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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Every day I read over the postings in the Fitness and Exercise message boards and every day I see almost the same questions, statements and comments posted.

What was your Cardio of the Day?
How many minutes exercise have you done today?
My doc said to stop cardio, what do I do?
Should I add strength training into my workout?
Lifting heavy or lifting light
Does anyone Zumba? If so have you lost weight?
Did you exercise today?
How far did you run today?
Calories Burned?
Cardio burns fat
Lose weight first then add strength training.

This is just a random sample of the ones which seem to recur over and over regardless of the information posted over and over again which addresses these issues. There is a recurring set of themes it appears concerning how long, how much or how many without any real understanding of the processes and dynamics involved in fat loss. I use the term fast loss since that is the goal albeit the mantra of many is weight loss.

There seems to be magic assigned to the number of calories “burned” every day or how long one spent “exercising” or how many minutes were spent doing X. None of which are relevant to the goal of fat loss. The triad or trifecta for fat loss is nutrition, strength training and cardio. The values assigned to each are 80% nutrition and 20% exercise with the exercise assignments being 15% strength and 5% cardio for general fat loss and fitness.

The “holy” mantra seems to be all about cardio done endlessly while reading, watching TV and maybe even doing your nails without any attention being paid to intensity. Based on the above trifecta this is bassackwards.

I think the assumption that someone who has been sedentary can get into a cardio programme with flaccid and essentially unused muscles is asking for problems. Muscles are the motivators for all our movements, they make the joints work, in our feet they are shock absorbers and even extending a pinky in a genteel manner while sipping afternoon tea requires muscle action. The more fat one has to lose the less muscle they have to move the mass if they have been sedentary. I will not suffer anyone to listen to a rehash of the other benefits of strength training since those are not relevant to this irreverent rant.

Beginning by monitoring and controlling the calorie intake is the first step in fat loss not creating a set of single entry books as to how many calories today’s SWAG guesstimate was. The second step based on the trifecta is to begin a strength training programme to reawaken and prepare the muscles for the new and more demanding stresses to be placed on them by a comprehensive fitness and fat loss programme. The fact that a quality strength training programme has cardio benefits also prepares for the dedicated cardio.

The questions of how long, how many or how much have no relevance since quality is the key to progress not quantity. Exchanging interminable for intensity and multiples for meaningful are setting oneself up to fail. Getting fat is easy, just takes indolence, apathy and inattention, getting trim is not easy it takes commitment, work and attention to detail.

With all apologies to Winston: “with blood, sweat, toil and tears we shall prevail”

Please turn to hymn 385, “We Shall Overcome”
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