Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Want to stay fat? Keep running.

Hey guys, here is an article I wrote for the online magazine known as "Wangle".

Want to stay fat? Keep running

Posted on October 31st, 2010 at 6:00 am

By Rob Bezant

Forget what you think you know when it comes to fat loss, because I’m here to tell you, you don’t know anything! Distance running, distance walking (even worse), steady state exercise, whatever you want to call it…

As a personal trainer this is one of my biggest headaches.
I understand that you love to run; it gets you free from the constraints of daily life, makes you feel free.  I get it.

But the problem is when you run one kilometre, burning somewhere between 60 to 100 calories or so, based on your weight, you’ll subject your joints to 1500 jumping steps at 2-4x your body weight.

In the case of women, the specific structure of your hip, particularly in relation to you knee, running causes you to have specific knee and lower back problems. In fact most of the runners I have seen complain of the same issues: plantar fasciitis, lower back pain and patello-femoral problems.

How good is it for fat loss you ask? Terrible! Like almost no benefit for you terrible.

It reduces your metabolism (which makes it harder to burn fat), it increases adrenal stress (which makes you fatter), it increases oxidative stress (which accelerates the aging process), it lowers the testosterone/cortisol ratio (making you fatter) and after 8 weeks, the effects plateau.

When debating with people I put this image to them: Who has less body fat, a sprinter or a marathoner? The answer I receive is almost always ‘a marathoner.’  The correct answer, however, is a sprinter!

It’s not difficult to understand why. We’ve all been sold on the idea that in order to burn fat you have to do long, slow running. Sprinters do almost zero continuous running, yet they have less body-fat. How is this possible? The reason is in the nature of their training.

Apart from their weight training sessions which are done with heavy weights and low repetitions, sprinters get into shape (fitness and body fat percentage wise) by utilising a method called Interval Training.

Because of the intense nature of interval training, you only need to do it for a quarter of the time you would normally do what we call ‘steady state training,’ like distance running. Instead of finding time to do an hour-long run, you can sneak off at lunch, do 15 minutes of intervals and burn a higher amount of calories.

One of the main mechanisms we are aware of at the moment is a raise in what is called EPOC (Excess Post exercise Oxygen Consumption). Current research by exercise physiologists states that EPOC is not the only factor causing the raising of the metabolism from interval training.  The mechanics by which fat loss occurs over a 24-48hr period after exercising is not fully understood, but the point is, the result is well documented.

The information regarding high intensity interval training comes from the results accumulated by the world’s leading strength and conditioning coaches.

There is more and more evidence coming out that supports the notion that interval training is a superior tool for fat loss. It reduces the likelihood of injury due to shorter training periods, it increases metabolism making you burn calories for significant periods of time, it doesn’t reduce muscle mass and is the best method for utilising fat as a fuel source.

So why aren’t people the world over doing interval training over steady state?

Pure and simple – it’s hard! The nature of interval training is an all out brutal effort, and for some reason people seem married to running.

When you point out all the obvious benefits of interval training over running, they will still fight you tooth and nail. It’s time to pick: Do you like running? Or do you like looking hot?

You need to get it into your head that exercise is meant to be difficult, uncomfortable. If you’re not asking yourself ‘Why am I doing this?’ then you’re not training hard enough!