Thursday, September 25, 2008

Are You Intense About Losing Fat?


Are you logging in mile after mile on the treadmill or stationary bike and not getting the fat loss you desire? Maybe you lost some weight initially but now you have reached a plateau and losing weight has become rather difficult.

Maybe it's not you. Maybe it's your workout?

The definition of "insanity" is:

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I love to ride my bike and go inline skating. I did my first "century" (100 miles) on my bike back in the 90's. I would often ride my bike 17 miles to work and then home again. On the weekends, I would skate on my favorite bike path for 20 miles just for fun. One day, a coworker asked me, "If you workout and ride your bike so much, how come you have not lost any weight?" He was right. As a man, I was 6'2" at 235 lbs. and had stayed there for quite a while without losing much weight. I went to my doctor for advice. You can read what happened by clicking on my story (Is Your Scale Broken?). That did not help either. I was on my own. Eventually, I had to learn two things.

  1. How to eat. I was sabotaging all of my weight loss efforts by eating the wrong kinds of foods and eating them in the wrong way. Many of my meals were served out of a box or a bag and were delivered through my car window. A few hours after that, I was hungry for another bag of junk food. I loved bagels and cream cheese, burritos and french fries, italian sausages and onion rings. Of course, I always washed it down with a large "DIET COKE" and finished it off with some low fat yogurt ice cream. Who was I kidding? It was not until I learned how to replace all that with fresh vegetables, fruit and lean protein that I began to see results. Eating more fiber and consuming the right kinds of fats did wonders. Going on a traditional, calorie starving "diet" was not an option for me. I had never met anyone who had gone on a diet and was successful at losing weight and keeping it off. Diets are programmed to fail.
  2. How to exercise for fat loss. Obviously, the long steady cardio workouts on my bike and skates helped me lose a measly 5 pounds and then it seemed to stop. I knew better. I was a competitive swimmer in college. I was 90 pounds lighter (145 lbs @ 6'2") and ate over 12,000 calories a day. At that time, my ribs were sticking out and I had almost no body fat. I could not eat enough food to keep my weight up. My workouts were so hard that I was starting to lose muscle. So, what was the difference? It was the INTENSITY!! We did a lot of interval training. The theory behind interval training is this: By mixing bursts of high intensity work with low intensity periods of recovery, you're overloading both the aerobic and anaerobic systems at the same time, getting the benefits of both aspects of training simultaneously. You can realistically get a complete workout in thirty minutes with interval training. These intense, but short, sessions will cut fat off your body faster than a hot knife through butter. Weight resistance training gives you an added dimension to your fat-burning capabilities. Research has shown that regular resistance training can increase your Basal Metabolic Rate by up to 15%. So for someone burning 2000 calories per day, that's a potential 300 extra calories burned every single day. Combining interval training with resistance training would be the ultimate fat burning event.
Let me illustrate what I mean by "intensity." Watch the following video as six different people do several different weight-bearing exercises. They illustrate the intensity of interval training for four minutes. ONLY FOUR MINUTES! How many of us could carve out four minutes out of our day? Watch the guy lifting the sand bag. He lost 50 pounds doing this.





Did you hear what he said?!? For every effort you burn in high intensity exercise, you burn 9 times more fat than the aerobic calorie burn! Does that mean that I could burn just as much fat in 4 minutes as 30 minutes on the tread mill or exercise bike? Let's do the math for a minute. That would also mean that 15 minutes of this kind of training would save me 2 hours of time on the bike or treadmill. If you are like me and don't have much time to work out, this information is really good news.

If you did not catch what they were doing, it was 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by ten seconds of rest. They did this four times for a total of four minutes. This is called the Tabata Protocol. It was discovered and developed in Japan for the Japanese speed skating team. They would warm up for five minutes, followed by the 4 minutes of interval training and followed by 5 minutes of warm down. This is a total of 14 minutes.

As always, check with your doctor before you start to do any kind of physical exercise like this.
Get a physical exam before trying this workout if you re over 40 or have two or more of the following risk factors: a family history of heart disease, you re a smoker, you re sedentary, you re overweight, or you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.


If you are a beginner or have not worked out in a long time, it would be suggested that you start with 10 seconds of intense exercise followed by 30 seconds of rest. As you get better, you can gradually go to the regular Tabata Protocol of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off.

It does not matter what exercises you are doing as long as you are moving, it get's your heart going and is a weight bearing exercise. Here are a few examples of a few more routines that will blast the fat off your body.

Kettle Bells - I bought a 35 lb. kettle bell a few weeks ago. I'm just getting started. What a fun workout! Here is a video of various exercises that could be done with this device. The lady on the left used to weigh 195 pounds. Forty four percent of that was body fat. In four months of using kettle bells, she lost 45 pounds and went to 17% body fat.




For a variation of the old push up, why not try this other version instead? It is called the Hindu push up. You don't need any special equipment. Just your own body weight.This uses more muscle and will give you more of a workout and will increase your flexibility.



If you have a Swiss Ball, here are several exercises you can do with this device:



Finally, here is an article you should read about . . .

The interval training mistake virtually everyone makes when they're trying to burn fat..

Some of the summary points of this article

Two groups of women burned 300 calories per workout session. The ones who did interval training increased fitness levels by 13 %. The women who did steady boring cardio increased fitness levels by 0%

Changes in body fat were also greater in subjects using interval training.

According to the research team, "... even if caloric expenditure during exercise is equal, higher intensity exercise may further aid weight loss due to an acute increase in energy expenditure up to 24 hours following exercise."

These findings have been confirmed by researchers from the University of Alabama, who showed that 24-hour energy expenditure was

160 calories greater in subjects performing high-intensity interval training

rather than continuous exercise. In other words, the interval training group of women continued to burn 160 more calories in the 24 hour period following their initial workout. Amazing!

Are you ready to lose some fat?

Here are some other great blog posts on this subject

New York Times:
A Healthy Mix of Rest and Motion

Australia News: Eight seconds key to weight loss

Interval Training (HIIT) | Get Leaner with Less Cardio?

Drop Excess Pounds Like A MOFO With Bodyweight Exercises!

Remember talking about EPOC training?

The Ultimate Secrets to a Flat Stomach and Six Pack Abs

6 comments:

Rachel said...

I can understand the beefits of interval training. I only get 30 minutes a day to workout so choose to use my cross trainer and stay out of breath the whole time. I do this because I know that it is good for my heart and combined with a healthy diet I have found that I have lost a little weight but look much more sculpted and toned which is great.

PaulsHealthblog.com said...

My wife and I have a 20 month old son, Brady, so I am limited in the types of workouts I can do right now.

Body weight exercises are great, along with eating right, in order to maintain a health weight.

It sure is convenient too!

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