with author Heather Frey
fitness myth: why you're not losing weight
You're moving a LOT, sometimes an hour or more and you're doing it OFTEN. You're tired and sore, but you just aren't losing the layers the way you'd hoped nor do you feel that great. The truth is, you are actually training like an endurance athlete. As you train your lungs and muscles to become more efficient, you're able to sustain activity longer. Your body also becomes more efficient at storing body fat rather than burning it. While you're still burning calories, your body eventually adapts, gets comfy, and plateaus. Too much cardio can actually KEEP you from losing layers and may even eat into your lean muscle mass looking for quick energy.
The only solid way to build a solid lean body and boost metabolism is to add resistance training. Yes, you have to use your muscles, moving only your legs is not enough. You don't have to lift weights but you have to lift something. Even training with your own body weight is a great way to build, define and tighten your body. You can do isolation routines which work certain muscles on certain days, or you can do full body workouts which hit everything, just a little differently each workout. Pilates, bootcamps, TRX, and martial arts are great examples of full-body/use-your-body-as-weights workouts. Crossfit, an advanced workout program, is a great example of mixing cardio with weights in a fast, intense, but relatively short workout to get max full-body results. This kind of training becomes a form of functional training as well in that it works entire muscle groups which build overall strength, endurance and agility.
But don't be afraid of grabbing a pair of dumbbells and getting those muscles to pop! Ladies, you won't get big! Getting big takes a lot of time and strategy. What you will get is that lean athletic look (with clean eating). Don't know how to lift? Hire a trainer, ask the people who work at your gym, or do a some digging on Youtube about proper form as well as some get-started workouts. It's all there at your fingertips.
So if you love your cardio, fine, but pull back the amount and add some *intensity*, which means, go faster but for a shorter amount of time. In fact HIIT is your best cardio bet. HIIT is "high intensity interval training" which is preformed by doing short as-fast-as-you-can bursts followed by a slow-down-recover period. An example would be, go all out (on the treadmill, elliptical, stairmill, etc.) for 30 seconds followed by 1-2 minutes at a moderate speed. Repeat this pattern 5 to 10 times. This kind of cardio training has been shown to be superior for fat burning and is far more time efficient.
Shake up your fat burning and your thinking with sprints!
It goes against all popular fat burning and fitness theory but research from The University of Western Ontario (in London) performed studies that suggest that doing 4-6 30 second sprints with four minutes of rest between sprints, three days a week, can burn more fat than doing 30-60 minutes of steady state cardio three days a week. That's a total of only a few minutes of actual cardio! . You can rest the full four minutes or up intensity by only resting a minute or two. The study in the journal of "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" reported that subjects lost about twice as much body fat as the steady-state cardio group.
Will you have the same results? Try it and see! Fitness is a game of trial and error, tweeking and tuning, and simply finding what works best for you. Certainly not every body reacts the same way or will have the same results, but if you need something new to keep cardio jazzed, or you've hit a plateau, try coming at your fitness from a completely new direction. Sometimes you just need to reset your body's GPS.