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Exercise and Fat Loss Confusion

Posted by Christopher Bathke, on June 2nd, 2011


The subject of exercising for fat loss is wrought with misinformation, and ridiculous claims. Many that come in to Elemental Fitness Lab with the goal of losing weight have tried all sorts of protocols, which obviously haven’t worked or they wouldn’t be talking to me.


In order to clarify what works and what doesn’t we need to look at physiological principles. Keep in mind that we are setting nutrition aside for the moment.


To get the body to change it must be taken out of homeostasis, which means there must be enough consistent demands placed upon it so as to cause adaptation. In other words being concerned only with burning calories is insufficient. We need to consider the role of metabolism.


Have you ever noticed that in general sprinters have lower body fat levels and are more “toned” than distance runners? In part this is because sprinters have more muscle, which results in a higher resting metabolic rate. Calories are utilized to maintain lean tissue, so it is easier to maintain lower body fat levels the more muscle one has.


This is why jogging or other steady state cardio alone doesn’t work very well. Our bodies adapt to such low intensity efforts fairly quickly so that while there may be some initial change, in order to continue seeing results one would have to keep running further each successive week.


Instead we need to look at ways of exercising that creates a higher metabolic demand. Resistance training is the most time and energy efficient way of doing this. What this means is doing a program that gradually and safely increases strength and anaerobic capacity.


Keep in mind that strength does not equal getting bigger. Of the hundreds of people I have trained over the years all that have gotten leaner also got stronger at the same time.


In the next article I’ll discuss the importance of metabolic conditioning for fat loss.


Chris Bathke
Elemental Fitness Lab
11 NE Hancock St.
Portland, OR 97212

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