How to Change Body Composition With Exercise


Your body is divided into two components: fat mass and fat-free mass. Fat mass consists only of fat while fat-free mass consists of several different tissues including muscle, bone, connective tissue, blood and internal organs. Ideally, your fat-free mass should far exceed your fat mass, however in cases of obesity, they can be equal to one another. While some fat mass is essential for your body to function, too much can be detrimental to your health. If you find yourself with too much fat and not enough fat-free mass, there are a few steps you can take to change your body composition with exercise.

Things You'll Need

  • Dumbbells
  • Barbells
  • Plate weights
  • Lift weights. Weight training is the most effective way to build muscle and change your body composition. Focus on exercises that target multiple muscle groups at once such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, thrusters and cleans. To build muscle, the National Strength and Conditioning Association suggests performing three to six sets of six to 12 repetitions using heavier weights. Do this three to seven days per week.

  • Perform cardiovascular exercise. Regular cardio will create a caloric deficit which will lead to fat loss. Choose modes of exercise that you enjoy and work most of the major muscle groups. Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming and elliptical training are all efficient choices. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that overweight adults get at least 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day to facilitate weight loss and prevent weight regain.

  • Fuel your body appropriately. Exercise will help significantly, but ultimately what you put in your mouth will be the determining factor in changing your body composition. Choose whole, fresh foods and lean sources of protein. Avoid eating more than you need. The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that moderately active men age 26 to 45 years eat 2,600 calories per day while moderately active women age 26 to 45 years consume 2,000 calories per day. If you are overweight or underweight, consult a physician or registered dietitian for guidance.

Tips & Warnings

  • Vary your workouts to ensure that your body is continuously challenged.
  • Aim for higher repetitions if you're using lighter weights and lower reps if using heavy weights.
  • Consider interval training during your cardio workout to increase your calorie burn.
  • Perform a five- to 10-minute warmup before your workout and a five- to 10-minute cool-down after your workout to prevent injury.
  • Thoroughly stretch each major muscle grouped worked after your workout, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
  • Consult your health care provider before beginning a new exercise program to ensure that you're healthy enough for physical activity.

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