Time to forget steady state aerobics...
Walk into any health club on just about any evening and you’ll be greeted by the sight of row upon row of cardiovascular exercise equipment with people practically queuing up to get in their “fat burning zone” for the next hour or so.
But what if I told you that steady state aerobics is about as much use for fat loss as an accordion is for deer hunting, and that the “fat burning zone” is one of the biggest exercise myths still believed to this day?
While aerobic exercise is a good way to get more active, and helps improve our general health, achieving a lean and athletic physique simply won’t come through doing it. Worse yet, as the body adapts you’ll need to keep going longer and further to get any results. There is more bad news too, prolonged aerobic exercise depresses metabolism, and promotes the release of cortisol, a hormone that leads to the burning of muscle as fuel for exercise. This means that up to half of your weight loss with cardio can come from lean muscle NOT fat.
The myth of a fat burning zone came about when research showed that at a lower intensity of exercise we use mainly fat for fuel. Well guess what, as you are sat at your computer reading this, you are also using mostly fat for fuel, but it’s not likely to get you lean and mean is it?
So, what should you be doing? Firstly, start lifting weights, and I’m not talking about 20 minutes at the end of your run spent on the exercise machines and abdominal trainers. Resistance training will kick start fat loss by adding lean muscle to your body, and guess what? By adding muscle you will burn more calories throughout the day and given that 75% of your daily calorie usage comes from your resting metabolism we’re talking about a serious difference. In fact by adding five pounds of lean muscle you will burn the equivalent of one pound of body fat extra every 18 days.
Stay off exercise machines that isolate muscles as these are dinosaurs of the 1970’s bodybuilding craze, instead get yourself some dumbbells and start doing whole body exercises that chew calories, boost metabolism, and build strength and fitness. In no time at all you’ll find yourself well on the way to an athletic and toned physique without those hours of mind-numbing cardio work.