Summer is here (well supposed to be) and as per usual as soon as the first rays of sun hit the ground out come the runners. During the last couple of weeks whilst training clients in Victoria park, well street common and Epping forest the numbers of people out running, starting their ‘summer fitness regime’ amazes me, mostly because this is one of the least effective ways to lose fat and get that toned looked.
There are several reasons why long slow endurance exercise, such as running, cross trainer, rowing, cycling and such aren’t the best way of dropping the fat, which I will explain in this post
Whilst running is great for the cardiovascular system, it improves lung capacity and heart fitness there are much more effective ways to drop fat and tone up which are a lot less boring.
When you start out running, as most people do in their quest for weight loss, it may be and feel like quite an effort, but your body soon gets used to the process and is quick to adapt. It becomes economical at the motion, therefore improving and finding it progressively easier…which means less effort = less energy consumed! Less energy used up, to put it bluntly equates to less fat loss. Most people find that they soon plateau with their weight loss after starting running.
Now what happens immediately after running? As running is a less intense and less demanding form of exercise on the body you recover from it quite quickly, so you are only getting the benefit during the time you are actually out pounding the street. There are other forms of exercise however such as interval training, resistance based cardio sessions, where, due to the demands placed on the body’s systems the benefits are still going on for up to 24hrs later…resulting in elevated fat burning long after, even whilst resting up on the couch or asleep in bed…nice!! This is known as the afterburn effect and will be discussed in further detail in the next blog.
Next is the effect on the physiology of the body as we run more, for longer time periods and further distances. We know the body becomes economical at the process as our body adapts, it becomes better and we use less energy. Partly due to running not requiring much skeletal muscle strength, the response is that it reduces the muscle mass of the body. Firstly muscle weighs a lot so carrying that extra weight makes running harder and secondly because of a hormonal reaction to running. After exercise for certain periods of time, the body produces cortisol (a stress hormone) which causes the breakdown of muscle for an energy source…also reducing the muscle mass. Think of any marathon runner, they tend to be very lean with no muscle mass. It has also been proven in studies that there is a link between cortisol and fat storage around the stomach area, so a high level of this hormone can have a hugely detrimental impact on your fat loss achievements.
Muscle is important, even doing nothing it burns energy, like a furnace so the more we have the more energy you burn on a daily basis just doing your everyday things = more fat burning! Running reduces the muscle mass, lowers your metabolism, reduces fat burning abilities and make fat loss a whole lot harder!
Lastly is the effect of running on your body in terms of damage, it is pretty high impact and very repetitive which are the 2 perfect ingredients for injuries. Knees, ankles, hips and back injuries….all of which are so common in runners and so much more so later on in life. As if this wasn’t bad enough, there is much less, if any fat loss whilst you are unable to do any exercise due to injury. If you do run make sure you are wearing a good pair of
running trainers, get them fitted properly and make sure you change them around once every year to a year and a half depending on how often you run.
So what is the answer??
Firstly it’s to add variety to your training, diversity, plenty of differently demanding activities. This will keep your body guessing and keep it from getting economical. Which means you will constantly be putting a demand on it to burn calories. Try classes, different sports or new exercises.
Secondly is resistance. Add resistance to your workouts with weights, medicine balls, resistance bands or kettle bells. One it’s going to retain muscle, because you will be using them a lot harder so there is a need to retain them, and in doing so will keep that metabolism high. As well as this it is simply much more demanding so will burn more calories in a shorter time!
Next increase the intensity, similarly to adding resistance; this will make what you are doing harder. Placing higher demands on the body call for greater adaptation which equals better results, it will also elevate the metabolism for longer, the afterburn effect. Add intensity by reducing rest time, sprinting (use a football pitch to jog the length and sprint the ends), running uphill (great on the knees too), interval training/ circuit classes, and
short bursts of body weight exercises, with little rest times between.
So by all means go for a jog, get outside and enjoy the sun, when it comes. But don’t rely on this to get you that body you wanted. Keep the runs short and infrequent, or add some sprints in there, mix up your training add weights and push harder in short burst and you will see much better results in a shorter time.
Paul @ myfitnesspro
myfitnesspro – personal training in Epping, Theydon Bois, Loughton, Chigwell, Buckhurst Hill, Highams Park, Chingford, Woodford, South Woodford, Grange Hill, Woodford Bridge, Wanstead, Leytonstone, Walthamstow, Stratford, Bow, Mile End, Canary Wharf, Canning Town, Docklands, E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, E8, E9, E10, E11, E14, E15, E17, E18, IG7, IG8, IG9, IG10 and all areas in between