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

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How to boost your training performance and get results

August 11, 2009

It seems like a real waste to do all the hard work, like getting to the gym, training hard, or going for a long run or cycle, and not getting the best rewards you could be for your hard work. Everyone would love to get the best results possible from their hard work and there are a lot of products going around all with various claims of how much they can help you. Knowing how beneficial they are is the hard thing and sometimes you’ll try many different products and combinations before knowing what is best for you. I was reading an article in a magazine and thought I would share some of the information.

Whey Protein

Protein has certainly become a major player in weight management, muscle building and recovery. More importantly however while research has shown eating a little more protein can be beneficial, research into whey protein has shown some rather solid results especially when it comes to preserving lean muscle mass as well as building it. Why? Protein from whole foods, while beneficial and still integral to a healthy balanced diet, take many long hours to digest. Whey protein, the left over product from cheese manufacturing, is ‘pre-digested’ and 8-10 grams can be absorbed. What’s special about whey protein is that it contains a high level of branch chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. These escape digestion in the liver and are transported straight to the muscles. The benefits are bigger muscles, a decrease in muscle loss and even appetite suppression and weight/loss maintenance.

There are many variates on the market. Find one that tastes good, has high protein content and fits your budget. Whey protein taken straight after a workout, in between meals or even as a snack will yield the best results, especially at two doses a day. You don’t need to over do the dose size. 15-30 grams each dose would be sufficient.

Creatine

How does creatine work? More ATP in muscles means more energy to lift weights, so rather than getting 8 repetitions in a set you may get 10-11. After your first set ATP has been used up therefore you’re left with ADP which isn’t much use when you have another few sets to complete. More creatine means more ATP because phosphate is donated to ADP to produce ATP. Supplementation of creatine in the diet means there is an increase in the amount of creatine in muscle. This means the next set rather than getting 7 repetitions without supplementation; you would most likely get 9-10 repetitions. What this means is greater training intensity, and therefore more lean muscle mass.

What type of results can be expected?

Specific improvements are;

  • Short-term creatine supplementation has been reported to improve maximal power/strength (5-15%)
  • Work performed during sets of maximal effort contractions (5-15%)
  • Single effort sprint performance (1-5%)
  • Work performed during repetitive sprint performance (5-15%)
  • Long-term creatine supplementation appears to enhance the overall quality of training, leading to 5 to 15% greater gains in strength and performance.
  • Nearly all studies indicate that “proper” creatine supplementation increases body mass by about 1 to 2 kg in the first week of loading.

Summary

There are numerous products on the market; however whey protein and creatine have consistent sound evidence behind them to support their use. The best way to use these is to find products and doses that work best for you. This is a trial and error process and may take some time but is very beneficial in the long-term.


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.


The importance of fitness testing

July 15, 2009

Fitness tests allow us to identify physical strengths and weaknesses and also monitor increases and decreases in specific components of our fitness. Conducting a fitness assessment allows us to create a program that is suitable for our clients. Without fitness testing how would we know if we were neglecting weaknesses and only improving on what are already our strengths? How would we know if the program we designed is working if we didn’t test our fitness components regularly?

The answer is we wouldn’t know. Without any proper testing in the right environment it’s near impossible to tell. How can we tell if a client has lost body fat if they do both cardio and resistance training? They may get discouraged by looking at the scales at home thinking I’ve put on weight, I’m failing. They may not realise that they’ve put on some lean muscle mass and decreased their body fat %. This is just another reason why testing is so important.

It doesn’t just show that you are doing a good job and have the ability to help people improve their fitness. It shows and motivates your clients to keep working hard because they know that when they do they achieve the goals they set themselves.

When should we test?

Testing should be done regularly, whether it’s done every 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, whatever you do don’t leave it longer than 8 weeks! If you leave it too long clients can get off track and don’t know how they are traveling and if you make it too short they may get discouraged by not achieving much as you leave little time for the body to change. You need to keep them focused and I prefer to test on a monthly basis, anywhere between 3-5 weeks I think is good because it gives your clients time to improve on their previous set of results.

What should I test?

Keep the tests specific to the client’s goals. Not much point doing a VO2 max test on someone who just wants to increase their lean muscle mass. It’s a waste of your time and theirs. It would be better to stick to muscular tests and measurements and body composition tests. There are plenty of tests for particular components of fitness out there. You just need to have a look around.

Are there any areas you don’t know how to test?

What time frame works best for you when it comes to regular fitness tests?

Feel free to let me know.