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Advantages Of Burst Training Over Traditional Health Club Workouts For Fat Loss

What is the traditional health club workout like? Typically, you’ll find people doing aerobic exercise like the treadmill, elliptical, etc, or they’ll be doing isolated muscle specific, anaerobic exercise using free weights or machines.

Some people may do both, but they’re typically not getting cardio and resistance work in at the same time. The traditional health club workout is very different than burst training for a fat loss regimen.

In this post we’ll explain some of the numerous advantages with incorporating short-duration, high-intensity exercise into your workout routines.

Most aerobic exercise typically consists of jogging or walking on the treadmill, using the elliptical machine, stationary bike, or perhaps completing some type of aerobics class. The aerobic activities we typically referred to as “cardio” unfortunately are very static. They don’t incorporate fitness components like agility, balance, core stabilization, etc, and require the same few muscles to perform repetitively.

Think about jogging on a treadmill – it is exactly the same muscles being used over and over. Unlike jogging outside, the surface doesn’t change. There aren’t any obstacles, potholes or even curbs to navigate. The same steps are performed and it requires very little stability or support from other muscles.

Some types of aerobics classes can be more dynamic like step classes and Zumba and do at least require some agility and coordination. Never-the-less, these activities are typically moderate intensity to allow the exerciser to complete the movements for longer durations.

The reality on aerobic exercise and traditional “cardio” workouts…

I won’t get into extensive detail in this post on aerobic exercise but I will say this. The research is continuing to validate what many fitness professionals have witnessed in the real world for years….

That aerboic exercise does VERY LITTLE to change body composition. Forget about how many calories you’ll burn. For years people have been mislead into believing the exact OPPOSITE of what really works to lose fat.

Do lots of cardio and when you’re finally in “shape” you can start doing some weight training. The reality is this paradigm should be reversed. Individuals looking to lose weight should START with resistance training and progress to higher intensity anaerobic exercise.

I don’t want to make it out like walking, jogging, and all this cardio is a complete waste of time as aerobic exericse is certainly better than NO exercise. But the thing is it’s really not that effective from a fat loss perspective.

Your diet and exercises that impact metabolism and lean muscle mass have a far greater impact on fat loss than aerobic exercise.

Ok, back to the traditional “weight training” side of the workout you might see in a health club.

The traditional health club workouts typically resemble bodybuilding philosophies where which specific muscles are “isolated” and then followed by a large amount of inactivity between the sets.

Typically, these workouts are broken up with certain days devoted entirely to particular muscle groups. Think along the lines of one day being back and biceps, then chest and triceps, and then the legs. Perhaps abs and core training may be devoted to one workout session or sprinkled in at the end. If cardio is incorporated into this type of workout regime, it’s usually before or after the weight training workout.

While there are obviously still some health clubs and gyms with people lifting some iron, more and more you’ll see individuals using machines. I don’t know if health clubs got into this whole trend to reduce risks of liability (machines obviously pose less risk for injury) or if it was more of a swing in user preference. My hunch is it’s a little of both.

Sitting down while exercising never made much sense to me but I’ll digress on that for a minute.

On a related note however, one of the big downsides of the health club machine workout is that it doesn’t mimic real world functional activity. When, if ever, are only the biceps isolated in everyday activities other than a “bicep day” at the gym?

If one is digging a ditch for example they are using their entire posterior chain, core muscles, and the biceps with each shovel full of dirt. The idea is muscles aren’t isolated in everyday activities or with sport and recreation for that matter. The human body functions with muscles integrating together and working in unison to facilitate movement.

Traditional health club weight training workouts consist of using machines or a form of mechanical system that allows certain muscles to be isolated while the exerciser is sitting down. This provides little benefit for core strength, stabilization, balance, and other components of fitness.

Burst training workouts for the best of both worlds…

Burst training may incorporate the use of cardio exercises, free weights, and even your own body weight, but the difference between burst training and a traditional health club workout is this: the duration of the workout is shorter, the intensity is higher, and the results are far more superior.

Burst training workouts engage a large range of muscles throughout the body with a variety of movements, loads, volume, and short rest periods. Anaerobic exercises are performed back-to-back with minimal rest which in turn keeps the heart rate up and provides a favorable hormonal response.

Burst training workouts also more closely mimic everyday activities or movements with sport and recreation. Free weights and functional exercise equipment like kettlebells, medicine balls, sandbags, etc, are used to challenge the body across all energy systems and different planes of motion.

There are no hard and fast rules with what you can and can’t do for burst training. Or for that matter what type of equipment or implements are used. Burst training is simply about picking any set of activities where the individual can work large muscle groups with short-bursts of high intensity effort.

Let’s compare an example of the two different types of workouts for a second…

Example: Traditional Health Club Workout

The weight training workout may look something like this:

Seated Chest Press
Seated Lat Pulldown
Seated Bicep Curl
Seated Torso Rotation
Seated Leg Extension
Seated Curl

Typically three to four sets of 10-15 repetitions would be completed with each exercise and a rest period between movements. Cardio perhaps is included with an aerobic workout completed before or after the weight training session on a treadmill, elliptical, etc.

Example: Burst Training Workout

Dumbbell Squat to Overhead Press
Kettlebell Swings
Dumbbell Lunges
Medicine Ball Chops
Box Step-Up’s

With a burst training workout the exercises could be completed in circuit fashion with minimal rest between each movement. The following six exercises would be completed in sequence for the completion of one round. Often times 3-4 rounds of all six exercises would be completed.

Alright, let’s look at some of the main differences here between the example workouts.

For starters you’ll notice the health club workouts done on machines all have the exerciser sitting down while completing the movements. This does nothing to mimic everyday activities or prepare the body to move better like we’ve already talked about.

The core muscles remain inactive while the movements are being completed. The movements used in the burst training workout are frequently done on your feet and work a large number of muscle groups with integration.

Next the health club weight training workout incorporates traditional sets and reps with a rest period between each set. Compare that to the burst training workout where minimal rest is provided between movements. This allows for the exercisers heart rate to remain elevated and in essence provides a “cardio component” to the workout.

Most importantly from a fat loss perspective is the burst training workouts provide an adrenal response due to the higher intensity. The body secretes powerful fat burning hormones like adrenaline and nor-adrenaline as a response to the short-duration, high intensity, bursts of all-out effort. This hormonal response is not facilitated with traditional “aerobic” cardio workouts or the health club machine weight training workout.

The beauty of burst training is the exerciser can in essence get both cardio and resistance work done in the same session, plus in much less time. A typical burst training workout will only take 30 minutes or less to complete. This is a big benefit for individuals with a busy lifestyle.

Now granted burst training workouts aren’t the ONLY way to workout for fat loss. They’ll be other types of exercise including interval training and staggered intensity cardio which you’ll want to incorporate in a weight loss program.

The most effective workout regiments for fat loss will incorporate a variety of activities that work all the energy systems. A fitness professional can help you put together a plan that best meets your individual needs and current level of conditioning.

Burst training is becoming more and more prevalent in fitness programs for fat loss because of their ability to work across several different energy systems and produce hormonal responses that other workouts don’t. If you’re looking to lose fat, burst training is a more efficient way to complete resistance training over the traditional health club “machine based” workout.

If you’re in the Charleston, SC area and would like to learn more about burst training you can register for a free no-obligations consultation and personal training trial with Shaping Concepts. My team of certified Charleston personal trainers specialize in burst training workouts for middle age adults and have helped hundreds of Lowcountry residents successfully achieve a body transformation. See our success stories for a handful of these examples and then sign up for your free consultation today.

Shaping Concepts is a premier Charleston fitness center specializing in weight loss and body transformation for middle age adults. Burst training workouts and supportive nutrition strategies are used in combination with a wide array of hormonal and metabolic testing. Each program is customized to the unique needs of the client and includes hands-on coaching and accountability. Sign up for a free no-obligations consultation and personal training trial today.

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Category: Burst Training.