Thursday, 30 January 2014

Its Official - LSDC Sucks!!

Long slow distance cardio sucks, I think we've all know this for a long time. But their are still many individuals that still believe the old myth of staying within the fat burning zone on our favourite cardio machines such as stationary bikes, cross trainers and treadmills in the hope it will shed lots of unwanted lbs!

The reality is long slow distance cardio is boring, its time wasting, it may cause injury, and while it may burn some fat it will also burn precious muscle giving you that not very attractive 'skinny fat' look as you can see in the picture below.  It will NOT give you results and it will NOT give you the desired shape you are longing for.

Marathon runner on the left and a sprinter on the right.  A marked difference in body composition you'll agree.
So which would you rather be?

Now I am not completely ditching the idea of LSDC in some cases it may be all you can do.  Such as you being obese or very overweight or you are coming back from rehab.  Then it is not a bad place to start, you could walk for a time or a distance and better this over a given period. But please don't get stuck in this one 'mode' look outside the box and challenge yourself for greater rewards.

So lets look at what research tells us about cardio and body compositions, here is the first of three studies:

1.  Utter AC et al - Influence of diet and / or exercise on body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness in obese women - International Journal of Sports Nutrition September 1998  -  In this 3 month study, women did 45 minutes of cardio a day 5 days per week and lost no more weight than those who dieted alone.

2.  Redman et al - The effect of calorie restriction with or without exercise on body composition and fat distribution - The Journal of Clinical Endocrinol Metabolism January 2007  -  In this study subjects did 50 minutes of cardio 5 days per week and lost no more weight than those who dieted alone.

What about an hour x 6 days of the week, any better results?  A resounding NO!
3.  McTiernan et al - Exercise effect on weight and body fat on men and women.- Obesity Journal June 2007  -  Over the course of 1 year, subjects performed 1 hour of aerobic exercise 6 days per week and lost just 3.5 lbs on average over the entire year!

Now don't know about you, but to me that's pretty soul destroying.  There has to be a better way, surely? And yes, that way is interval training or commonly known these days as HIIT or VIIT.  HIIT high intensity and VIIT variable intensity interval training is bursts of intense exercise alternated with a recovery burst.  Repeated for a period of time.  This way of training can be applied on cardio machines mentioned above (but its certainly not LSDC) and also works very well with body weight exercises and weights.

The 'Tabata' fat loss method has also become very popular again.  It is the same principles as mentioned, bursts with recovery.  It is made up of 8 lots of 20 seconds effort with 10 seconds recovery, so you are working for a total of 4 minutes.  May not sound a lot but believe me it is quite taxing.  But because it is hard work, your body will have a lot of repairing to do and while it is doing this your body will be burning from your fat stores.  While LSDC may burn a small proportion of fat while you are doing it you will also recover very quickly.  You don't get an after burn effect like you do when doing interval training. 

It's the way to go, stay tuned for some interval ideas.  But if you can't wait that long check out my previous 'Legs & Lungs' workouts and make a start with them, you won't regret it :)

Till next time, all the best


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Ten Ways to Beat the Post January Blues

Its mid January already, all the excitement of Christmas and the New Year have gone. And I don't know about you but around this time I just feel a little under deflated. You may have made some New year's resolutions at the start of the year and may now not be following them through. The weather is still cold and gloomy and you may not be feeling very inspired to get out but its very normal to be feeling a bit fed up in January.

But the positives are the mornings are getting a little lighter, the evenings are getting longer before darkness descends and my daffodils are starting to think about showing themselves :)

Here are 10 extra ways to beat those January blues and gain some positivity to see you through 2014!

  1. Get Active - now I'm not just talking the gym environment, but anything that gets you moving.  It needs to be something you will enjoy doing.  If this means dancing with your partner at a local salsa club then do it. If you'd rather dance in your front room by yourself look for a dance DVD or grab your Wii dance game and away you go. If you like to be outdoors then sign up for local events such as the Cancer Research Walks and / or runs, the London to Brighton (which I am doing again this year). Or if your game try a 'Tough Mudder'.  The world is your oyster when it comes to being active, just bite the bullet and do it!
  2. Get more sleep - experts tell us that as an adult we should be getting between 7 - 9 hours sleep.  Although they seem to agree that there isn't really a magic number, everyone is different.  If you feel lethargic and sleepy during the day (and its not nutritionally related) it may be due to a lack of sleep. So see if a few more z's make a difference.
  3. Set some goals - when I see my clients, we always set some goals.  Something we write down to help them towards achieving their goals.  We use the acronym SMART this stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. We break these down into short term goals that can be achieved in a number of weeks to longer term goals that will be achieved in say 6 months to a year. 
  4. Exercise sensibly - please use your common sense.  In the gym industry we use the word 'overtraining' a lot.  Exercise is very hard on our bodies and it is very easy to get lost in the 'high' or endorphin rush exercise brings to you. So please be sensible, don't go mad on your first session and set yourself up to fall. If you are overweight and you are a 'new resolutionist runner' who is pounding the roads (I've seen you) please think about the long term damage you are causing to your back, knees and ankles. Be sensible, speak to an expert.  Don't exercise 7 times a week, there's no need, you are setting yourself up for injury. If you are new to the gym find an instructor or personal trainer who will design a programme specifically for you. Don't go mad with weights, and don't copy other people if you do not know what you are doing. Everyone has to start somewhere, even Arnie!
  5. Try a relaxation class - methods such as the Alexander Technique or Tai-Chi and Yoga are a fabulous way of letting go of all your stresses. 
  6. Eat well - I'm not telling you anything you don't already know or could find in a book or through the media.  But keep an open mind and don't believe everything you hear, especially this time of year. My philosophy is if it swam in the sea, grazed on the land, grew from the land, or flew in the sky its probably okay to eat. If it was made in a factory (or indeed a lab) it's at best avoided or eaten in moderation. If you get a variety of real foods, eaten little and often through the day and drink plenty of water you can't go wrong.
  7. If you are a drinker, try one or two alcohol free days.  Just like smoking, alcohol is addictive. The more we consume, the more our bodies get used to it and the harder it is to stop. Excessive drinking will cause irreparable damage to your liver.  Therefore a minimum of one or two days per week tee total will reduce your risk of developing conditions such as 'fatty liver syndrome'.  More information check out 'drink aware' on the following link
  8. Reduce / Recycle your things - recycling greatly contributes to improving our environment.  It should be easy to do this, as most of us receive different waste bins.  One for general waste, another for garden waste and one for tins, glass, plastics and the like.  If you don't make a call to your local council and ask.  Other easy suggestions to implement straight away (if your not already) is when shopping to look for products that can be recycled such as glass jars and tins.  Or why not try a product that has been recycled such as Tesco's Recycled Toilet Tissue.
  9. In the same vain as above why not 'Explore ways of healing our-self or/and the planet'.  This may be to stop altogether using plastics or look for a recycled alternative. Reduce your carbon foot print by buying locally produced produce from a nearby farm. Chances are the fruit and vegetables have been picked less than 24 hours so they will be 100% nutritionally perfect and there's less travel time involved in getting them to you.  Also reconnect with outside, go for a walk or a bike ride.  This will help you to make the right environmentally friendly decisions. 
  10. Do something good for someone - the genuine feeling of reward and accomplishment from this one small thing is huge! This could knocking on a neighbours door and popping in for a chat or doing small jobs (especially if they are elderly and/or live alone). Sharing taking kids to school runs, volunteering at a school, retirement home, charity shop etc., the list is endless.
Right there we have it, ten ways to become a positive influence on either yourself or others around you.  So come on, make a difference now :)

All the best, take care
Till next time