Happy Friday friends! Earlier this week while having a conversation with someone, I casually mentioned how I feel bad that so many people hit the cardio machines for hours and hours thinking that as that “number of calories burned” went up, they were making a serious dent in their weight loss goals, when in reality they were actually being counter-productive to their goals by doing so.
She stopped me and said, “Wait, long bouts of steady state cardio is not only ineffective for weight loss but counter-productive?”
I had to take a step back and realize that something I took for common knowledge was not in fact so common after all.
This has been a widely held belief by the fitness community since the days of yore.
“If I run miles and miles and miles, I will lose my body fat and look and feel like my ideal self”
Unfortunately my friends, this just isn’t true. I wish it were! But it is not.
Don’t fret though! There are simpler and more effective ways to reach your weight loss goals that don’t involve hours of running on a treadmill.
Cardio Intense Resistance Training
(I’ll save those for another post.)
Now, before I get in to why the ever so popular steady state cardio is inefficient and counter-productive, I want to toss in a quick disclaimer.
In no way, shape, or form am I putting down endurance training, endurance athletes, or people who enjoy marathons, adventure hiking, and endurance training. As with any training mode, it has its place, and it is VERY useful for improving your body’s ability to travel great distances as well as very good at increasing heart health.
That being said, Steady State Cardio is not what you should be doing to achieve weight loss goals.
Let’s spin a tale!
Body fat, in a nutshell, is our biological response to survival adaptation in a primitive world that was cruel and harsh to survive in. From needing energy reserves to escape a predator, to make a kill, to stave off famines, or to insulate us from the elements, it is more or less useless in our 1st world lives that we so comfortably live.
With that understanding, we also should note that the body is designed to function as efficiently as possible for energy conservation. This is just plain scientific law for organism survival. The more energy you expend performing a task, that more likely you are to die (In a black and white primordial world) so difficult tasks must be made more efficient to preserve life.
So, let’s look at resistance training for a moment. If we do the same exact routine, with the same exact weight every single day, what happens? Our body adapts to it, the muscles perform the action more efficiently, and energy is conserved.
As well, muscle development stops. It is an unnecessary waste of resources if the action has already reached optimal efficiency.
Now that we’ve broken it all down, let’s assemble all the pieces of this puzzle.
You hop on a treadmill, untrained, and out of shape. The first few weeks you do this it is grueling, exhausting, and very difficult.
You start to lose some initial weight, so you keep on going through this modality of doing the same thing (long bouts of cardio,) because hey, it’s clearly working right now.
Then, something amazing happens.
The body responds to these stimuli you are subjecting it to by making the energy exchange more efficient, thus requiring less calories to perform the action. Your cardiovascular system becomes efficient at oxygen exchange, thus not creating an energy deficit that must be paid back.
Now that the muscle fibers are firing at maximum efficiency, and our cardiovascular system is exchanging gasses without a hitch, we are literally running on the least amount of energy required possible.
BUT WHY BODY!? WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN US LIKE THIS!?
Consider the following: One way in which our ancient ancestors were able to hunt food that was faster than us, was by having the ability to run great distances. Being bi-pedal animals we are by no means the fastest in the animal kingdom, so we needed some other edge, some other evolutionary gimmick that would prevent us from starving and going extinct. We have the ability to run GREAT distances with little energy expenditure.
Are the pieces starting to come together for you now?
Unfortunately … I have one more piece of information to provide you with regarding this topic that you aren’t going to like.
Remember how fat is essential to survival? And our ability to run great distances is essential to survival? Well … Muscle is not essential to survival, as far as our body is concerned. So, when we run that incredible distance and we exhaust our fuel (carbs and readily available fats and proteins) our body turns to the only other fuel source it has that is not our stored life saving energy (fat) which is …
Yes, I am sorry to say it, but long distance running will eventually start to consume your own muscle protein to provide you with the fuel you need to travel that extra mile.
While I hope I just blew up your world and everything you thought you knew about weight loss through Steady State Cardio, I don’t want you to leave here feeling empty handed.
As I said earlier, there are modalities of training that WILL help you reach your goals of weight loss, and with less of a time commitment to boot!
Lifting weights and changing the stimuli each time your body adjusts to it is a sure fire way to not only burn calories, but to tone and change your bodies look.
As well, if done with minimal rest times, you can spike your heart rate enough to also turn it into a cardio vascular exercise, burning more calories and toning your physique!
So the take away here folks? Stop running marathons on the treadmill if weight loss and muscle tone is your goal. You are only going to hinder your process and in some instances, regress it.
Instead, spike your heart rate, and lift heavy!
Of course, for those of you training for a marathon or endurance athletes who aren’t trying to lose weight or tone your physique, get those miles in killer, and make sure you adequately fuel up beforehand!
Friends, fitness enthusiasts, and the rest of you lot lend me your ears for it is Friday and I come bearing a new article. Today, I want to share with you one of my secrets of life and why I swear by it; Oatmeal.
Oatmeal is truly a magical substance that was put on this earth for the sole purpose of making life better.
To start, let’s break down Oatmeal’s nutritional numbers.
In a single cup of Oatmeal (Most suggested servings are about ½ a cup, which is more than enough to be a meal on its own, trust me) you get the following breakdown…
Amount Per 1 cup, cooked (234 g)
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3.2 g 4%
Saturated fat 0.5 g 2%
Polyunsaturated fat 1 g
Monounsaturated fat 0.9 g
Trans fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 115 mg 4%
Potassium 143 mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 27 g 9%
Dietary fiber 4 g 16%
Sugar 1.1 g
Protein 6 g 12%
Vitamin A 20%
Vitamin C 0%
Vitamin D 0%
Vitamin B-6 35%
Vitamin B-12 0%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.Sources include: USDA
The big points to take away from this information are as follows:
Low Calorie Meal
High in Dietary Fiber
Loaded with Micro and Macro nutrients
Protein is essential for muscle growth and provides fuel for other functions of the body. Macro and micro nutrients are essential for internal life functions and the various chemical reactions that occur in the body. Fiber is an indigestible substance that cleans you out like a brush, moves material through your guts faster (fighting against irritation, potential cancers, and feeds the healthy bacteria of your intestines) preventing a plethora of problems and keeping other undigested materials from having excess energy being absorbed and stored as fat cells that leaves you feeling fuller, longer as it moves through you.
It does all of this … at only 158 calories in what could be considered 2 complete servings.
This may be starting to sound a lot like one of those infomercials with an offer that’s just too good to be true …
But wait! There’s more!
By having a high fiber diet and allowing your body to feel fuller, longer, you decrease your odds of ingesting more calories than your body may need and can really help fine tune your system to understand the difference between actually being hungry and not.
But wait! There’s even more!
On top of having all of these nutritional and weight loss benefits, Oatmeal can be prepared in a virtually limitless number of ways, combing it with your favorite fruits for taste and more nutrients, adding a scoop of protein powder or a scoop of peanut butter for increased protein as well as a new taste.
And here’s another lil secret (shhh) got a bit of a sweet tooth? Use Brown sugar for a low calorie sweet injection. Need a chocolate fix? Adding in some unsweetened cocoa into the mix can provide you that chocolaty flavor as well as provide you with some awesome antioxidants!
If that’s not enough to convince you, I start every one of my days with a bowl of it, and end each one with the same.
It helps keep my insides regulated, helps me feel full when I need to be and helps me get a little extra protein and nutrients into my belly.
Maybe it’s not for you, but I swear by it and dare you to try it.
Hello friends and joyous Friday to all. Today’s topic will be about Over Training and Safety. It is unfortunately a topic that sometimes gets overlooked in our pursuit of fitness. Disregarding mantras such as “Less is more” and “Small steps and little bets pave the way to great success” in favor of mantras such as “No pain no gain” and “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”
While these are all great mantras and can help you push yourself when you are in a lul or fire you up to attack a PR (Personal Record) there is one mantra that outshines all of them that I like to keep highest on the priority list: “All things in moderation.”
From body image disorders to tri-athletes, cross-fitters to weekend warriors, and seekers of instant results; all can become a victim of the over training bug.
Time for an anecdote!
I have fallen victim to the over training bug many times in my life (No one is immune to its temptation.) Particularly when it has come to training my chest and my legs I have pushed well beyond reasonable and ended myself up in injury land that not only halted my progress in my training, but put me out for long enough to cause regression and make me lose gains I had.
Since tearing both my groin muscles 8 years ago, I have JUST now regained all the leg strength I had built up to, mostly due to the psychological effect that injury had on me.
So … How does one push to the brink of performance to make the best version of themselves without falling victim to over training?
1.) Safety: Practice safe gym techniques. From making sure you’re not sacrificing form for weight, always using the safety bars in the rage cage (These may save your groin muscles one day,) to having a smart spotter for exercises that could cause you harm if done incorrectly or if your muscles fail, these are all safety techniques that require little to no extra effort and will prevent you from injuring yourself and halting or regressing your progress from your own stupidity.
2.) Listen and Respond: Pain and discomfort are two completely different animals. Understanding the difference between the two can be key to preventing your next round with over training syndrome. Discomfort in the muscles as they stress to perform the exercises and general fatigue are the signs you are looking for. Discomfort in a joint on the other hand? That’s not the sign of “weakness leaving the body” that’s a sign of incorrect technique, load, or just a light injury that should be rested to prevent a more serious injury. As well, feeling PAIN in the muscle is the sign of a tear, at which point you are not increasing its effectiveness, you are literally destroying it.
3.) Rest IS a part of your Routine: Some folks just hate missing a day at the gym, even if their muscles are screaming at them. Something you should know, rest and recovery IS a component of your training. If we do not let our muscles rest, they do not grow, they do not become stronger. In fact, the exact opposite will happen from over training, you will consecutively tear the fibers so much that they never adapt and you can cause the medical affliction known as Rhabdomyolisis. That can mean one thing: Game over man, Game over.
So the take away here folks, is while you should push yourself, you should be exhausted by the end of a tough workout, but you must also understand and respect the physical limitations of your body. By not respecting them, you will not overcome them, they will break you. As Sun Tzu knew: Know thy enemy, know thy self. The parallel, know your body, know your limits.
Happy Friday friends! This week we have an interesting topic to consider. It’s not fitness related, or even nutritionally informative. This week’s topic is about Body Image and taking a step back to consider how our actions can affect others, as well as address the unrealistic image that has been ingrained in our heads as “healthy.”
Unfortunately, with as many strides as we’ve made as a society, in some respects we have made just as many steps back. Wildly unrealistic images of the human body are bombarded at us in advertisement (done through clever use of editing software,) eating disorders are an issue that plague many people, fad diets that promise instant results for a skinnier you run rampant, bathroom scales are considered the measurement of “health,” and to put the bread on the sandwich, fat shaming and skinny shaming are “okay.”
Now of course, as with many of the entries, here is the anecdote that prompted this…
Being a former fat kid who once tipped the scales at 275, much of my youth was spent centered around a negative body image, teased about being “overweight” and not fitting into the “accepted” body image. I’m sure this scenario unfortunately rings true for a lot of others out there as well.
Though it was difficult sometimes to cope with, over the years it has ultimately made me stronger and more zealous in my own endeavors to be in charge of my life.
Now that I have finally achieved my ideal body and healthy life style, all of those negative feelings seem to be a distant memory and hold little power against and over me these days.
However, every once in a while, someone will make a remark that some people may hear and think nothing of, or even presume it to be a compliment.
“You’re too skinny.”
Having struggled with weight and body image most of my life, a comment like this brings back many old feelings. Despite overcoming myself and reaching comfort and my ideal health, my body image is still not good enough for people around me.
But wait a second!
Why does my body image need to be good enough for anyone but myself?
This is my mantra that keeps bringing me back to a centered feeling, and helps me forgive ignorant statements such as the previous.
The media’s grasp on body image is probably not one that will be changed any time soon and will continue flooding mainstream marketing. Our best defense, is education, understanding, and a little something I like to call “noneya,” as in, someone else’s weight or body type is “noneya” damn business and you have no right to criticize one way or another. You don’t know that persons struggle, or their story. So follow that golden rule so many of us seem to forget from childhood “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.”
For those of you, who are on your journey and find yourself encountering these obstacles, remember these following nuggets.
Celebrities have tons of money and time to throw at nutritionists and personal trainers to meet certain standards set before them. However, this does not measure how healthy they are, and many of those fad diets are not only a temporary fix to a bigger problem, but can be incredibly unhealthy for the human body.
Eating disorders are a real thing, support those who struggle with them, and just try to sympathize with what they are going through. Often times support and understanding can go a long way in combating disorders such as those.
Scales do not measure health. Scales do not measure how fat, or how skinny you are. Scales measure how much your bones, muscles, internal organs, blood, skin, hair, and any food or liquid you might have in your system weighs. Oh yeah, and they also take fat weight into that equation.
Remember, loving yourself is one of the biggest first steps. Taking care of yourself follows shortly after.
Forget the haters, and those who would try and force their opinion of your body image on you, take your journey to health one step at a time, and look inside for health, not out.
Remember to ask yourself, “How do you feel?” Not how you look.
Live, Laugh, Love!
Happy Friday friends! Apologies for the late post this morning, but this Ferret, is on Vacation! Everyone needs some time away from their usual grind, it’s good for the soul, mind, and body. This week, I want to talk to you about my weekly challenge that is part of my cardiovascular training and show you how you can replicate it!
Last year I ran my first obstacle course race and managed to score in the top percentile of my age bracket. It was invigorating, it was exciting, and it was a new experience.
I had the strength to overcome the obstacles with relative ease (minus the Hercules pull, but I’m ready for that this year!) My biggest limiting factor was my cardio vascular endurance, and my leg strength endurance to tackle as many ups and downs as off-road terrain could offer as a challenge.
It was grueling, I can’t deny that. But through it, I realized how pivotal one aspect of my training regimen was to helping me achieve the place I did. In fact, it was such a corner stone to how I faired for the endurance that I am including it again in my training regimen with more gusto.
This was the Jericho Hill Challenge.
Jericho Hill is an old ski hill near where I live that is .12 miles in length from top to bottom with an average grade of 20%. It is 1.1 miles from my house on winding and hilly back roads, making a run to and from it equivalent to 2.2 miles.
This run was trained for last year once a week, increasing the number of times up the hill by 1 each successive training session. Up to 5, followed by 2 sessions where it was done 3 times with a 50# Bag on the shoulders for one time up and down, a 25# weighted vest for one time up and down, and no weight on the 3rd.
What I would like to do for you now, is offer a training regimen that can be performed on a treadmill to simulate the cardio thrashing power of this routine that you can apply to your own training for any kind of foot race. Remember, cardio strength will carry you far; leg strength will make it easier.
Assuming you have completed a progressive cardio program and are comfortable running/jogging a mile at a steady state (even if that steady state is considered slow!) this program can help increase your cardiovascular strength and your leg strength endurance, really powering up those slow twitch fibers (used for endurance activities.)
This will be broken into a 4 segment run.
Warm Up Mile - 1.5 Miles Steady State
Hill Challenge - 20% Grade .10 Miles Slow – Fast Steady State
Cool Off - 0% Grade Light Jog to Walking Pace 60 – 120sec
Finish Mile -1 Mile Steady State .5 Miles As Fast As Possible
Remember though; push yourself to a challenge, not till you drop dead! This format is not couch potato friendly.
However, I will also include a format I use to get people from sedentary, to running their first mile in as little as 1 Month!
Day 1 - 15 Minute Walk
Day 2 - 14 Minute Walk, 1 Minute Jog
Day 3 - 13 Minute Walk, 2 Minute Jog
Day 4 - 12 Minute Walk, 3 Minute Jog
Day 5 - 11 Minute Walk, 4 minute Jog
Day 6 - 10 Minute Walk, 5 Minute Jog
Day 7 - 9 Minute Walk, 5 Minute Jog, 1 Minute Run
Day 8 - 8 Minute Walk, 6 Minute Jog, 1 Minute Run
Day 9 - 7 Minute Walk, 6 Minute Jog, 2 Minute Run
Day 10 - 6 Minute Walk, 7 Minute Jog, 2 Minute Run
Day 11 - 5 Minute Walk, 7 Minute Jog, 3 Minute Run
Day 12 - 4 Minute Walk, 8 Minute Jog, 3 Minute Run
Day 13 - 3 Minute Walk, 8 Minute Jog, 4 Minute Run
Day 14 - 2 Minute Walk, 9 Minute Jog, 4 Minute Run
Day 15 - 1 Minute Walk, 9 Minute Jog, 5 Minute Run
Day 16 - 10 Minute Jog, 5 Minute Run
Day 17 - 9 Minute Jog, 6 Minute Run
Day 18 - 8 Minute Jog, 7 Minute Run
Day 19 - 7 Minute Jog, 8 Minute Run
Day 20 - 6 Minute Jog, 9 Minute Run
Day 21 - 5 Minute Jog, 10 Minute Run
Day 22 - 4 Minute Jog, 11 Minute Run
Day 23 - 3 Minute Jog, 12 Minute Run
Day 24 - 2 Minute Jog, 13 Minute Run
You should complement this program with a weight training program, and try and advance to the next day every other day.
So get out there, and challenge yourself to cardiovascular health!
Dan "The Fit Ferret": An avid enthusiast of life and seeking out adventure wherever it may lie. ACSM certified Personal Trainer and Spartan OCR Competitor.