Sunday, October 11, 2009

Our Bodies are Like Girl Scouts: they're always prepared... for the famine, that is. (And if you're a woman, then for childbearing too.) We store about 45 times more fat energy than carbohydrate energy. If necessary, we could walk for a long, long time.

Well, so? Let's get walking! More fat burned, less fat on me. Sounds good!

Most popular cardiovascular exercise equipment notoriously offers "Fat Burn" mode. You step on the elliptical trainer and the first thing it asks for is your weight. Disgusted, you hit the up arrow until your neighbor glance over, and then you stab the "Enter" button. This really leaves you little choice when next the machine asks you which workout you'd like to select. You choose "Fat Burn," of course.

"Fat Burn" mode programs the cardio machine to maintain a low resistance or speed throughout the workout. This workout programming is based on a scientifically supported theory that says we burn a greater percentage of fat during low- and moderate-intensity activities compared to high-intensity exercise. In fact, the lower the demand of the activity, the greater percentage of fat we burn. So deductively, sitting still is the perfect fat-burning exercise (at 1oo%)! Right?

No, not exactly.

You see, exercising to lose body fat should not be a leisurely read-your-People-Mag-while-listening-to-your-iPod-type of experience. For fat loss through exercise to be successful, you have to work hard. I'm really sorry. :)

Here's why: math. This is one example.

If you don't want to visit the link, cheat now and read the verdict: the person who chooses to work at a higher intensity burns more calories and more fat calories despite burning a lower portion of fat, when compared to the person who exercised at a lower, fat-burning intensity. Yahoo!

Here's more good news: your body can be trained to be more efficient at burning fat. Simply, "the more fit you are, the better you will become at burning fat at the same exercise intensity." Two effective methods are:

  • Interval Training: High intensity work followed by active rest, 1-2 times per week. Examples are here, & here. Or try a Fartlek for a real good challenge.
  • Go Very Long: Keep moving for more than 90-120 minutes at a moderate intensity.

Both interval training and Going Long can be difficult to approach on your own. Please email me if you have questions about ways to go about it: athletewithin (at) gmail (dot) com.

Happy Fat Burning!


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