What is and What Ought to Be
A preoccupation with the scale can lead to a false sense of accomplishment in terms of weight loss. So many variables exist, causing your scale-weight to fluctuate depending on the day, or even a given time of day.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
These fluctuations occur because of fluid gains and losses, often termed “water weight”. Since water is not the fat loss you are looking for, looking at the scale after a strenuous workout doesn’t really give you much indication of fat loss; it more so shows you how much you have sweat during a workout.
So what does true fat loss actually look like?
On our road to discovery, let’s not be swayed by the so-called “fat burning zone” made popular by common cardio equipment. In theory, this moderate intensity zone makes a little sense, but upon closer examination the fat burning zone is NOT where you want to spend most of your time exercising.
As exercise intensity increases, so does your caloric burn. This caloric burn is largely derived from fat sources (generally in the form of free fatty acids), due to the major contribution of aerobic metabolism.
At a certain intensity (which is different for everyone), your body can burn a maximum amount of fat in terms of percentage of energy contributed from fat sources. After this point, as intensity continues to increase, your body starts to rely more on carbohydrate sources for energy production, and the relative contribution of fat starts to go down.
However, as we all know, percentages are relative. Tipping your server 50% seems ludicrous if you consider the absolute amount of the bill; tipping that much on a cup of black coffee might not break the bank, but paying even a modest 3% tax when purchasing a car is less appealing!
Even though higher intensity activities derive a lower percentage of calories from fat, the absolute amount of fat burned is higher at higher intensities.
The Efficiency Model
The human body is amazingly adaptable. If exercise intensity is rigorous enough, the body begins to make changes so the next time a stimulus is introduced, the body is better able to handle it.
Higher intensity exercises elicit a more potent training stimulus, so the concentration of enzymes responsible for aerobic fat burn will go up more with exercises that are above a moderate “fat burning zone”.
With training, the body becomes more efficient! The more fit you become, the better your body is at burning fat. Furthermore, with higher fitness, higher intensities can be reached, which leads to more calories burned during a given workout and more fat loss!
Some more encouragement: your body burns calories just to keep you alive, usually in the ballpark of 1200-1500 calories per day. This baseline burn is termed basal metabolic rate.
Even more good news—your body can increase the basal metabolic rate through training. Basal metabolism is particularly influenced by the increased metabolic activity of increased muscle mass. Adding resistance or strength training to your fat loss workout is a great way to supercharge your progress!
Get to the Point!
By now hopefully you have realized that higher intensity activities can lead to positive enzymatic adaptations and changes in fitness, which will allow you to increase your fat burn. Moreover, adding a little extra muscle will also speed up fat loss. The following 5 workouts are examples of exciting ways to implement fat burning principles to your program.
5 Exciting Fat Loss Exercises
Power Lifting Intervals
The perfect way to burn some calories, while concomitantly increasing strength. This workout jumps back and forth between strength training (bench press, squat, deadlift) and sprints (200 m). Each exercise is completed with 5 sets of 5 repetitions at about 75% of your maximum capability.
The sprints are completed at approximately 80% of your top speed. Between each exercise, give yourself a two minute break (ie after 5 sets of a bench then sprint combo with no rest, take two minutes before beginning the squat section).
The tempo run is a very common training run that is used by endurance athletes to challenge their functional capacity. Tempo runs should be at, or slightly above your lactate threshold (more commonly known as the intensity in exercise where you can feel a marked increase in the difficulty of the exercise, which is combined with a faster respiratory rate).
These runs should only last for 20-30 minutes, and afterwards you shouldn’t have much left in the tank. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend tempo training more than two times a week.
The Amusement Park Workout:
I named this workout after the fact that most people don’t go to an amusement park and ride the same ride all day long; why should the gym be any different? If you are challenging the same muscles in the same way for your entire workout, you are more likely to quit early, or decrease the intensity.
If your workout is an hour, try 15 minutes on each of the following: treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, rower. Or get creative and choose your own combination of cardio equipment.
Let the Games Begin:
Try playing an actual sport instead of simply exercising. In a competitive environment, you will be less likely to focus on the difficulty of exercise as you are distracted by the fun of playing your favorite sport (just make sure the sport is an active one!).
A distracted athlete is one who is more likely to exercise at a higher intensity for longer, resulting in an exciting way to increase fat loss.
A Change of Scenery:
If I were to tell you to run sprints in a courtyard surrounded by blank concrete walls, or I gave you the option of running those same sprints in a beautiful section of your town, I have a good idea which location you would choose.
When choosing your workouts, make sure to choose your location too. Run sprint intervals to increase your fat loss progress with high intensity training, but run them in a place where the environment will create some mental serenity.
Complete 6 x 300 meter sprints at about 85-90% of your top speed. Give yourself 2-3 minutes recovery between each sprint. By adding rest intervals, you will be able to train at a higher intensity than if you were to try and sprint the whole distance of the workout without stopping.
Stick to it!
Always keep in mind that the best workout is the one that you complete. Choose any of my five exciting workouts, or create your own based on the principles you’ve picked up from this article, before you know it you’ll be accomplishing your fat loss goals