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Why Less Is More For Exercise When The Intensity Is Right

When it comes to exercise everyone wants to know how to see the best results in the shortest amount of time. While there is a limit on what you can expect in a minimal time, don’t be fooled into believing more is better with exercise.

From a fat loss standpoint the most effective workouts will be completed in less than 30 minutes. Sound too good to be true? It’s not and the idea of a thirty minute or less workout will make sense once you understand how exercise intensity impacts the hormonal systems in your body.

Let me ask you a question. Are you tired of getting on that treadmill day after day for long grueling workouts and not seeing it pay off on the scale or in the mirror?

I can assure you there is a better way.  New research shows that short bursts of high intensity effort followed by brief recovery periods, called “burst training” is exponentially better for you than climbing on the treadmill or elliptical for long periods of time.

Here are the reasons why. By performing long duration, low intensity workouts, your body decreases growth hormone (GH) and testosterone production. These two hormones have powerful fat burning and muscle building properties.

Instead of supporting muscle and metabolism, you’re only breaking yourself down with long duration exercise, especially in a calorie restrictive state.

The catabolic effect of long-duration aerobic exercise is one of the main reasons why distance runners often have that “skinny fat” appearance. All you have to do is compare the body of a distance runner with that of a sprinter to see the difference.

Sprinters are proof that you do not have to do long distance cardio to lose body fat. If you want to participate in an endurance event, by all means go for it, but if fat loss is your goal you should look to progress towards burst and interval training.

There are a ton of myths and misconceptions out there about exercise. For years we’ve been told to work out in your “fat burning zone” when you want to lose weight.  While you do burn some fat while in the aerobic or “fat burning” exercise zone it’s what happens after your workout that’s far more important.

Research has clearly shown that you burn the opposite source of fuel after exercise than you did during exercise. So when you do low-intensity, long duration cardio you’ll be burning sugar later that day and the next day instead of fat.

The opposite would be true for the individual who was doing burst training. This person would be primarily burning more fat instead of sugar afterwards due to the EPOC effect (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).

Let’s go back to the sprinter for a second. How do they get super lean with tons of definition? The answer is in their workouts where they’re doing short bursts of high intensity effort over and over. During the workouts they are burning sugar because there is not enough readily available oxygen to stay in an aerobic state.

They’ll be producing energy in either the anaerobic or glycolitic energy systems. So, after the workout the sprinter will be burning primarily more fat as an energy source over the next 24-36 hours.

Our bodies were really not designed for long durations of exercise but rather to endure short bursts of energy output.  If you think back to hunter and gatherer days, people stayed alive via the “fight or flight” responses.  Our ancestors were conditioned to either fight or flee from a predator or dangerous situation. In both cases, short bursts of energy were used for self-preservation.

A recent study conducted by the University of Colorado proved that exercisers in the sample test groups who conducted burst training obtained significantly higher levels of hormonal and central nervous system responses.

Hormones like epinephrine and growth stimulating hormone, or GSH, when triggered, stimulated a quick fat breakdown. These hormones are very effective in weight loss and fat burning by kick starting the enzyme “hormone-sensitive lipase” (HSL) which orders the cells to release the fat content that is stored in them.

If your workout routine only depends on mid level or lower intensities, chances are these hormonal responses will not be activated. As you can see it’s not just about burning calories. In fact, when it comes to fat loss, calories need to support your high intensity effort.

Starving yourself doesn’t work as I’m sure you already know. What does work is fueling your body for high intensity exercise and by doing so you’ll be lighting up your metabolism.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Charleston, you can receive a FREE, no-obligations (2) session trial and consultation without risking a dime. Over 1000 Charleston area residents have transformed their bodies following our unique burst training workouts and simplified nutrition programs.

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Category: Fat Loss.