So you may be thinking, I’ve been told if I want to achieve FAT LOSS, I need to do more cardio workouts.
Is that really true?
For those of you looking to improve your fitness levels and shed a few extra inches around your waist, you may be surprised to learn you no longer need to spend hours at the gym!
Whenever I’m at the gym, I’m always shocked at how many cardio machines are on display and almost all of them in use. I’m talking here about cross-trainers, treadmills and stationary bikes.
If you’re really looking to lose those extra inches and burn fat, then you need to STOP WASTING COUNTLESS HOURS in the gym doing cardio and getting little to no results!
Many of us go to the gym in search of those clearly defined abs and overall leaner, more toned physique but let me tell you, those cardio machines burn calories at a very slow rate compared with training at higher intensity levels and using resistance training in your workouts.
Now, I’m not saying we should throw away cardio all together but it simply shouldn’t be the focus of any of our workouts and we definitely don’t need to spend longer than 20 minutes at a time doing cardio training.
I know that many of my clients have told me they spend 45 minutes to an hour on cardio training, either going out for a run or spending time on the treadmill. That’s fair enough if you gain enjoyment out of running for extended periods of time and ultimately training for a marathon so including longer runs in your training is normally not such a bad idea.
But let’s face it, many of us hate the idea of spending an hour on the treadmill or jogging outdoors and would love to get results within 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Why You Should Train At A Higher Intensity
By training at higher intensities for short bursts of activity, the body is forced to work anaerobically, meaning in simple terms, working in the absence of oxygen where the body must find alternative sources of energy to fuel the activity.
Certain circumstances, such as when explosive power is necessary, require the body to produce energy faster than oxygen delivery can take place. In these cases other energy sources must be used.
Anaerobic exercise leads to increased performance for a very short duration and is appropriate for very intense activities that only last between fractions of a second to two minutes, after which oxygen tends to take over as the primary source of fuel.
What Is Anaerobic Exercise?
With aerobic exercise the body uses oxygen to fuel the muscles. With anaerobic exercise the body briefly must use substances other than oxygen in the body to cause a very short energy burst. In this case glucose is the primary energy source that is broken down into a substance called pyruvate leading to increased energy for a short time period. Contrary to this, aerobic exercise consists of lower intensity activities that last for a longer period of time such as distance running, swimming, or bike riding.
Other examples of anaerobic activity include:
Biking sprints, swimming sprints and running sprints are examples of anaerobic activities. During sprinting, the muscles rapidly deplete energy reserves before heavy breathing begins. Sprinting demonstrates the requirement of a significant amount of oxygen needed by muscles to perform the activity. To perform, bike, swim or jog slowly for five minutes, then sprint at maximum speed for 30 to 90 seconds. Return to a slow speed for two minutes. Repeat the sprint and slow interval for 30 minutes.
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT is another popular form of anaerobic activity in which the athlete alternates brief speed and recovery intervals to increase the overall intensity of your workout. HIIT can be performed with body-weight activities, such as pushups or crunches, to develop strength and power. An example would be to walk for three minutes followed by performing as many pushups or crunches as you can in 20 seconds followed by gentle walking for 10 seconds. Repeat this interval 10 times, followed by a three-minute cool-down.
Anaerobic training develops the anaerobic metabolic capability of the muscles trained, raising the capacity of the athlete to perform at elevated exercise concentration. Powerlifting is a type of anaerobic resistance training that necessitates the bodybuilder to accomplish one repetition maximum each of three different lifts – squat, bench press and deadlift. Powerlifting is performed with a maximum amount of weight, with maximal effort and for three to 10 seconds. The main objective of this type of training is to intensify strength and power.
Anaerobic exercises comprise brief periods of physical exertion and high-intensity strength-training activities. Sports such as basketball, football and tennis are also anaerobic activities. These sports require brief surges of high-intensity activity, lasting two minutes or fewer, with short episodes of recovery.
The primary by-product of anaerobic activity is lactic acid (often termed lactate) formed by the breakdown of pyruvate during glycolysis in the absence of oxygen (referred to as anaerobic respiration). During intense bursts of activity, this lactate will continue to build up in the muscle tissue causing fatigue to set in and reduce performance.
At the point where physical or psychological performance can be seen to deteriorate, we define this as having reached the athlete’s Anaerobic (or Lactate) Threshold and this helps the coach to plan a suitable lactate training programme to assist the athlete in developing physical adaptations in their natural ability to exercise under greater levels of lactate in the muscle with shorter recovery periods between intense training sets.
What Does This Mean For Fat Loss?
The anaerobic effect happens in the body when we exert ourselves at 84% of our max heart rate and above. When we train in this level of intensity for short bursts of energy, we create what is called EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. In essence, EPOC is an after burn effect of calories burning (primarily from fat stores) at rest for up to 38 hours post exercise.1 This type of training can be incorporated into both our cardiovascular exercise as well as our strength routines.
With cardiovascular exercise we can do sprint intervals and we can go anaerobic in a strength application by doing explosive jump squats. The residual effects are numerous: burning more calories at rest, developing strength, a more efficient use of time, a more lean and defined body, and an increased VO2 max. And there are even studies that correlate anaerobic training to loss of belly fat and increased growth hormone.2
With all of the science and research behind anaerobic exercise, why isn’t it all the rave and sweeping the nation by storm? I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact anaerobic training is hard. Very hard. It’s not what people want to hear, so fitness professionals don’t always tell you. Generally, it’ a better business practice to tell customers what they do want to hear, and so trainers develop fun exercise programs. Anaerobic exercise isn’t like that. It’s not fun and takes a monstrous effort. It also feels terrible at times.
With such effort intensity comes an intimidation factor, as well as issues in and around safety. I would highly recommend good coaching and a safe environment before you head off on your own to the track to do sprint work or into the weight room to do jumping push ups. As with any plan, preparation is key – this means conditioning to condition, laying the proper foundation and base. It also means proper maintenance is required: deep tissue massage, proper stretching, myofascial release, and the use of heat and ice, for example.
If you’re looking to become more athletic or toned, and I cannot frankly imagine someone who deep down wouldn’t want both, go anaerobic and your body will thank you.
Contact me now to discuss how you can safely use anaerobic training in your workouts to help you achieve incredible fat loss results FAST!
Sports Massage Therapist & Personal Trainer
1. Schuenke MD, Mikat RP, McBride JM (March 2002). “Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management.” European Journal of Applied Physiology 86 (5): 411–7. doi:10.1007/s00421-001-0568-y.
2. Irving, B., Davis, C., et al. “Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.” 2008. 40(11), 1863-1872.