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Fat-Burning Zone VS. High Intensity Interval Training

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If you’ve ever stepped on a treadmill to try to lose weight chances are you’ve scrolled through the variety of training programs and seen the fat-burning option. Well there you go! How easy can that be, right? Not so fast. That fat-burning option comes from the belief that if you train at 70% of your maximum heart rate you will be burning more calories from fat than any other source. Carbohydrates are the bodies first choice for energy stores when you are working hard. Your body doesn’t need oxygen to burn carbs (sugars) so when you are out of breath, as when sprinting, your body goes for the easiest source of energy it can tap. Next in the fuel line is fat. Your body needs oxygen in order to burn fat. If you are training above 70% you won’t have enough air to use fat as fuel. The final source of fuel is protein, which is your body’s lean muscle. If you are very lean it is important to monitor the amount of cardio training you do so that your body won’t use muscle as fuel.

Now you know how your body uses its resources as fuel. The alluring Fat-burning zone still sounds like a good choice. Consider the difference in body composition between a marathon runner and a sprinter. Sprinters are incredibly lean as a rule. If you stand at the finish line of marathon you will see participants of all sizes run through. If steady 70% max. pace was the best way to burn fat then why are the sprinters so much leaner? It’s true that while you are in the fat burning zone you burn nearly 50% of your calories in the form of fat, but you burn fewer calories overall.

High Intensity Interval Training is the most effective way to burn calories and drop pounds. When you train in intervals that bring your heart rate up to 85-90% of your maximum heart rate you become anaerobic. Your body is burning calories like mad. Now more of those calories are coming from carbs than fat. The ratio is around 65% carbs and 35% fat rather than 50/50. But if you can burn 500 calories in a 30min session of HIIT vs. 1 hr of “fat-burning” cardio where you’ve only burned 300 you can see the difference. You burn more calories in less time utilizing a HIIT method. As an added bonus HIIT causes an oxygen deficit which allows your body to burn even more calories after you have finished your cardio session. When you are doing intervals at 90% of your max you become out of breath. While you are recovering you are taking in large amounts of oxygen. You are now getting the oxygen you need to burn fat!

There are lots of HIIT routines that are effective for helping you shed pounds. My favorite program is the Tabata Protocol. The protocol was first developed by the coach of Japan’s olympic speed skating team. He developed a series of sprinting intervals that consisted of 8 cycles of 20 second sprints followed by 10 second rests. Dr. Izumi Tabata, Ph.D, a former reasearcher at Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya, and his team studied the effects of the coach’s techniques. In the Tabata study, the researchers found that participants who followed the protocol five days a week for six weeks improved their maximum aerobic capacity (your body’s ability to use oxygen) by 14% and it also improved anaerobic capacity (measures your speed endurance) by 28%. The more oxygen you can use the more calories your body can burn. A seperate study done by a group of scientists in Canada studied the effects of both low-intensity “fat-burning training” and the effects of the Tabata Protocol on overall fat calories burned. The Tabata participants used a 5 minute warm-up, 4 minutes of 20 second on/10 second off intervals followed by a 5 minute cooldown. The participants utilizing the Tabata protocol had a far greater overall calorie burn as well as a greater number of fat calories burned. They concluded that high intensity training raises the metabolic rate and causes you to burn more calories even if after your training session is long over.

Next time you set off to do your cardio forgo the “fat-burning” setting on the treadmill and go for some HIIT sprints instead. It will be the most productive 14 minutes you’ve ever spent!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AMYJO323 1/26/2010 6:02PM

    thanks for the info, nice blog!

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SPARKLEN10 1/26/2010 5:05PM

    you're welcome! and i think all of us have hit that extremely alluring fat-burn button! but ive seen myself and my clients drop pounds like nothing by keeping their focus on the intensity of their workouts! try it for a few weeks and let me know what you think!

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TERRACOOPER 1/26/2010 4:25PM

    Wow! I workout on a treadmill and this is really interesting information for all of us who are exercising to lose fat. Thanks for taking the time to post this! emoticon

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JEWEL524 1/26/2010 4:24PM

  This is awesome information. I am ALWAYS going for the "fat-burning" option on the treadmill. Thank you for sharing!

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Ladies, Let's LIFT!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Resistance training can be an intimidating subject for many women. There is a lot of misinformation floating around when it comes to weight training, but it is an essential part of leading a healthy and fit lifestyle. Let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions.

“Lifting weights will make me look big and bulky.” When many people think about women and weight training they often envision a woman tan, lean and bulging with muscles. Body-building is a sport of discipline and dedication. The female bodybuilder has to work twice as hard monitoring her nutrition, cardio and weight-training. Women just do not produce the levels of testosterone necessary to create massive bulky muscles. Many female bodybuilders take numerous supplements, some even take anabolic steroids to create the large muscles needed to compete. The point is there is no need to worry about turning into a muscle bound gorilla-woman.

Another whopper I’ve heard is the myth that when you stop working out all the muscle you have gained will just turn into fat. Totally false. Muscle and fat are two separate cells. Now it is true that when you stop working out the lean muscle you worked so hard for can atrophy. Muscle actually burns calories even when your body is at rest. Losing muscle negatively effects your metabolism making it easier to put on fat. However no form of physiological alchemy can turn muscle into fat.

Using resistance to try to "spot reduce” fat from a particular area of the body is probably the most common misconception. You may have tried to whittle away the fat around your middle by doing countless squats or racked up the reps of triceps extensions to get control of a “wing-flap” problem. When you are working out with weights you are toning the muscle underneath the fat. All those crunches may have given you a killer six-pack but until you blast the fat that is hiding it you will never see it.

The myths making the case for women to avoid weight training is omnipresent. The unique benefits that weight-training offers women aren’t as well known. Resistance training can do just as much to reversing osteoporosis and osteopenia as calcium supplements. With proper training and guidance weight training is enabling women to safely build stronger bones. Using weights in functional movement improves your balance and coordination thus reducing the risk of injury. Another benefit mentioned earlier is the fat melting effect that lean muscle has on the metabolism. Muscle gained by weight training boosts your resting metabolic rate allowing you not only to burn fat but keep it off as well. Lean muscle is the foundation of your metabolism.

Weight training is an important component in every woman’s fitness. If you are new to using resistance make sure you seek assistance from a qualified fitness professional. When performed in a safe and effective manner resistance training can take your fitness level to entirely new heights. So ladies, lets get out there and pump some iron!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NEWME0519 1/26/2010 1:05PM

    Great blog! Yes, this information bears repeating many times to the non-believers!

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TEENY_BIKINI 1/26/2010 10:15AM

    Great blog!! I love lifting - I have get back into that groove.


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AMYJO323 1/21/2010 10:50PM

    Thanks for the information! These are things that I know, but still need reinforced in my mind. Crazily still worry about "bulking" up even when I know that is silly! I've been doing strength training now for the last two months. Usually try and do my weights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Really feels good when I finish!!
This week has been kind of crazy with some family things and have been unable to get my Wed. course in and I feel like a slug. Can't wait to get into the gym tomorrow to pump some iron!!
Welcome to Spark!!

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