Last week, we talked about what aerobic training is, who it is for, and introduced the misguided notions about it in part 1 of this series.
Today, I am going to focus on fat loss and why the treadmill is not my favorite tool for such goals.
Anytime you add a new training stimulus, the body will adapt to that. For a lot of people, they join a gym and start with the treadmill, elliptical, or bike.
It does not matter which method they choose, they will see some immediate results.
Why is it that you can go to a commercial gym and see the same people running on the treadmill, every day, and they look exactly the same?
There are 3 main reasons that something like this can happen- diet, efficiency, and muscle mass.
Most people are overweight, or want to look better, due to poor dietary choices. 99% of the time diet is the culprit for gaining fat. A common analogy is if you keep hitting your head against a wall, you will get a headache. Taking an Advil will not help until you stop banging your head against the wall. Poor dietary habits is the same as banging your head against the wall. Exercise can help minimize the impact of a poor diet but it cannot act alone. The underlying issue must be solved first. If a bad diet got someone fat in the first place, it will continue to get them fat without dietary change.
A topic that I briefly discussed in the last post was efficiency. The cardiovascular system wants to be efficient. If we can efficiently produce energy and pump blood to and from the heart then the body will be running well. At first, the body will use a lot of stored fat and calories to run. Once the body gets better at running, less calories will be burned to get the job done. We now must run longer, faster, or more frequently. But where does it end?
The cycle will never stop and we will be forced to keep running and running. Running beats the crap out of the body and eventually this process ends with some kind of injury. The injury puts someone on the shelf for a while and all of those fat loss efforts are now lost. Not everyone will get hurt but anyone that runs enough experiences some kind of minor or major pain.
Combatting this issue of efficiency is done with muscle mass. When I say muscles mass, I am not talking about looking like Arnold in the 70’s. There is no need to panic about getting bulky. In fact, those seeking weight loss have already ate their way to being bulky so I am not really sure what the issue with lifting weights is.
Increasing muscles mass while losing fat makes for a more dense and attractive appearance. The real benefit to increasing lean muscle mass (LMM) is that the fat loss starts to be done for you. The more LMM, the more calories that will be burned during exercise and at rest. Your body will be contributing to your efforts when you aren’t even doing anything. This is the antagonist to efficiency from prolonged cardio.
The best part about all of the things I have talked about above is that we can still do cardio without the treadmill. Metabolic resistance training is using weights to train our energy systems. If we perform resistance training exercises with low intensity and short rest periods for a long duration then we can get a cardiac effect.
Perform the following exercises for 10 minutes.
- DB Bench Press x8
- Squats x8
- Single Arm DB Row x8e
- Single Leg DB RDL x8e
- Farmer Carry x as far as needed
- Pushups x8
- Lunges x8e
- Plank with reach x8e
This is just one way that a circuit can provide the desired cardio.
Remember that just because great results came from the treadmill at first does not mean that they are sustainable. There is nothing wrong with running but it is not a long lasting strategy. Feel free to mix it in but know that fat loss will derive from increasing LMM and dietary change.