With the recent popularity explosion in the sports/fitness industry I am often confronted by the paradox of calorie burning for calorie burning sake! Would you buy a shipment of lumber to simply pile it up, set it on fire, and just watch it burn? No, you would build something with it, a house, a boat, a deck, something! So why are you spending hundreds of dollars a week on food? Food calories that can be used to build muscle, improve your immune system, create new cells for bones, eyes and brain, and then trying to get rid of them? Instead of focusing on building, your focus is on burning, I’m confused. If your focus is not on building, but rather reducing, then simply cut back on the building supplies, right? Oh, yea, that doesn’t work either. Hmmm, what a dilemma!
If you consider a calorie as simply a unit of energy (which it is) then regardless of whether you have just eaten the excess calorie, or whether you are attempting to reduce your bodyfat you would be far better served by performing an exercise that used the energy (or fuel) from that calorie to create or build the physique that you want! But…remember, the food can dictate the fuel burning ratio of fat versus protein versus sugar. Also, remember the acronym, F.I.T.T. (Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type). Exercise is not just calorie consuming, it also dictates the fuel burning ratio of fat versus protein versus sugar. Availability of oxygen, the very strong neurological signals sent to the brain during a particular exercise or activity, and the hormonal effect of the exercise determines whether you use those valuable, and expensive calories to build, or burn.
Here is the secret… ready?
Day after day, I hear a great deal about how “I do not want to get big and bulky.” So I avoid resistance training (weight training), and focus on fat burning cardio (i.e. walking on the treadmill, biking, or high intensity cardio like jogging, spin class) and while there is a place for fat burning cardio, it’s 2016, do I really need to explain this again? Ok, I will… just kidding. Where is fat burned? Fat is consumed in the mitochondria of oxidative tissues, also know as muscle.
Question #1 Who will burn more fat, an individual with 110 pounds of lean mass, or a individual with 90 pounds of lean mass? Simple arithmetic answers that, lean mass is where fat is burned, the more you got, the more you can potentially burn.
Question #2 What influences the fat burning within a muscle? How frequent, how intense and, how much time the muscle is under tension, and finally what type of exercise you are doing.
Let’s make this simple, your fat burning capacity is best served by utilizing a maximum voluntary contraction for the longest period of time. The amount of time that the muscle is under tension, with the appropriate amount of resistance . Rep sets in the 8 to 10 range, with the goal to reach temporary muscle failure on your last repetition has proven to work best. Our cardio is burst training, 3 times a week. (See Blog on Burst Training)
Long slow distance on a incline for 20-30 minutes at 65% of max heart rate can be performed 2-3 times a week, but if you are looking for the best bang for your buck, here it is, focus on muscle building,eating healthy, get your sleep, drink your water, and a healthy body will shed weight very quickly. Focus on getting stronger and healthier, and the fat loss will occur naturally.
Take Home points:
- You use the calories as energy to fuel a ‘muscle building’ workout.
- The very muscle that you created needs calories to maintain itself (even while you sleep) therefore negating the need for yet more cardio.
- You have empowered yourself with a whole new facet to your training and body… STRENGTH!
- You have begun to create the body shape that you desire, not just become skinny, but well defined and healthy.
- Pure cardiovascular training has it’s place, when used and performed correctly it plays an extremely important role in fitness and body condition, but it is FAR from the panacea of fat loss, body shaping, health and overall well being that is being falsely promoted to the masses!