Here are 10 essential things you need to know if you are exercising for fat loss.
1. Burn Fat In Bed
The benefits of exercise as a fat burner continue long after your cool down. In fact you can even burn fat whilst you’re asleep. This increased energy expenditure, that is, calorie burning, is much greater when you have been exercising at at least 75% intensity. That’s running beteen a 7 and 8 out of 10 on the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE). So keep those interval training sessions going.
You might be able to think of other ways to increase your energy expenditure in bed. If so, go for it!
2. Don’t Work in the “Fat Burning Zone”
The body does burn a greater percentage of calories from fat in the “fat burning zone” -about 65% of your maximum heart rate, but overall, you burn more calories when you work at a higher intensity. So whilst a lower percentage of calories burned will come from fat when you are working at a higher intensity, you will burn more calories overall at a higher intensity, and more calories from fat as well. It’s the overall calories burned that is important in weight loss, so keep the intensity up (when your body is ready for it)
The chart below explains it.
|Low Intensity – 60-65% MHR||High Intensity – 80-85% MHR|
|Total Calories expended per min.||4.86||6.86|
|Fat Calories expended per min.||2.43||2.7|
|Total Calories expended in 30 min.||146||206|
|Total Fat calories expended in 30 min.||73||82|
|Percentage of fat calories burned||50%||39.85%|
Source: From The 24/5 Complete Personal Training Manual, 24 Hour Fitness, 2000
3. Enjoy Your Exercise
There’s no use choosing an exercise that you are not going to enjoy. Whilst energy burned is dependent on the activity itself, it is also dependent on how much effort you put in, how well you can perform the activity, how long you do it for, and how often. I’m not saying you have to leap out of bed at 5:30am on these cold, wet, dark mornings, and say “Yippee I’m going for a run” but if you choose something you enjoy most of the time, you’re far more likely to keep it up. Train with a group, set yourself a goal such as a fun run to get you through those tough moments where you feel totally unmotivated (which believe it or not we ALL have), choose something practical and accessible. Running is a great exercise for enjoyment. You can do it with friends, you can go as hard or as easy as you like, it’s very accessible – just a pair of shoes, shorts and t-shirt, plus your undies of course, and you’re away. What could be more simple and enjoyable?
4. Use Large Muscles to Up the Calorie Burn
You need to get your large muscle groups involved for a serious fat burning workout. The greater the overall muscle involvement, the more calories will be burned in the workout. Anything that recruits your thighs and bum will be a winner on the fat burning front. Running of course fits the bill, as does rowing, so if you’re at the gym, jump on the rowing machine. Don’t overdo the rower first up though – it is very hard on your lower back so you need to do little bits frequently and build up to rowing further, rather than go hammer and tongs on your first attempt. 2 -5 mins first up at a slow pace will be fine. Take a look at this video for some good tips on rowing technique. Well worth the 5 mins before you jump on a rower.
5. Develop Your Aerobic Capacity
Fat burning activity has to be sustained for a reasonable length of time, for maximum results. Whilst sprinting might be a great exercise, you can only sprint for a short period of time. For maximum fat burning, you need to be doing at least 20 minutes of fat burning exercise a few times a week. Increase your endurance by doing longer, slower bouts of exercise -perhaps a long slow run, or running efforts of 10 minutes duration at a slightly faster pace than if you were just going out for a jog, with a few minutes recovery interval in between efforts. You’ll find you’ll be able to do more repeats of your faster fat burning exercise if you improve your endurance.
6. Interval Training Maximises Calorie Burn
Interval training is where you have an effort, and then a rest interval. Contrary to popular belief, the “interval” is actually your rest time-which has little impact on fat burning, but is interesting just the same. Interval training is great: if used correctly it can make you run faster, improve your aerobic fitness, and burn more fat. In short, it makes very effective use of your time. To get the most out of interval session, join a group where you can be overseen by a trainer or coach who can help to ensure you are working at just the right intensity, and doing just the right amount of training.
7. Carry That Weight
Weight bearing exercise such as running uses more calories than those in which your weight is supported, such as swimming or cycling. It’s because you have to move your body weight against gravity.
8. Run In A Fasting State?
Does running before breakfast burn more fat? Possibly. If the body exercises in a fasting state (for example when you have gone overnight without eating) it has to rely on fat stores for energy. On the other hand, the lack of a ready energy supply could mean you don’t work as hard or for as long as you might have done otherwise. Play around with this and try the same session both before you’ve eaten and then on other days when you haven’t. Compare your times, how you felt, how long you could sustain the effort and make a judgement for yourself on this one.
9. Keep Challenging Yourself
If you want to keep up the results, you need to keep up the intensity. As you get fitter, you’ll be able to run faster, and do more. Your body will be able to cope with increasing demands on it. If you just keep doing what you’ve always been doing, the benefits will plateau.
10. Keep On The Move
Research has found that leaner people tend to stand and move around more than overweight people in their normal daily life. The Mayo Clinic found that non -exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) was up to 350kj (or nearly 90 kilocalories) higher each day, in people who move around more. If you have a desk job, set your alarm to get up and move around every 30 minutes. It’s so easy to get bogged down in something and have a couple of hours go by without you every having moved more than your fingers and your eyelids! Take a look at sitting can be deadly for more on why you should get up and move around.
Walking to the biscuit tin doesn’t count by the way!
Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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