Why anaerobic interval training is the best training method for fat loss

February 12, 2010

 

Have you ever wondered what the best , most time efficient wat to lose fat is?

Have you been told totally different things about what is the best training method for fat loss?

Read this article from Ultrafit Magazine and it will hopefully clear this issue up for you.

Commonly, interval training has only been used as a time efficient way to increase anaerobic fitness or sport-specific power endurance in the final weeks before competition. However, new research on interval training has shown it to be a very efficient method of fat burning.

Consider some of the following on steady state aerobic training and fat loss:

  • A 1996 study showed that the addition of 5 x 45 minute sessions of aerobic training sessions per week for 12 weeks had no effect on fat loss.
  • A 2007 study showed that 5 x 50 minute of aerobic training per week for 6 months had no effect on fat loss.
  • A 2008 study showed that 3 x 40 minutes of aerobic exercise per week for 15 weeks actually resulted in a fat increase!

 And now consider the following about interval/anaerobic training and fat loss:

  • A 1994 study actually showed that interval training reduced body fat by nine times more than traditional cardio training, despite using few calories during the session and taking less time.
  • A 1999 study showed that the addition of a resistance training program to fat loss increased its effectiveness by 35% over diet and purely aerobic training.
  • The same study showed that 3 x 50 minute sessions of aerobic training for 12 weeks (36 sessions) increased fat loss by only 450g over diet alone.
  • The rise in metabolism after anaerobic training (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption – EPOC) results in further calories being burnt for up to 38 hours after the finish of the session.

 

The indicators are clear: this type of information should go a long way in helping fitness professionals design and implement effective fat loss programs. It’s not the workout – it’s the effect of that workout on EPOC.

EPOC is defined scientifically as the “recovery of metabolic rate back to pre-exercise levels”. It can require several minutes for light exercise and several hours for hard intervals.

In layman’s terms it means you keep burning calories at an increased rate after a workout.

If you can imagine a big forest fire, you understand that it doesn’t just burn for an hour and then burn out – it gradually burns out so that over time there is no fire anymore. The peak of the fire may have been a long time ago but there are still flames being produced for a long time afterwards.

We call this the afterburn – metabolic disturbance – elevating EPOC to maximise calorie burn for the 23+ hours per day. Is there much of a real world effect of burning 300 calories per workout (e.g. aerobic work) if we don’t elevate EPOC??

If we could elevate EPOC even an apparently insignificant ¼ of a calorie per minute for the 38 hours that the study showed, then that 31 minute resistance workout would burn maybe 300 calories during the session plus the extra 570 calories over the next 38 hours. That becomes very significant.

In the past, fitness professionals and researchers have looked at how much fat is burned during the exercise session itself. This is extremely short sighted.

As American conditioning guru Alan Aragon said “Caring how much fat is burned during training makes as much sense as caring how much muscle is built during training.”

Think about that. If we looked at a weight training session that started at 9am and finished at 10am – how much muscle would we see built if we stopped at 10am? None.

In fact we’d see muscle damage. We could make the conclusion that weight training does not increase muscle – in fact it decreases muscle, right? It’s only when we look at the big picture – and look at the recovery from the session – that we find the reverse is true – weight training builds muscle.

Fat loss is the same way. Someone talking about the benefits of the “fat burning zones” or “fasted cardio” is a sure sign that the individual has stopped looking at the end of the exercise session. They have come to the conclusion that, lower intensity steady state exercise burns the most fat and made the massive leap of faith to suggest it’s the best for fat loss.

Using that same logic, these same people would suggest avoiding weight training if you want to grow muscle.

Take home message – focus on the afterburn, not just what happens during the exercise session

There is another, more subtle reason why intervals are superior to steady state training.

The body does the opposite.

If you don’t drink enough water your body will retain it. If you drink too much water your body will excrete it.

Article from Ultrafit Magazine

Issue 123 Jan/Feb 2010


Are you overweight? How do you measure up?

July 21, 2009

How do you know if you’re overweight? Are the scales really telling the truth? Yeah you might be overweight but is that because of lean muscle mass or because of fat?

The best way to find out how much fat you’re carrying is to conduct these 5 tests below and see if you fall into the healthy ranges in each test.

  1. Weight
  2. Girth measurements
  3. Waist circumference
  4. Body fat %
  5. Body Mass Index (BMI)

Weight – Most people use weight as the only test to determine their health. Unfortunately our scales can only tell us how heavy we are. We really need to know how much of our weight comes from muscle, bones, fluid and fat. However, weight is a starting point and will give an indicator of where you are at.

Girth Measurements – All you need is a tape measure for this one. You can measure many sites of the body but the main ones are waist, hips, chest and thighs. You can also measure your calves and upper arms. Remember to pull the measuring tape firm and keep it parallel to the floor. If possible take the measurements directly on your skin rather than over clothes. You can check these measurements every 3-4 weeks.

Waist circumference – This measure is an indicator of abdominal fat. A waist circumference above 94 centimetres for men, and 80 centimetres for women, is associated with a greater risk of health problems. Higher than 102 centimetres for men, and 88 centimetres for women is associated with serious health risks! An ideal waist circumference would be below 94 for men and less than 80 for women. Another measurement used to assess your risk of obesity-related disease is your waist to hip ratio. You get this by dividing your waist circumference by your hip measurement. For example, if your waist was 90 centimetres, and your hip was 100 centimetres, your hip to waist ratio will be: 90  100 = 0.9. Ideal waist to hip ratio is less than 0.9 for men and less than 0.8 for women.


Body fat % – The measurement of body fat consists of total fat throughout the body. You can use skin fold callipers or bio-electrical impedance scales to obtain this measurement. Leave room for error when using these methods but it will give you a fairly decent measure of where you are at in terms of body fat %. The distribution of body fat also needs to be looked at: fat stored around the abdomen is dangerous fat. It’s associated with a greater risk of disease, in particular heart disease; whereas fat stored around the hips and thighs is far less harmful.

CLASSIFICATION

MEN

WOMEN

LEAN

< 12%

< 17%

ACCEPTABLE

12 – 20.9 %

17 – 27.9 %

MOD. OVERWEIGHT

21 – 25.9 %

28 – 32.9 %

OVERWEIGHT

> 26 %

> 33 %

Body Mass Index – BMI is used as a general indicator of obesity. It’s used to define overweight, obese and underweight levels. To work out BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height squared. For example you weigh 100 kilograms and are 185 centimetres tall, the equation would be: 100 (1.85 x 1.85) = 29.2 (Overweight).

CLASSIFICATION

BMI

OBESITY CLASS

UNDERWEIGHT

< 18.5

NORMAL

18.5 – 24.9

OVERWEIGHT

25 – 29.9

OBESITY

30 – 34.9

I

35 – 39.9

II

EXTREME OBESITY

> 40.0

III

Remember BMI does not take into account muscle mass so ideally take all 5 of these measurements and see if they all point in one direction or not. If you’re not at where you want to be it’s time to start doing something about it. If you’re still not sure about your results or have any other questions, feel free to leave any questions or comments.


Setting goals works – how it can help your weight loss

July 15, 2009
Goal setting works! It’s as simple as that. It’s essential for anyone who wants to lose some extra weight no matter if its 5kg or 50kg you want to lose, goals are a necessity.
Here are some simple steps to planning and achieving your fat loss goals.

1. Write down your main goal. This is generally the total amount of weight or % of body fat you want to lose.

2. Give your number one goal a time frame. Setting a time frame is so important. Your time frame is predominately based around how much time and energy you can dedicate to reaching your number one goal. Ask yourself how important is achieving your goal to you on a scale of 1-10? From your answer decide how much time you can put towards achieving it.

3. Once you have your time frame you can break it up in to smaller goals. For example your goal is to lose 12kg in 3 months. You can set yourself smaller goals that are stepping stones towards your main goal. This may be ‘lose 1kg a week over the 3 month period’. By setting smaller goals that lead up to your number one goal you can monitor your progress and see what is working and what isn’t straight away.

4. Once you have your goals planned out on paper it’s time to do something about it. Get to the gym, sign up for a boot camp or exercise program, create a better eating plan, get out of the house more and do what you need to do to reach your goals! You need to make these lifestyle changes and stick to them for long term fat loss success.

5. The SMARTER your goal is the better!

Specific – the more specific your goal is the better. It gives you direction!

Measurable – you need to be able to know if you’ve achieved your goal. Lose weight isn’t a measurable goal. However lose 5kg in one month is very measurable.

Accountable – who is accountable for reaching your goals. 99% of the time you are!

Realistic – unrealistic goals will lead to discouragement. Not good for successful fat loss!

Time frame – decide on how long you will take to achieve your goal and stick to it.

Exciting – you should be excited about what it will be like when you reach this goal.

Recorded – record your progress somewhere that you see every day to keep you on track.

Whether it’s fat loss goals or any kind of goal using a method like this increases your chances of achieving it.


Cardio challenge – are you up for it?

July 13, 2009

Are you bored doing the same or similar cardio workout/s every week?

Are you finding that no matter how many times you program the “fat burn” option on the treadmill each week, you still see little or no results on the scales or in your figure?

Then maybe it’s time to try something different to mix up your training and leave the one dimensional approach to your training behind.

Think of your goals in your head right now. What is it that you want to achieve? Make sure your goals are achievable but challenging and if your goal is long term then try to break it up into smaller goals so you don’t forget what it is that you’re heading towards. The first step to achieving a goal is knowing what that goal is and writing it down!

This workout is not only physically hard but will also need you to be motivated so if you’re serious about achieving your goals then give this a try once or even twice a fortnight and see if your results are improving over each fortnight. Make sure you record your score in each section and then calculate your total score at the end. Your total score is a measurement of YOUR fitness – who needs to be compared to the population or anyone else?! This result is the benchmark that you’re going to measure off and see the improvements.  If your score is improving fortnightly or even monthly then you will see and feel the results.

You will need a cross trainer and a rower (keep in mind you could use any piece of cardio equipment). It’s also important you do light total body warm up + dynamic stretch before commencing the challenge as you’ll need to be ready right from the start.

OK, here it is!

1. Cross Trainer – complete 3000 metres – record your time

1 minute change over time

2. Rower – complete 1500 metres – record your time

1 minute change over time

3. Cross trainer – complete 2000 metres – record your time

1 minute change over time

4. Rower – complete 1000 metres – record your time

1 minute change over time

5. Cross trainer – complete 1000 metres – record your time

1 minute change over time

6. Rower – complete 500 metres – record your time

Total distance = 9000 metres

Make sure you calculate your total time and use this figure as your bench mark and look to use your training to improve on the initial result. There are also many variations to this challenge. You could use a bike or treadmill instead but I’ve chosen the rower and cross trainer because you get a better total body workout and make the most of your time in the gym.  You also have the option of varying distances and change over periods to suit your current fitness level. Whatever you do just make sure you do it the same each time you test it otherwise you’ll find it hard to know how much your improving each time. (This also means using the same levels each time. For example: rower on level 10 and cross trainer on level 12)

It’s always good to follow a tough workout like this with some light exercise and a good quality passive or static stretching routine for the whole body.

Feel free to let me know how you go with it, even send in your best time and any other great cardio workouts or ideas you have or use.

Enjoy!