Where as losing some unwanted body fat feels like a drink from the fountain of youth, spot reducing has always been the Holy Grail. Let’s be honest, we all have that one (okay) two spots we’d like to lose while the rest is pretty much okay. Billions of dollars have been spent on such remedies as: gels, wraps, abdominal blasters, pills, potions, etc. only to find that they don’t work. Still, some people think, if it’s on T.V. it must be real, there goes more $$$.
Savvy exercise enthusiast and trainers are well aware of the error in this line of reasoning. All the crunches in the world aren’t going to make your abs flat, plastic wraps aren’t going to make your hips smaller, and oatmeal baths and deep tissue massage isn’t ridding you of cellulite just because the spa lady said it would. Lies, lies, lies.
Sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true. I often hear people saying they are afraid to lift weights because they don’t want to gain weight or look bigger. The error is in their perception, they couldn’t be father from the truth and here’s why…
Generally when we say we want to lose weight what we really mean is we want to lose fat, the loose fleshy stuff hanging from arms and thighs or spilling over into a muffin top. Be honest can you pinch some? If not, why read on you’re already a god or goddess. For everyone else, that doughy stuff between your fingers are the glad bags of the body. That’s right, fat is essentially stored energy in the form of fatty acids that can also contain fat soluble chemicals some even toxic.
Have you ever seen a fat sprinter in the Olympics? The fact is that sprinters, whether it is a runner, swimmer or cyclist, tend to have the best muscle to fat ratio in sports. Short duration high intensity exercise not only burns fat, but also builds muscle and increases bone density.
Generally, when most people want to lose weight they cut back on calories and begin a cardio program usually in the form of prolonged low-moderate intensity exercise such as a 45 minute walk or 3 mile jog, etc. Now where this practice would improve cardiovascular health and burn a number of calories while performed, you get virtually no significant bump to metabolism after stopping. In fact without resistance exercise large amounts of cardio can actually lead to a loss of lean body mass thus lowering metabolism.
Knowing how and when to stretch properly is just as important for preventing injury as well as improving performance.
Let me start with a question. Say you have a bag of rubber bands in the refrigerator for safe keeping. Would you take one of the bands and stretch it to its maximum straight out of the cold refrigerator? What do you think might happen? Will it develop some micro tears, maybe tear completely? Not of much use now is it? So, if you wouldn’t want to do this with a rubber band, you probably wouldn’t want to do this with your un-warmed-up muscles either.
As a personal trainer I often have new clients ask me what the correct heart rate training zone should be for fat loss. I have recently read message boards and forums with claims that to lose fat you should stay in the 120-135 bpm zone. The rational comes from the fact that under low level activity our physiology uses much higher percentages of fat as a fuel source. While maintaining this pace for 20-30 minutes will render benefits in weight loss and conditioning and is a good course for older participants or those with restrictions, the fact is the caloric expenditure is too small.