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Saturday, January 22, 2011

This is the title of a great song recorded by Frank Sinatra but it has little application to weight control and fitness. People who attempt to lose weight or get fit in “their” way are flying in the face of reality in my opinion. Just as the mantra “an experiment of one” it has some limited validity. That validity is about how each will develop the proper mental attitude and make the commitment to follow though with a programme however it is not valid for self selection as to method. The research has been done multiple times, peer reviewed and proved by application with everyday people in a non laboratory setting.

In the formula to lose weight the primary requirement is to control nutrition (diet), the second requirement is strength building exercise and the third requirement is cardiovascular exercise. Nutrition is 80% of the formula and exercise is only 20%, the mantra being you can not out exercise a bad diet.

To accurately assess exercise calorie consumption requires measuring oxygen uptake in a laboratory during exercise. Using a heart rate monitor or something built into an exercise machine results in using “guesstimates” rather than accurate readings since the algorithms used to assess it have a plus or minus validity factor. For the everyday evaluation of calories in the diet it is best to use the calorie values assigned to the foods consumed in the portion sizes cited. Calories count but count those in and not out if you want accuracy.

The numbers between our toes on a scale measure only the force of gravity on us and give no assessment of our level of fitness based on our body composition, the percentage which is muscle and the percentage which is fat. Muscle is denser than fat which can negate the scale reading when we increase muscle at the expense of body fat and shrink in size. Measurements are the best evaluation tool to use to monitor loss of body fat. Using before and after pictures will also demonstrate progress since we see ourselves everyday we do not note the gradual changes as they occur.

Muscle is the foundation for everything our body does when it comes to function. Muscle requires more fuel to perform it duties which correlates to the better your muscularity is the better your basal metabolism is meaning you use more calories just sitting around doing thumb presses on the remote. Improved muscularity helps to prevent injury by strengthening tendons and ligaments for women strength work increases bone density. The better your muscle function is the more efficiently you can move which means your ability to exercise is improved. Improved ability to exercise results in the ability to handle more intense exercise resulting in better quality and less time spent working out. Better muscle leads to better workouts in less time which creates a win win. Strength workouts continue to consume calories after the workout ceases which is called afterburn.

Steady state cardiovascular exercises improve your heart, lungs, circulation and over time your endurance. While they use calories the moment you cease the exercise that increase calorie use ceases meaning no afterburn. The exception to the no afterburn with cardio is doing interval cardio of some form. The anomaly is that the training effect occurs after the exercise not during it and with interval work the recovery intervals are when the training effect occurs as the body responds to repair and replace.

What all of this means is that the formula for success is set out and deviations from it will inhibit progress. While you will hear anecdotal evidence that X lost Y amount of the force of gravity on them by doing Z are they also fit or simply skinny fat? Being fit is being healthy and that is the true function of exercise not reducing the force of gravity we measure with the scale.

The way is the way and the way is nutrition, strength training and cardiovascular training in that order. Trying to modify this and do it our way instead can lead to frustration and disappointment and potentially cause us to quit.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post

    My clients suffer me to recommend a strength circuit of 6 exercises done for 4 to 6 circuits which with a warm up and cool down is about a forty minute duration. To determine the weight to use find your single repetition maximum (SRM or 1RM) then start with 40% of that weight for your circuit. Circuit training has a built in cardio effect so you do not need to intersperse cardio into your circuit traing, at best it adds only a couple of percentage points gain. Do interval cardio of some form two or three times a week on the non strength days.

    I recommend only full body and compound movement exercises for strength training programmes.

    You might want to check out the Spark team F.I.T. Females in Training for typical workouts and a support group.Fell free to contact me directly with comments o questions.r
    2996 days ago
  • no profile photo MRS_4EVER_AFTER
    So with this said, what would the appropriate amount of strength training be for an individual? Splits, total body, 30 minutes, 60 minutes?

    I guess the better question would be how would one know what would be right for them with regards to strength training duration and rotation? Would intervals of cardio and strength still count?
    2996 days ago
  • BERRY4
    I guess my foundation is stronger than it was 6 months ago, but I believe that the cardio is where my weight loss comes from. At least that was the case in the past.

    I lost 35 pounds in 6 months by walking alone--no change in diet, no strength training. I walked over 500 miles. However, I did NOT have a plan for after that time period, and that caused me to allow the weight to come back.

    Now I'm viewing this process as a lifestyle that I want to maintain for the next 30 years (if I live to 80!?!). I want to eat right, be stronger, and have exercise/movement as a regular routine in my life. That is what I'm building on now.

    ...and in response to your blog, I think too many people are "doing it my way" right into the grave. A friend of mine said she would rather take a pill to "solve" a problem than do the work to lose the weight to make a difference. -- To each their own I guess. But that isn't the way I would want to choose. (I think whatever we take into our bodies has its own side effects, whether food choices or medicines. There can be good outcomes or complicated results.)

    Thanks for your thoughtful blog. Keep up the good work!
    3007 days ago
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