Is there such a thing as the wrong type of exercise
Written by John Allan.
Published at 01:02 GMT on Monday 4th February, 2013.
CUMBERNAULD fitness guru, John Allan asks ‘Is there such a thing as the wrong type of exercise?’ in his latest blog for Cumbernauld Media.

Is there such a thing the wrong type of exercise?

If your goal is 'weight' loss then yes.

I'm afraid there is.

Now when people talk about 'weight' loss, they really mean fat loss. After all fat is metabolically inactive and doesn't look too good under the skin. It causes all manner of health implications.

From now on I'm taking fat loss.

If you want that nice 'toned' look, then lose the fat that sits on top of the muscle.

Please remember though, you can't spot reduce fat from around the abdominal area by exercising the particular area, i.e. with sit ups, or remove the 'bingo wings' by doing triceps kickbacks.

Your body will decide where the fat is burned from cell by cell.

With that in mind then, if you want to burn fat, you have to do the exercises that involve the biggest muscle groups in the body that means bringing as many joints into the movement as possible. Like the squat below which, works a huge part of the body, in one movement

Best all round move… the Squat. Hold that thought for a moment.

Couple these big exercises with something called intensity and you have a winning combination.

in•ten•si•ty  (n-tns-t)

n. pl. in•ten•si•ties
1. Exceptionally great concentration, power, or force.

When a person exercises, they stress the body. By keeping sessions short stress is limited and so are the effects...

What are the effects of stress?

A hormone known as cortisol is released to give you instant energy. Called the flight or fight hormone it is what kept us alive back in the days of sabre tooth tigers.Instant energy  would give us a burst of speed to run like hell or the strength to stand and fight for life.

It was only intended to get us out of danger

The problem with excessive cortisol, is that it's breaks down muscle. This is a problem for fat burning, as muscle is the only thing in the body that can burn fat.

Less muscle=slower metabolism, making body fat easier to store.

Getting back to exercise...

If you are new to exercising, then just going for a walk will give you health benefits, as will jogging, Zumba, and the like

However, the body, as clever as it is will adapt to those things really quite quickly and the benefits will be short lived. So if you had noticed a slight change about your body, it will pretty much stay at that.

When the adaptations aren't as forthcoming it is pretty normal to think, as I used to myself, that I would need to walk, run or exercise for longer. This isn’t the case at all.

We start to increase stress on the body and cortisol levels go up.

The solution is to exercise for less time but do it really intensely. I mean work as hard as you can, using the big muscles in the body. This will really ramp up your metabolism and be burning fat for 36 hours after maybe even longer.

Yes, you will burn fat doing other types of exercise but if it’s not intense enough, the fat burn will stop when you do.

Best type of exercises for fat burning?

Lift weights- heavy weights at that, something that will challenge you. Lifting something far too light will do nothing for you at all. Ladies, it is a myth that you will bulk up. It isn't going to happen. 

Some of you will probably lift the kids up and down, and they are far heavier than the weight being lifted in the gym, I bet you haven't bulked up.

Sprints- run as fast as you can for 30 seconds; recover for a couple of minutes and repeat Body weight exercises, squats lunges press ups. 

Circuit training- short intense bursts of exercise will short breaks in between.

Metabolic Conditioning- increases the storage and delivery of energy for activity.

These types of exercise will take you out of the comfort zone and force your body to adapt to what you are doing to it. You must keep it guessing. These types of sessions will build lean tissue which will help burn fat.

Now a marathon runner puts in an awful lot of training miles. I take my hat off to these people as they are doing something I will never do. How does their body measure up to a sprinter’s? What are the differences?

Still thinking more exercise is better?

Let’s look at a comparison...Sprinter V Marathoner

A sprinter will have so much more muscle because the training they do is all for power and speed. The sprint is over in a matter of seconds. The more muscle a body has the less fat as muscle is metabolically active and needs more energy to maintain it.

The marathoner, despite all the activity will have less muscle due to cortisol and stress giving them a higher body fat % than the sprinter. Other hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone are suppressed making muscle growth extremely unlikely.

It is not uncommon for Joe Public, when training for a marathon to stop losing fat and even put some on, due to the body's muscle mass being compromised and the metabolism slowing down.

If you want to achieve the toned look, then the answer is to train with intensity, really challenge your body and keep the sessions short. 20-30 minutes is ideal.

The picture on the left is of someone who is skinny fat. Yes they are thin, but with very little muscle, meaning more in the way of fat.

The other picture shows what happens when you train the biggest muscle in the body.

Which do you prefer?

So there you have it. A brief look at how doing the wrong type of exercise can work against you.

Until next time; stay healthy, stay strong.
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