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Finally some good news. Keeping fit does not have to take hours: according to new research from Canada, the body gets as much benefit from short 10 minute bursts of high intensity exercise as it does from 10 hours of training moderately.The technique is known as high intensity interval training, which involves running, cycling or rowing at near maximal intensity followed by a minute of recovery and then repeating the process 10 times. It is possible to do more by doing less, said professor Martin Gibala.
As many of my blogs keep reiterating, although longer distance/duration exercise does have it’s place, shorter bouts of intense exercise interspersed with recovery have the benefits of
So give it a try. A good example of this type of training is the very very horrid training programme I am doing in an effort to get top of the leader board on the Windsor Leisure centre concept 2 2000m rowing chart. Tomorrow I have to do 8 90 second intervals at 1:37-1:40/5oom pace. Ugh.
Ok, so you’ve got the trendy leg warmers and are even considering some spangly dangly earrings, but should you be training like it’s the 80s again? How have modern training techniques changed, what can we take from the 80s and what does modern science and training say we should do?
The 80s were characterized and sometimes demeaned by lycra clad goddesses like Jane Fonda, who encouraged us to exercise in a high impact fat burning environment. The theory that we burn the highest percentage of fat at around 60% of maximum heart rate (so 220 minus your age times 60% for the mathematicians out there) was the prevalent driving force behind training. Activities that put you into the much vaunted “fat burning zone” were thought to be most effective. This meant long sessions of cardio based exercise like step aerobics, dance aerobics and medium distance machine work on a treadmill or bike. Resistance training was deemed secondary (especially for women) and was based on high repetition exercises of 20 or more preferably done to some Howard Jones or Bananarama. Although effective to a degree, this training tends to cause a results plateau quite quickly. So although some improvements are made, these soon tail off and then cease altogether. Plateaus lead to frustration. Frustration leads to doubt and doubt leads to failure. Some of the problems with this type of training is that longer duration aerobic activities can burn away valued muscle AND have shrinking effects on the heart and lungs. Your body will adapt to stresses placed upon it (the basis of ALL training) so if you make it do an activity for a long time that is endurance or aerobic it will want to be as lean and stripped as possible thus causing loss of lean muscle. This in turn will cause a lowering of your metabolic rate (how many calories you need to stay the same weight) and lead to weight gain. The high impact nature of the 80’s also led to many wear and tear problems in the joints. Jane Fonda’s x ray would show nice replacement hips, not so hot in a pink catsuit. 80s training also neglected the muscles of the core, the area of the trunk that supports movement between the upper and lower parts of the body.
Modern training is about functionality, higher intensity interval training, strength and flexibility. Functionality means that what you do in the gym should reflect what you will do in the real world. Higher level interval training (1 minute fast, one minute slow for example) will not only make you fitter much more quickly, but will burn more fat. Although the % of fat used at these higher intensities is lower, the overall calories used are so great that the total fat burned will still be more than for a longer less intense session. It’s also shorter, so it will fit more easily into busy lifestyles. What you also miss out on are the “afterburn” effects that modern types of exercises can provide. Most people lose any and all the benefits of a heightened metabolism within 30 minutes of finishing a step aerobic workout. Compare that to the 72 hour lift in metabolism that interval training and weight training can provide and you can now start to understand why many of the people that are actually on the workout floor subjecting themselves to more grueling workouts look and feel better than their “step aerobic” counterparts.
Training in the 10s is also about strength and core stability. Resistance training at lower reps (around 14 reps in a set) and in a higher volume of sets (3-6 sets) also has far greater benefits than leaping about to “Come on Eileen”. Functional strength, strong backs and of course a higher metabolic rate means a svlte nymph like you. Core stability (exercises like the plank are good for this) is also now vital, to keep the link between upper lower body working properly.
So if your personal trainer is making you exercise for ages in the “fat burning zone” think about changing what you do, vary your exercise every 4-6 weeks, be sure to do resistance training, go more intense for a shorter period (unless training or a long distance race-for that you have to train at running long distances!) keep stretched and be functional! There is a lot more on this and a proper explanation of exercise zones on our website at www.dietsdontwork.co.uk -go to the knowledge section. If you are setting out on your own it might be a good idea to have a few sessions with a well qualified personal trainer. Even if it’s only for a couple of weeks it’s vital to get guidance and start effectively. Good Luck!!
In the final scene of Middlemarch, George Eliot famously wrote of the impact of small unhistoric acts, and as it turns out this seems to be true. According to new research every act of random kindness generates three in return. For the study at the University of California, researchers devised a game in which the players had to chose between giving money to other players or not, with no obvious gain from giving the money. They found that a player who had been on the recieving end of a generous play went on to show similar good will to three other players on average. So one person’s generosity spreads to three, those three will go on to show kindness to three people and so on, creating a domino effect. However, players that were shown shelfishness went on to be selfish to others too.
So it would seem that we can either keep going downhill, and be generally selfish and miserable (has anyone looked at other drivers on the road lately, particularly in the south east?) and thus spread this like a cold to others, or we can start to spread a little joy. So let someone out at that junction, open a door for someone, offer a lift to the person walking away from the supermarket with lots of bags. Chances are it will come back to you, and times three!!
I know that this blog is slightly off the beaten track, but as personal trainers we do have to look after clients’ well-being, so I think that this is relevant!
We now provide personal trainers not just n Berkshire and London, but we also cover the Leeds, Harrogate and Wetherby areas too. We are pleased to welcome Lindzey to the Diet’s Don’t Work personal trainer team. She comes highly qualified with the Premer Diploma in personal training and is an advanced instructor capable of helping special populations from the hypertensive to the elderly. And of course she is really knowledgeable about food, what to eat (and when to eat it) so that you can get fitter and lose weight while not starving. All block bookings of 6 or more personal training sessions in Leeds include nutritional profiling and advice, as well as all the resources contained right here in the blog and also in the knowledge page. Even if you are not thinking about a personal trainer everything you need is on these pages to make a start on the road to a gazelle like slimmer you. Linzey’s profile will soon be up on our meet the trainers page as well as a photo, so you will know who to expect when she turns up on your doorstep to make you do lots of lunges!
Ok, so you might have done a bit of exercise in the past, perhaps at school, or at some point had a go at some exercise classes or the gym but never quite stuck with it. Now the closest you get to breathless is opening the fridge door for another glass of Chablis. How do you get started again? And how do you keep it going? Here are some tips for success.
1-If you hate running, then it might not be the best thing to try and do. Whatever tickles your fancy, or whatever puts you off the least is the best thing to try and do. So if you like cycling, try that. If it’s gym based exercise try that. Starting exercise for the first time can be really scary, so it makes sense that you should try to enjoy it, at least a little. For many exercise classes are a good introduction, as you will have lots of other people around you to offer support and who share a common goal.
2-If you need to lose 2 stones, then setting out to lose 2 stones can be daunting and discouraging. So instead set yourself a short term goal and break the overall task into sections. For instance try to lose 6lbs in the first month. If you don’t quite do it be patient, and when you get there set another target, then another, and before you know it you will be a svelte waif looking for new clothes. Similarly, if you want to run a 10k don’t think too much about being able to do the whole thing at once, but break it into sections, increasing your goals by a little bit over a shorter time.
3-Take it steady. For some a good start might be jogging for 30 minutes and building it up from there. For others it might be a steady walk. Find your level and progress from there.
4-If you really want to get fitter then you are going to have to work reasonably hard. You need to be breathless so that talking is not easy but not impossible. With a heart rate monitor this would be 60-75% of your maximum heart rate (220 minus age in years times 60%). If you are walking with a friend and can easily chat then you need to speed up. Exercising at this level is not a waste of time, but it won’t make you fitter very quickly and you will have to do it for a very long time every day to make an impact on your calorific output and lose weight.
5-Resistance is never futile. Most women (and men) think that health, fitness and weight loss is all about CV, running, swimming, biking, cross training, rowing etc. But strength training (or weight training as it is sometimes known) is just as important for fitness AND weight loss. Basic exercises like push ups, squats, bent over rows, shoulder presses and the plank are some simple body weight/dumbbell exercises that will get you going. Have a look on our website on the homework pages where there are demonstrations of these moves.
6- Be patient. It takes time. Unfortunately for us we lose fitness much faster that we can gain it. So take your time and look at it as a lifestyle change, not something that you must have by next week. You only get disillusioned if you have illusions in the first place, so take your time and try to enjoy the journey!
7-Get support. Starting exercise can be daunting, so let your friends and family know and enlist their support. The ultimate help is of course personal training, so don’t forget that as an option. Compared to many of the other things that you may have tried in the past it’s the most effective way and not as expensive as you think. Even one session a week or very two weeks may give you the encouragement and accountability to keep going, especially when it gets hard or on an off week.
8-Don’t over think it. All athletes, at all levels find the prospect of exercise off-putting sometimes. The first 5 minutes of exercise is always the hardest. All of the top medal winners from Kelly Holmes to Victoria Pendleton say this. So don’t think about how hard it’s going to be or psyche yourself out. Just get your kit on, go out of the door, and start! Think about it later! You will ALWAYS feel better both mentally and physically after constructive and challenging exercise.
Today’s topic-Can I change the physique I was born with?
True AND false. If you were born with thick ankles and not the longest of legs (like me), then you will never have thin elegant legs no matter how hard you train. So you might not actually get to feature in swan lake. You can however, by focusing on the right sort of training, keep as much fat off as possible and with good muscle tone and flexibility look your very best. By exercising the upper back and shoulder girdle you can also ensure that you keep a good upright posture and look lean and elongated. Similarly, if you are a very tall and willowy type, you will struggle to be as curvy as someone with a natural hour glass shape, but through good nutrition and exercise will be able to lok your best for your morphology. So you can’t change the basic bone structure that you were born with, but you can really help yourself by exercising and eating well thus making the most of what you’ve got. If you really want to get going then a course of personal training with one of our experienced personal trainers will help you get specifically what you need.
This one is false. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel, and we are designed to eat and digest them. Where the problems happen is that most of the carbohydrates in the supermarket are highly processed and have lots of bad things added to them, like hydrogenated fats, sugar, salt, e numbers and stabilisers. These carbohydrates will most likely make you fat, as they are hard for the body to process and contain fat and sugar, so have lots of calories even in a small amount. Unrefined carbohydrates, however, are very very good for us, providing not just fuel but also micro nutrients, vitamins, fibre and roughage. These are things like vegetables, fruit, and grains that have not been processed. Denying the body carbs, and having only protein can lead to weight loss, but there can be problems with the kidneys, a real lack of practical things to eat and also you will be missing out on many vitamins and minerals that are essential to a healthy body and mind. Also, if you eat too much of anything, be it steak or potatoes, it will make you fat, whether it’s carbohydrate or not. Remember that your size and weight are a simple equation, energy in vs energy out. If input is more than output you will be fat!! The key is to be as natural as possible, avoid anything with flour (processed carbohydrate) and sugar (processed carbohydrate), have a good balance of food groups, eat small amounts often and exercise then success will be yours. There is lots of further information on this on our nutrition fact sheet on the knowledge page. Good luck, and remember that if you are struggling a bit on your own, a personal trainer from Diets Don’t Work could really help kick start you, all block bookings of 6 or more personal training sessions include nutritional profiling and help, as well as structured tailor made exercise programmes.
I need to do CV for at least an hour a day to stay in the fat burning zone. False.
Traditional theories show that our bodies use the most fat as a fuel source during exercise up to 60% of our maximum heart rate. In the gym or park this roughly equates to a steady pace that can be maintained for some time, leaving the participant breathy but not breathless. Although for the average person this is true recent studies show that for different individuals the point at which fat burning decreases as intensity of exercise increases varies greatly. Some subjects tested were still burning a relatively high proportion of fat right up to maximal effort (90% of maximum heart rate) while others went anaerobic (making energy without using fat or oxygen) at 40% of maximum heart rate. So although the theory can be true for many, the rule of thumb is that intensity wins over duration. Doing interval training or exercising at a higher intensity for less time (20 minutes for example) will not only make you fitter faster, leave you burning calories after exercise for longer (afterburn) but will also burn more fat. Although you are burning a smaller percentage of fat at this higher level, it’s a smaller percentage of a much higher total of overall calories burned. It’s like selling 50 t-shirts at a profit of £5 each (low intensity) as opposed to selling 100 t-shirts at £3 each. Exercising at a higher intensity for a shorter time also has the advantage of fitting into the day a bit better.
False. Mostly. I have slightly covered this one already in the fitness myths blog where we looked at spot toning. You cannot train a particular area of the body and then have that area alone be fat free and sexy. If you can get up out of an armchair, and push yourself up with your arms then you have triceps. If you did not then your arm would be a flubbery mess incapable of movement. The problem is that the flabby bingo wings are covering up these muscles. Yes, by doing lots of upper arm exercises you can tone and build the muscle, but it will still be covered up with fat. Only be creating a deficit in the energy you take in and put out will you make the body burn fat and thus reveal the fab arms underneath. The best way of doing this is to eat a good clean wholefood diet, ommiting processed sugars, flour and processed carbohydrates. Dips are a great exercise and will tighten the back of the arms but they are not enough on their own. A basic exercise regime of CV and weights combined with sensible eating is what’s needed. There is a free exercise programe on our knowledge page, where yours truly goes through the exercises on video.
True and False. It really depends on the type of weight training that you are doing. As we have reiterated time and time again weight or strength training is a vital part of any fitness programme, whether for men or women. It becomes increasingly valuable as we get older. As a female you do not have much testosterone, the hormone largely responsible for muscle growth, so even if you train really hard with the weights it is unlikely that you will bulk up. However if you don’t want to look like a weight lifter or one of the Williams sisters, don’t train like one. Keep the repetitions high (14-20) and have shorter rests between sets (from none at all to 30 seconds). Training like this will tone the muscles (an appearance of firmness) and also help to raise your metabolic rate not just during training but all the time. This burns lots of fat! Doing heavy weights to failure where you can only do 8 or so repetitions will build more muscle size, and while this sort of training is a good way to periodise your regime (vary what you are doing very 6 weeks or so) it might not be wise to train like this all the time.