In the Sept. issue of Details, there was a fitness article that kind of freaked me out. The gist of the article is that long workouts don’t always equal burnt fat and muscle gain. In fact the article goes onto say that the exact opposite could be occurring.
Normally I don’t pay much attention to the fitness advice that comes along by way of Details. Mostly because the magazine usually has 2 to 3 fitness articles, occasionally contradictory articles in the same issue. Anyway, the reason that this one grabbed my attention was because of the studies that were cited. The article starts out talking about distance runners versus sprinters. It points out that “marathoners” come in all shapes and sizes, some of them don’t appear to be in shape, at all. While sprinters, on the other hand, are almost always lean and cut. This totally grabbed my attention. I have also made that observation. My immediate reaction was, “I need to start sprinting.” Who doesn’t want to be lean and cut?
Next the article cites a study that was conducted to compare the effects of short intensive workouts vs, longer/lower impact workouts-
Participants were separated into two camps. Members of the first group ran as hard as they could for 30 seconds and then rested for four minutes. They repeated this three to five times for a total workout time of 18 to 27 minutes. The second group ran for up to 60 minutes at 65 percent of maximum capacity (think moderate-paced jogging). Both groups ran three times per week for six weeks. Despite exercising for a much shorter time, those in the sprint group saw their total body fat decrease by 12.4 percent, while the other runners lost less than half that much.
Yikes! The sprinters were losing twice as much body fat by working out for less than half as long. This was the part of the article that really freaked me out. Apparently limiting workouts to longer/lower impact activities not only reduces the amount of fat burnt, but it can also reduce existing muscle mass. According to the article,
Researchers at West Virginia University wanted to see how two different routines, plus a very-low-calorie diet, would affect weight loss. One group of participants engaged in resistance training on weight machines that progressed from one to four sets of up to 12 exercises three times per week. The second group performed 50 to 60 minutes of walking, stair climbing, or biking four times per week. At the end of the 12-week study, the aerobic group had lost 19.4 percent of total body weight, while the strength group had lost 14.7 percent. But when body-composition measurements were taken, researchers discovered that one fourth of the weight lost by the aerobic group was muscle.
This is crazy! But I seriously think that I have fallen into this trap. This is me in 2008, when I was first getting into distance running. This is me one year later at the same race. Where did my upper body go?
Anyway, this article has totally motivated me to switch up my workout routine, to include some heavier impact cardio. Who’s with me?