The truth is, scientists have been dumbfounded by the fact that research has proven that a weight loss program based on diet and exercise is no more effective at promoting weight loss than diet alone.
That’s right…almost every study found that the people who combined diet with hours of jogging every week lost as much weight as those folks who followed the diet without sitting foot in the gym or lacing up their running shoes.
Surprising and counterintuitive, I know…
Even in the few studies that found some benefit to exercise combined with diet, the weight loss benefit was so small as to render the result “not worth the effort”.
“But,” you must be thinking, “you can’t actually believe that exercise is not helpful for losing weight?”
Spoiler Alert: You’re right, I don’t believe that; but, I DO believe that those researchers made a huge mistake that rendered the exercise program almost totally ineffective at helping people achieve the very goal they’re after…to lose weight, specifically, fat, any exercise will not do the job.
…before I tell you the mistake, let me tell you the key success factor for building an exercise program that works.
If you look to exercise as a calorie burning event rather than a hormonal event then you will be wasting your time! (Read that again…it’s that important)
You eat and exercise to manage hormones, NOT to manage calories! This becomes even more important after you burn the “easy fat” at the start of your program and move into the “stubborn fat” most people struggle to lose after the first 10-20 pounds.
The reality is, you can burn more calories jogging for 60 minutes than you can in a 20-minute high-intensity interval session. Likewise, you can burn more calories in a spinning class than you can in the same amount of time lifting weights…
If, however, you perform interval training or resistance training properly, it will result in more fat being burned per session than practically any other form of exercise because of the metabolic aftershock that can occur for hours afterwards!
It’s not about the calories; it’s about triggering a cascade of hormones that results in your body wanting to burn fat, not just for the 20-minute exercise session, but for up to 36 hours afterwards! You should know that this is NOT the body’s default setting…
Your body has little incentive to burn fat, especially as you get closer to your goal weight. Instead, the body prefers to keep you a little fat just in case there is a famine!
So…the goal of your exercise session should be to change your body’s natural and innate desire to keep you “fat” by flooding it with hormones that scream to your cells “burn this %&$#@ fat!”
When done right, your exercise session does just that…when done wrong, you may find yourself staring at a stagnant scale wondering what the hell happened!
So, the big mistake that people make is viewing exercise as a way to manage or burn calories, rather than a way to shift the body’s hormonal tendency to store and keep fat!
If burning calories is your goal then go for a long jog, if you want to burn fat, however, focus on “Metabolic Exercise”.
It is any exercise that causes your endocrine system to squeeze some fat-burning, muscle building hormones into the blood. The end result is a body that works for your fat loss goals, not against them!
I’ll get into specific types of metabolic exercise in just a moment, first let’s cover the “why”…
Why Metabolic Exercise Works
When we were cave-people, we were under the constant threat of starvation. So, our body chemistry became very good at storing fat.
Aside from starvation, we were also under the constant threat of being eaten by lions, tigers, and bears.
Being excessively overweight would ready us for a long famine, but it would also make us a tasty target for predators and would also make us slow and easy to catch. So, when our brain gets the signal that danger is in the area, the metabolism kicks up to keep us agile and aerodynamic.
In essence, the immediate danger of becoming dinner to some hungry animal becomes more important to your survival than storing a ton of extra fat…so, your body gives you permission to lean out.
In order to get the most out of exercise, we need to send the signal that danger is in the area. We need to signal to the body that we need to be lean, quick, and agile or risk becoming dinner for a predator.
This is where most people go wrong…
Most people don’t realize that intensity is what sends the signals to the body to burn fat and strengthen the muscles…
Jogging sends the signal that you have a lot of work to do (indicated by lots of calories being burned), so your body should restore the energy lost as soon as possible. Sprinting and heavy lifting sends signals that strength and speed are important to your survival.
Wait a minute though…
You’re well read on the subject, you know about high intensity interval training and you may even agree that it’s superior to jogging, but here’s where you run into problems…
There’s “high-intensity interval training” (HIIT) and there’s “kick-butt, high-intensity, fat-incinerating, interval training” (KBHIFIIT). I doubt that this acronym will catch on like “HIIT”…
High-intensity interval training involves alternating between a hard sprint and a light walk. Not bad, but not enough to turn your body into a fat burning machine.
Kick-butt, high-intensity, fat-incinerating, interval training involves alternating between a hard, muscle-burning, almost-sick-to-your-stomach, all-out sprint and a slow steady recovery walk.
The mistake is that most people end the sprint before reaching such a state of temporary muscle exhaustion. They stop at the first sign of the muscle burn or after getting slightly out of breath.
You must sound the metabolic alarms to trigger the fat-burning metabolism. If the sprint-phase is not sufficiently aggressive, and you don’t push through the burn for long enough, then you’ll lose out on as much as 80% of the fat-burning benefit.
So, let me give you an exercise hack that will likely guarantee success with HIIT, and then I’l tell you what’s EVEN BETTER than KBHIFIIT!
First you must accept that interval training is hard work. To really do it well, you must learn to feel the burn and push through it. Trust me, it doesn’t come naturally. Pushing through the burn is an acquired skill.
Once you’ve accepted this truth, try out this technique to virtually guarantee that you’ll reach the metabolic threshold needed to turn your body into a lean, mean, fat-burning machine.
At your next interval session, you have just one goal…Beat your “calories-burned” and/or “distance-ran” in the same time period as your previous session…even if just by one calorie or one-tenth of a mile.
I call this, “Workout Density” because it accentuates the amount of intensity within a set time rather than how much time you spend working out.
Remember, it’s not about the calories-burned or the distance run; it’s about working harder than the previous interval session. We simply use calories and/or distance as a representation of intensity. (I like using calories rather than distance because it allows you to alter the incline in addition to the distance)
If you follow this formula, and simply beat your previous session each and every time, eventually you’ll reach the point where your session will be a kick-butt, high-intensity, fat incinerating, interval training workout. This usually happens within 2-4 sessions.
In the end, you’ll know that every session will move you closer to your fat loss goals. In fact, you’ll know the moment you step off of the treadmill that your workout counted! That…is a great feeling!
Three words…Metabolic Resistance Training.
…but you should know that you can fall into a similar trap with this type of training as well.
Metabolic resistance training involves lifting weights or doing body-weight exercises in such a way that triggers the same hormonal event we see in interval training but with the added benefit of beating up our muscles so that they want to get stronger!
In addition, with Metabolic Resistance Training you have the ability to exercise both upper and lower body muscles!
How do you make sure that each metabolic resistance training counts in the same way as the KBHIFIIT?
First, you keep your workout sessions from 15 minutes to no more than 30 minutes. This allow us to focus on exercise density rather than length.
Second, you stick to compound exercises that work the big muscles of the body. A compound exercise is an exercise that uses multiple joints all at once. For example, you might do a squat with a military press at the end or, a body weight alternative would be burpees! The point is to use as many muscles in a single exercise as possible. No arm curls or triceps push-downs because they work little muscles that won’t trigger the hormone cascade that we’re after…
Third you keep your rests between sets very, very short. This is where the concept of “rest-pause training” comes in…
Rest-pause training involves working out until the burn and fatigue of the muscles overwhelms your ability to perform the exercise with good form. Then you rest long enough for the burn to dissipate enough to continue the workout.
Unlike other forms of exercise which have you on a rest timer, 60 seconds for example, rest-pause training accentuates the hormonal reaction in your body by having you rest only as long as necessary to allow you to perform the exercise with good form.
The simplicity of rest-pause training is pure genius because we are all very different in how quickly our body recovers from the exercise. If we can get back to work in 10 seconds, why should we wait 60 seconds?
The other key premise of rest-pause training is that it views rest as a synergy to the exercise, not as the opposite of the exercise.
In other words, the rest is vitally important to the exercise because it allows you to do more exercise! So, you should never feel bad about resting, you should actually feel GOOD about resting!
Just remember, use the promise of the rest as the motivation to press through the early burn and do a couple more reps until the burn actually begins to interfere with form! Then rest. That’s the secret key to the kingdom of lean and fit!
The ABSOLUTE BEST rest-pause based metabolic resistance training program on the market it Metabolic Prime by Dr. Jade Teta! It’s better than Bodyrock Tv, better then Insanity, or T25… You can check out Dr. Jade’s Metabolic Prime program by clicking here and get more details on the science of Rest-Pause training.
Dr. Ray Hinish is a nutritional pharmacist, certified personal trainer, & certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach. He currently practices in Baltimore, MD, where he owns and operates a wellness center and natural foods restaurant. His mission is to help folks to live their health potential so that they can pursue their passions with confidence and endless supplies of energy!