There’s a common mistake about workouts for fat loss that may be holding you back.
It’s particularly insidious because it is also a rational mistake!
The assumption behind it is that what you should do during fitness exercise to burn as much fat as possible. If so, it follows that you should try to burn fewer grams of proteins and carbs and to maximize burning grams of fat.
From this perspective it appears that moderate intensity exercise is superior to either low intensity exercise of high intensity exercise. Why? While only 3% the energy used in high intensity exercise and 15% of the energy used in low intensity exercise comes from fat, a whopping 55% of the energy used in moderate intensity exercise comes from fat.
This is the thinking behind the common recommendation for fitness workouts for fat loss, namely, that your target heart rate should be about 60 to 65% of your maximum heart rate, which is the zone for moderate intensity exercise.
Although the reasoning used is valid, since the initial assumption is incorrect, the recommended conclusion does not follow.
In fact, do not burn mostly fat during workouts for fat loss!
This is counter-intuitive. Why not?
It’s because it’s false that what you should be trying to do is to burn as much fat as possible during workouts for fat loss. Instead, you should be trying to burn as much fat as possible all day long.
The best way to do this is to use high intensity exercise every other day or three times weekly. 95% of the energy burned in high intensity exercise comes from carbohydrates.
Any high intensity activity must be brief. According to Al Sears, M.D., all you need is 12 minutes of intense exercise three times weekly.
That seems to me about right. The way to train (or work) well is always to have short bursts of focused exertion followed by sufficient rest and recovery.
Low intensity or moderate intensity workouts for fat loss do not increase the reserve capacity of your cardiovascular system. Only sufficiently intense exercise does that.
The greater your reserve capacity, the greater your capacity to get more oxygen quickly into the cells of your body. Since heart attacks are caused by a sudden increase in cardiac demand that cannot be met, the greater your reserve capacity, the lower your chances of suffering a heart attack.
This is why I have recommended GXP (graded exercise protocol) fitness workouts for years. The important idea behind them is to sustain your heart rate at 80 to 85% of maximum for a few minutes two or three times weekly. This is the way to increased cardiovascular fitness.
I have also recommended for years brief, intense strength training two times weekly. These are the kinds of workouts that will both make your fitter and increase your lean muscle mass.
If you regularly operate at moderate intensity, precisely because you are burning fat, you are teaching your body to store fat so it will have fuel for your next bout of exercise! That is the opposite of what you want.
As you improve your percentage of lean muscle and increase your level of fitness, it’s also important to eat a natural diet. As I explain in my new book Real Overeating Help [available from Amazon], these are three of the six steps needed to undermine food cravings and achieve a lower percentage of body fat in a natural, lasting way.
So don’t waste time with long, boring cardio workouts. Train the right way using workouts for fat loss that really work.
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