strengthen your upper and lower body muscles, including your core, namely, your abs, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
Mountain climbers are explosive bodyweight exercises for building a strong and stable core, which can help improve your posture and running power.
You can either do the exercises very quickly as low-impact cardio or slow it down to target and stabilize your core and hip flexion. It can also target muscles in your back, arms, core, shoulders, and legs.
Thus, the exercise engages and works many muscles simultaneously. It can also help boost your strength, balance, flexibility, and balance.
You don’t need any equipment for the mountain climbers exercise. Thus you can do the exercise at your convenience. It is also very suitable for all fitness levels. They can be very handy when you are looking for a burst of cardio to support your strength training or workout.
Include mountain climbers in your body composition exercises for a total body workout and to help build strength and burn fat for a healthy lifestyle.
Renegade row, aka plank row, is a loose variation of the dumbbell row. It can help target your upper back and core. It can also help boost your balance and coordination.
You need a strong core for the exercise. Thus while it is accessible to everybody, you should be able to hold your core for the duration of the exercise.
The exercise involves getting in a plank pose and doing a dumbbell row with one hand while balancing your body on the other arm. Thus you should be capable of balancing your body on one arm while in the plank pose for about a minute.
If done correctly, the plank portion of the exercise can engage your abs, shoulders, spine, and hips. Adding the row helps you to target your arms and upper back muscles, including the rhomboids and lats.
The twisting motion involved in the renegade row helps to reduce the focus on your upper back but builds anti-rotational strength. Anti-rotational core strength plays a vital role in keeping your spine in alignment and reduces the risk of low back injury.
Include the renegade row in your body composition exercises to help you build muscle and burn fat.
Factors That Can Influence Your Body Composition
What you eat is critical for reaching your healthy weight. The following diet changes can play a role in your goal to achieve your ideal body composition.
Be Mindful of Your Diet
- Eat more fish: Fish is low in calories. It contains many nutrients that improve heart health. Aim to replace meat twice a week with fish. Pair the fish with fresh, steamed vegetables for a low-calorie and filling meal.
- Enjoy Low-fat dairy: Low-fat dairy can fill you up, making it less likely to overeat. A glass of milk with dinner, yogurt for lunch, and a cheese stick as a snack are easy ways to get more dairy.
- Indulge in broccoli: This green vegetable is full of fiber and can help keep hunger pangs at bay. It is also a great source of calcium. Add a cup to your lunch or dinner to reap the benefits.
- Grab some cabbage: The cabbage soup diet was popular in the 90s for promoting weight loss because cabbage is low in calories and has high water content. It fills you up without getting close to your maximum daily caloric intake. You can sautee cabbage to make a great side dish.
- Add some beans: Beans are a great way to get much-needed protein without worrying about excessive calories. You can eat them plain or toss them in salads, soups, and pasta dishes. Beans can also help suppress your appetite since they contain high levels of fiber.
- Eat an apple: Eating a whole apple helps to encourage weight loss in two ways: the chewing required to eat an apple sends signals that tell your brain that you are full, and apples are very high in fiber, a nutrient that fills you up.
Drink More Water
Water is one of the essential components of any weight management program. You are likely to overeat if you don’t drink enough water. That is because when you are thirsty, your body may start sending hunger signals instead.
Start your morning with a full glass of water and have a full glass of water before your three main meals of the day. That provides you with about half of the water that you need. Carry a water bottle with you to drink throughout the day.
Get Some More Sleep
Sleep is necessary for overall health, but it also helps you to lose weight. When you are tired, you often crave foods like simple carbohydrates and sugar. It is easier to stick to your healthy eating routine when you get a good sleep.
Good sleep also helps to supply the necessary energy to maintain your daily routines. Get between seven to nine hours per night to feel your best throughout the day.
Maintain a regular sleep/wake schedule and make sure your bedroom is comfortable and relaxing to get high-quality sleep.
Make Time for Exercise
It is necessary to get plenty of exercise.
Cardiovascular exercise should be part of your body composition exercises, but strength training is also necessary.
When you increase your lean muscle mass, your body naturally burns more calories throughout the day, leading to extra weight loss.
Do strength training three days per week with a rest day in between sessions. Include cardiovascular exercises at least five days per week to continue burning extra calories.
In addition to the exercises we have recommended, consider the following:
For strength training, you have a few options, depending on your preferences. Consider the following additional body composition exercises:
- Weight lifting
- Tricep dips
With cardio, you can choose among many activities. What is important is that you reach your target heart rate so that you can burn more calories than you are taking in.
The following are additional body composition exercises for cardio:
- Running or jogging
- Swimming or water aerobics
- Playing sports
You can mix them up and do a few of these activities throughout the week to prevent getting bored with your exercise routine.
Ensure you warm up and cool down before and after your body composition exercises.
Be Mindful of Alcohol Consumption
Having an occasional drink with friends is normal for many. But drinking several glasses of alcohol every day adds to your waistline.
It is also necessary to consider what you are drinking because not all alcohol is created equal.
Final words from LiveLIfe
Many factors come into play when trying to attain your ideal body composition.
While you need body composition exercises, it is only a part of a complex solution. Your diet and how you live your life can all have an influence.
We hope the list of suggestions and body weight exercises we have highlighted will go a long way to help you achieve a healthy lifestyle.
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- Muth ND. What are the guidelines for percentage of body fat loss?. American Council on Exercise.
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- Laforgia, J., Withers, R. T., & Gore, C. J. (2006). Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Journal of Sports Sciences, 24(12), 1247-1264
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- Domire ZJ, Challis JH. Maximum Height and Minimum Time Vertical Jumping. J Biomech. 2015 Aug 20;48(11):2865-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2015.04.021. Epub 2015 Apr 22.
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