Every single day I walk into my gym, and I see people tearing it up on the treadmills, elliptical, spin bikes, etc., and they love it! I don’t blame them; at least they are exercising. Most of the people on these pieces of equipment are people that I am probably safe in assuming are attempting to lose some amount body fat. Forever people have been told that if you want to lose weight you need to exercise and more specifically you need to do “cardio!” We are constantly bombarded by ads on TV of good looking, in-shape models that are running (shirts are optional) as if running is the only exercise on the planet that gets you to look lean and muscular. If you ever want to take your shirt off in public, YOU HAVE TO START RUNNING! This is a big, fat lie! Running yourself into the ground whether it be on the pavement, on a treadmill, elliptical, or whatever method you use to constantly do the same thing over and over thousands of times in a row is not the only way and definitely not the best way to burn fat, build muscle, look long, lean, and sexy. In fact you aren’t going to build much muscle if any at all if all you do every time you come to the gym is run or do some type of exercise at a steady state and low intensity. The following are some lessons that I learned from a Alwyn Cosgove lecture. Alwyn is a fat loss expert and he owns and runs a gym called Results Fitness. He is the man when it comes to this stuff and he presents a pretty cool paradigm shift that people need to embrace:
- When it comes to bicycle kicking fat in the face like Lou Kang from Mortal Combat, the hierarchy of fat loss starts with NUTRITION! Don’t for one second think that you will be able to out run and out spin and out elliptical all the bad food that is going down the hatch. The old saying of not being able to program to counter act a bad diet is very true. Solid nutritional habits are extremely important when it comes to really getting serious about shedding some of the undesirable fat. In April of 2011, a study was published that compared 439 obese, post-menopausal women split into 4 groups. There was a control group, meaning they went on living their normal lives. There was a DIET ONLY group. There was a EXERCISE ONLY group. There was a DIET PLUS EXERCISE GROUP. The results showed that the diet plus exercise group lost the most fat (10.8%). Most of that fat lost in the diet plus exercise group came from the dieting because the diet only group lost 8.5% without exercising. That means that exercise alone is not as effective and exercise alone only contributed to fat loss with 2.4%.
- The second level coming down from nutrition: I’ll reiterate to show the importance and there isn’t a better way to say this than just see number 1!
- When it comes to exercise this is the part of the hierarchy that is where the majority of people miss the boat—completely. People that are able need to drop the endless days of walking and running on the treadmill and start doing work out routines that not only burn calories but also MAINTAIN/PROMOTE MUSCLE MASS, and ELEVATE METABOLISM.Resistance training is the corner stone of fat loss. Incorporating weight training into interval workouts with incomplete rest periods will burn calories, build muscle and in return elevate metabolism. More muscle mass will raise resting metabolism. Roughly 60% of calories burned are burned through our resting metabolism! So it would make sense to want to elevate that level.
- Next, if you are extra dedicated to dropping some dress sizes or jean sizes then adding in some days of exercise that will burn calories and elevate metabolism is the next most important kind of exercise. Are we seeing a little bit of a trend? Burning calories is not the only thing that is important for burning fat! So exercise such as high intensity anaerobic, interval training would be the kind of exercise you would want to add in if you had more time to train throughout the week. This kind of exercise would include sprint intervals on some stationary bikes, or doing some high intensity sled pushing and pulling. So very fast paced and short durration exercise.
- Now we are starting to move back towards your precious aerobic training, but only if you have more time to continue the brutal beat down on adipose tissue (fat) we have already been giving it throughout the week. Exercise that burns calories but doesn’t necessarily maintain or build muscle or elevate metabolism is next in the pecking order. There are two kinds of exercise in this category that are separated by intensity. What kind of intensity would be more important to the people with goals of getting into the jeans they haven’t been in since high school? You guessed it! High intensity aerobic training! That means we need to be up around our anaerobic threshold or at least 75% of HRmax.
- So what modality of exercise has been left out until now? The saying last but not least does not apply because in fact it does the least when fat loss is the goal. The last thing we want to do or at least the kind of exercise we don’t prioritize FOR FAT LOSS is low intensity aerobic training a.k.a. you precious “cardio.” Only if you have a ton of time to dedicate to training you should mix in some low intensity cardiovascular work. The extra calories that are burned through 45 to 60 minutes of low intensity cardio will definitely help weight loss after all the more important things like good nutrition and lifting heavy stuff. The low intensity cardio will also help with some recovery as well as cause eccentric hypertrophy of the left ventricle. WHAT?! That basically means more blood will fill into the heart and then pump more oxygen to your muscles with fewer beats so that they are better at kicking ass for the resistance training.
Ok, ready? Set? Commence the beat down of adipose tissue Lou Kang style now!