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If you're going to exercise, make it work the effort

Learning Center » Fat Burning Exercise

Fat Burning Exercise

"Get the most out of the time you put into exercising. Walking through the neighborhood with your friends may be an enjoyable social time for you, but you are not resetting the fat thermostat!"

What would you think if told you that you are exercising wrong? You're putting in all this time (or maybe just a feeble effort) in exercising, but you are not losing any weight or seeing any changes in your body. You're not alone. Millions of people have joined the exercise movement over the past 25 years ... but are frustrated with the lack of results.

There are two main reasons for exercising.

  • Cardiovascular conditioning: that means you are working your heart and lungs.
  • Weight loss: this is totally different from cardiovascular conditioning.

And yet most people that are trying as hard as they can to lose weight are just doing cardiovascular conditioning: they are working their heart and lungs, but they are not losing any weight. Sound familiar? These are the ones who you see at the gym or out on the street every day, slaving away for an hour on the treadmill or pounding the pavement all in an attempt to lose those pounds. They are creating a healthy heart and lungs. But they don't lose much weight. Why not?

In this article I am talking to the people who are trying to lose weight through exercise. The first thing you must understand is that jogging or walking for an hour or sitting on an exercise bike for an hour while you read your favorite magazine will not create the changes you want. These slow burn, long duration workouts will keep you in shape, but you won't lose the pounds. Frustrating?

If you go to one of the better gyms in town you will notice that they usually have two types of workout classes. One is an "endurance" class. The other is an "interval" class. Why two different classes? An endurance class is for those that want to keep their heart and lungs in shape, but are not necessarily interested in losing weight. An interval class is for those people who really want to lose the weight. Why? Because interval training is designed to reset your fat thermostat. That has to do with the effectiveness of your metabolism . Interval training is designed to make you burn calories more effectively.

Now here's a quiz question: What is the most important piece of exercise equipment you can ever own? No — not a treadmill. No — not golf clubs. The correct answer is: a heart-rate monitor. Without knowing what your heart rate is while exercising, you cannot work your fat thermostat properly. So that is a wise investment that you really should consider. Get a basic heart rate monitor from any sporting goods store or bike shop. Believe me, it's worth it.

Interval Training

First, you'll need to decide what form of exercise you want to do. Walking. Running. Biking/spinning. Swimming. Rebounding. Elliptical cross trainers. Pick whatever you like to do. For me, I don't like running because I see what it does to the joints like ankles, knees and backs. But if you like running, that's fine. Just do something that you will enjoy and will stick with. I like riding a spin bike, because I can get my heart rate up high in a matter of seconds without pounding my body as in running. You choose. Now here's how:

Let's say you are on a treadmill. Begin by doing a simple 5-minute warm-up. Do it all to your favorite fast-paced music — you'll have more fun that way.

Now before you start the intervals, you first need to know what heart rate you are trying to each. Here are the guidelines:

If you are a beginner and not in great shape, take your age and subtract it from the number 220. (220 - 35 (age) ) = 185. Now multiply that 185 by 70%: 185 x .7 = 129.5. So let's say 130. That's the heart rate you are shooting for.

If you are in fairly good shape and exercise fairly regularly, do the same math and multiply it by 85%: 220 - 35 = 185. 185 x .85 = 151. So the heart rate you are trying to reach will be about 151.

If you are in excellent shape, take 220 - 35 = 185. Then multiply that by 95%. 185 x .9 = 167. Or maybe round it up to 170. That would be your target heart rate.

Now what do you do with that number? After you do your 5-minute warm up, whether it be on a bike, treadmill, elliptical machine, walking or running, comes the fun part. We call this "Grizzly Bear Training." Imagine that after your 5-minute workout, all of a sudden a grizzly bear appears behind you. What would you do? (Please don't say "faint.") You would put your body into high gear and peddle, walk, run or swim as fast as you possibly could. Don't say you can't do that, because you can! All you need to do is take your heart rate up to your target as fast as you can. As soon as you hit that target, the grizzly bear disappears and you will slow down to almost no effort at all. If you are a beginner, this may only take you 40 seconds. The harder your effort, the shorter the amount of time it takes to get the heart rate up to your target.

One of the keys to remember when you hit your target is to almost stop what you are doing. Slow down to maybe 1 or 2 miles an hour and breathe deeply. You are trying to allow your heart rate to come down as fast as possible. You want your heart rate to drop a full 30 points. So if you reached your target of 157, you would slow down completely until your heart rate dropped to 157 - 30 = 127. As soon as you hit 127, the grizzly bear appears again and you "put the peddle to the metal" again, getting your heart rate up to the target as quickly as possible. Use your maximum effort — you'll only have to do it for maybe 1 minute. As soon as you hit the target, slow down to a crawl and let it go down 30 points again.

You will repeat these "sets" of up and down seven or eight times. Then you are DONE! That's it. It will take you no longer than 30 minutes. As you get in better shape, move your target heart rate up higher.

What are some of the benefits to this interval or grizzly bear training? First, you'll burn more fat for a longer period of time. Second, you won't be as hungry all day because of your insulin levels. Third, you won't be as tired, because your heart rate is spiking. The slow burn, long duration exercises like jogging for an hour often leave a person tired and hungry all day long. And the weight loss is minimal. With this type of grizzly bear or interval training, you'll see results, provided that you are not over-dosing on breads, rice, potatoes, sugary desserts, soda pop, fruit juices and other carbs that make you gain weight.

Summary: Get the most out of the time you put into exercising. Walking through the neighborhood with your friends may be an enjoyable social time for you, but you are not resetting the fat thermostat! That will only come with high intensity, short duration workouts as described above. Too many people waste too much time exercising the wrong way. With the time you save doing the interval training, you can now do a little bit of weight training and start finding and toning those muscles as you start to lose the weight. So go get your heart rate monitor and get moving!