Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Intensity Is the Key

"But methods bucking this conventional take are gaining serious mainstream traction - with the scientific evidence to support some counter-intuitive conclusions. Long, slow runs are pretty good at building endurance for long, slow runs. It's becoming increasingly clear, though, that shorter, more intense bouts boost both short term and long-term exercise capacity, resulting in more efficient workouts that take a fraction of the time.

"The protocol can be used running, swimming, biking, or while performing weighted or bodyweight resistance movements (push-ups are a personal favorite).

"Dr. Tabata's method is just one of many high-intensity interval programs that have gained popularity over the past decade, and the business of fitness is adapting in kind. Some of today's most popular workout methodologies - most notably CrossFit, which occasionally includes Tabata intervals - are based on the scientific superiority of very high-intensity work over long, slow slogs.

"Back in the day we realized that proportionally, we burn more calories from fat at lower intensities. We aptly named this the "fat burning zone." Get on an old-school piece of cardio equipment and you'll see that the lower heart rate zone is labeled "fat burning." But we made a colossal mistake. It's not that we were wrong, necessarily. It's that we were looking at the science through a straw. Yes, we burn more calories proportionately from fat at lower intensity, but we burn far more calories, period, at higher intensity. In other words, if you want to burn fat.the most effective "fat burning zone" is higher intensity training. "


I like that analogy - "looking at the science through a straw".  However, that is still the case for almost every instance of exercise science, including the idea that if the reason we gain fat is something as simple and linear as "calories in, calories out."  While it is undoubtedly true that a person losing fat and gaining or maintaining muscle is in a state of caloric deficit, trying to induce caloric deficit by eating less and moving more has proved a complete failure. 
Which is why CrossFit generally, and yours truly specifically, recommends that you exercise for the physical capacities that are important to you, and that you control body fat accumulation by avoiding foods which signal the body to partition calories ingested towards storage as fat.
In other words, you cannot out train a bad diet.  Or put another way, exercising to help you support a life style of eating nasty neolithic foods is a bad bargain.  Eat for health.  Eat in a way that makes you feel good most of the time, so you don't have such a strong need to reward yourself with food treats.  Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, and no sugar/wheat.
In so doing you can lose the long, boring workouts on a treadmill and exercise with intensity to create greater and more useful improvements in muscle mass and power, anaerobic and aerobic capacity, and positive hormonal and emotional changes as well.

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