By LL Cool J and Dave Honig with Jeff O’Connell, authors of LL Cool J’s Platinum Workout
I’m used to pushing it to the outer limits when recording new joints, but losing body fat to shape up isn’t an exercise in extremes; it’s a matter of balance. Do too much or too little of one thing and you may not lose body fat as quickly as you expect. To achieve the best results, practice the discipline of moderation. If you’re not seeing the results you want, consider that the reason may be one of the following, and use my personal quick fix to correct the problem in short order.
1. You’re adding muscle mass faster than you’re losing body fat. This is a best-case scenario — your program is working, but you just aren’t recognizing it. If the scales are giving you bad news, it could be because you’re increasing your muscle mass faster than you’re losing body fat. Muscle mass is heavier than body fat, and when your body starts to make this shift, it adds muscle mass more quickly than it sheds body fat. LL’s quick fix: All you need in this case is an attitude adjustment. Use your mirror, pay attention to how your clothes are fitting, and take the compliments you receive to heart. They’re all much better gauges of your success than a number on a scale. If everything seems to be pointing to success except the needle, ignore it.
2. You’re eating too much. If you’re committing this sin, you probably know it without my telling you more about it. If you’re going to lose body fat, you have to be in a calorie deficit. There’s a limit to how many calories you can burn by exercising each day, so you have to limit caloric intake to make sure you’re in a deficit. LL’s quick fix: One thing you may have noticed when you started this program is that your appetite increased. Channel that into opportunity: Emphasize healthy low-calorie foods such as vegetables and lean protein sources so that you can still consume a large volume of food without stuffing yourself full of unwanted calories. Satiety (that satisfied feeling from eating) can be achieved with fewer calories when you eat crunchy, low-calorie foods such as vegetables.
3. You’re not eating enough. “Enough” in this case may mean that you’re not eating enough calories, you’re not eating often enough, or both. If you habitually eat only a large meal or two a day, you may be undereating. Strangely, this can allow calories to be stored as body fat. When you eat a large quantity of food in a sitting and then neglect to eat for hours on end, your body tends to hoard the calories it doesn’t need from these infrequent meals as body fat. LL’s quick fix: To find success, eat fewer calories in a sitting, and eat more frequently. This may mean actually increasing the total number of calories you consume a day, but your body will be more inclined to burn them than to store them as body fat. Strive to take in up to six meals a day, distributing the number of calories you consume fairly equally from one meal to the next.
4. You’re not training enough. If you’re following the program as I’ve laid it out, you’re training enough. The only suggestion I can offer is to train with more intensity. If you’re not keeping up, but you’re doing what you can, then just keep going at your pace. Your results will come. On the other hand, if you’re skipping workouts because you’re busy or because you don’t feel like it, you’re just not going to achieve results that are as impressive as you want. LL’s quick fix: The first thing you have to realize is that you do have time to work out. Get in 15 minutes here and there each day. Make the commitment. That’s when you’ll see real results.
5. You’re training too much. This may be a shocker, but training too much, too hard, or both can undermine progress. Keep in mind that the workouts themselves tear down your body. You make progress and grow after training, during recovery. LL’s quick fix: If you are overtraining (see “Don’t [Over]Train in Vain” on page 190 for more on this), you may need to back off on your training volume or frequency. You should limit weight training to about 4 days a week, and you should include at least 1 — if not 2 — full rest days each week.
6. You’re not performing enough cardio. When you’re weight training, you’re jacking up your metabolic rate by encouraging calorie burning and adding muscle mass. Cardiovascular training (walking, jogging, running, or using any of the gym machines such as treadmills, bicycles, or stairclimbers) is also important for burning calories and ultimately for burning body fat. LL’s quick fix: Make sure that you perform as much cardio as the program prescribes.
7. You’re performing too much cardio. Many people think they can climb onto a treadmill and just keep moving until their body is perfect. That’s not the case. Performing an excess of cardio (either in intensity, frequency, or duration) can take your body over the edge into a state of overtraining, and it can burn muscle mass rather than body fat. Either way, your cardio actually can end up working against your goal of shedding body fat and adding lean muscle mass. LL’s quick fix: If you think this is the case, cut back on your cardio somewhat — either the length of sessions, the frequency, the intensity, or a combination of these variables.
8. You’re eating too many carbs. If you consume a high percentage of your calories from carbohydrates, you may be impeding your ability to shed body fat — and you may not be encouraging enough muscle growth if you’re simultaneously not eating enough protein. Carbs, especially sugary or starchy carbs, can make you feel sluggish and negatively affect your blood sugar. They can also encourage you to store body fat. LL’s quick fix: To avoid this problem, cut back on carbs in general, relying more on slow-burning sources such as oatmeal, brown rice, and yams, which have a less negative impact on your blood sugar levels. Particularly avoid consuming sugary and starchy carbs by themselves. These include sodas, pasta, white bread, and candy.
9. You’re not eating enough carbs (before and after you work out). Nutrition is complex and specific to each individual. You need to cut back on sugary carbs in general, but you want to include them before and after your workouts, when they will help drive nutrients into your cells. Pre- and post-workout, they deliver nutrients to your muscles, stimulated by your workouts, rather than to your body-fat stores. LL’s quick fix: Consume as many as 50 grams of simple carbs in the half hour both before and after you work out. (Check labels to see how large of a portion this equates to.)
Reprinted from: LL Cool J’s Platinum Workout by LL Cool J and Dave Honig with Jeff O’Connell.