Why all the fuss about sports? Isn’t it enough that you’re cutting down on your calories? And we’re asking you to go through more physical pain?? Well, I’m sorry if I’m not giving you the answer you want to hear, but yes! Physical activity is indispensable to any weight loss program. In fact, if you choose the right type of exercise, it can assist in the fat burning process and help you gain muscle weight. I’m sure you’re thinking “Johnny Bravo is not the style I’m looking for”. Believe me, no one can become like Johnny while working out their muscles 2 or 3 times per week. It takes more intensive workout and a specific diet. When we say muscle weight, we’re talking about a higher metabolism and a faster weight loss. So, take out those gym clothes you never wore and join us so you can learn more about the right exercise for you!
In order to work out, your body needs energy. The latter can be provided by 3 substrates: glucose (from carbohydrates), fatty acids (from fat) and/or amino acids (from proteins). The substrate used depends on the exercise and specifically on the amount of oxygen that reaches the muscles.
During the first 8 seconds of a workout, the body uses the energy it had stored. These stores are very limited.
So, the next minute or two, it enters a phase called “anaerobic glycolysis”. Glucose from the blood or the muscles is broken down without the presence of oxygen. This happens when the intensity of a workout is high enough that the body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the supply available. Glucose provides energy 18 to 19 times faster than other substrates. And that’s why it is the only one capable of providing fuel for high intensity, short duration activities.
An example of anaerobic activity is a 200m swim, a sprint or a basketball, football or soccer sudden movement. The byproduct of this metabolism is called lactate. The latter accumulates and leads to two major events:
- Decrease in pH causing fatigue and muscle soreness
- Stimulation of muscle growth
This is why one cannot perform those high intensity activities for a prolonged period. In order to maintain the activity, one should decrease intensity.
When intensity is decreased, the body shifts to “aerobic metabolism” which allows it to use oxygen while breaking down substrates for energy. This is the case of low intensity, long duration exercise. Fat becomes the major fuel source with little contribution of glucose and amino acids. Workout can be sustained for 6 to 10 hours. The limiting factor to this type of activity is the availability of glucose in the body. In fact, when stores are depleted, fatigue comes and the activity is no longer possible.
Any kind of workout involves all three pathways mentioned above. However, intensity and duration determine the percentage of glucose, fat or amino acids used.
Fat burning can be done through long duration, low intensity aerobic activities: at least 30 minutes of walking, swimming, treadmill, elliptical trainer, jogging, cycling, lifting light weights with numerous repetitions (15-20) etc. During this type of exercise, the body does not need fast energy, so it turns mostly to fat.
GAIN MUSCLE WEIGHT
In order for a muscle to gain strength and volume, you should submit it to high resistance training: push-ups, abs, weight lifting (high weights with few repetitions, 3-6). The aim of this activity is not to provide bulk to the muscles but to shape them, increase your metabolism and maintain all the kilos lost after a diet. You should note that it is very important to rest your muscles to allow them to replenish their supplies and repair any possible damage. Therefore, you can either go to the gym 3 times a week or, if you insist on going on consecutive days, work out different muscles every day.
A final important part of your workout is to perform stretching activities that use the major muscle groups, enough to develop and maintain a full range of motion: 2 to 4 repetitions of 15 to 30 seconds per muscle group. Yoga is also a good idea.
KEEP IN MIND…
- The best way to become physically fit is to combine all three kinds of workout mentioned above.
- The more you train, the better your body will be able to oxidize all fuels, especially fat.
- Good conditioning is important for the cardio-respiratory system to supply oxygen. So, do not wear jackets in the middle of summer thinking they will make you sweat and lose more weight; they will only stand in the way of your training.
No weight loss can be achieved or maintained without proper physical activity. Set your goals and choose the adequate exercise to reach them. I’m sure you’ll start enjoying sports after a short while!