Tag Archive | "weight loss"

treadmill burger

You Can’t Outrun a Bad Diet!

Week in, week out I see the same people doing the same cardio workouts. Minute after minute, hour after hour they spend cycling, rowing, running or attending group exercise classes and yet very few of them seem to lose any weight. What gives? Regardless of whether you are a high intensity interval training advocate or prefer a more sedate cardio zone workout, we all know that prolonged cardiovascular burns fat so why then are these people not losing weight? The answer is, quite simply, they are trying to outrun a poor diet and failing miserably to win the race.

On average, an hour of cardio will burn around 600 calories—yes I know that depends on bodyweight, intensity, exercise modality etc but it’s a pretty fair average. So, you do that hour of cardio five times a week to total around 3,000 calories of expended energy. A single pound of excess body fat is worth around 3,500 stored calories so, with all things being equal, someone performing five hours of aerobic exercise should lose a little under a pound a week. Surely then, after a few months of consistent cardio exercise, there should be a significant and noticeable weight loss. Shame this generally isn’t the case.

In very simple terms, if your diet is excessively calorie dense i.e. you are eating more than you need, you are going to have to do more than plug in your i-pod and trot on the treadmill if you want to lose weight. It doesn’t matter that you are in your so-called fat burning zone—if you are eating more than you need, you won’t lose weight and are probably merely reducing your rate of weight gain.

Surely it would make more sense to combine a moderate amount of exercise with eating a little less? All that endless cardio without dietary interventions is like running on the proverbial hamster wheel…you just end up going nowhere. Of course there is nothing wrong with exercising for prolonged periods if you enjoy it or because your sport e.g. long distance running requires it but if you want to see weight loss, as apparently 4 out of 5 exercisers do, surely you want the best results possible for your investment of exercise time? Interestingly, recent studies indicate that prolonged cardiovascular exercise increases  cravings for carbohydrates and appetite generally so, it would seem, no sooner have the calories been ”burnt off” than our bodies want to replace them quick-smart!

Amazingly, you need relatively little exercise to develop a good level of fitness, strength and enjoy the health benefits associated with working out. It’s the intensity of your exercise that triggers most of the positive responses associated with exercise and not the duration. Studies by Dr. Izumi Tabata have demonstrated that a 4 minute high intensity interval training session (yes – four minutes…that’s not a typo) produces improvements in anaerobic and aerobic fitness. For more details on Tabata’s training protocol check out this article… http://www.ultra-fitmagazine.co.uk/?p=612 Another short but sharp cardiovascular training protocol is GXP which stands for Graded Exercise Protocol which promises improved aerobic fitness in 12 minutes or less. For information on GXP visit http://www.ageless-athletes.com/aerobics_and_health.php

So— to summarize…you can’t outrun a bad diet. Weight management is, to quote fitness and nutrition author Mark Sissons, 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. If you are performing hours and hours of cardio for weight loss and not seeing the results you want (and deserve) your diet is the problem and not your exercise routine. Say no to hamster cardio and do the best weight management exercises known to man— the table push away and the fork put down!

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Cardio for fat loss – what’s best?

treadmill legs


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When it comes to using cardio to burn fat and lose weight, there are 2 schools of thought…

In one camp we have the long, slow, distance approach or LSD for short. LSD is all about selecting an exercise and performing it for extended periods of time at a comfortable pace. Heart rate is kept around 60% of maximum so you are slightly out of breath but comfortable for the duration of your workout. You can chat to anyone nearby should you so choose and almost all of the energy you are using is coming from fat being burnt. LSD is almost 100% aerobic (meaning with oxygen) and very little lactic acid will be produced in your muscles so it’s quite comfortable to perform. On the downside, although fat is the main source of energy in LSD type exercise, you won’t be burning much of it as our body’s are very efficient at making fat go a long way.

In the other camp we have interval training which describes periods of high-intensity exercise alternated with periods of rest e.g. sprinting for 60 seconds, walking for 120 seconds, repeated 5 times. Interval training is more anaerobic (without oxygen) than LSD and generally tougher to do as there is lots of lactic acid produced which can be uncomfortable. However, the production of lactic acid produces an effect called EPOC (Excessive Post exercise Oxygen Consumption) which means that after the workout has finished the body uses oxygen at an elevated rate to clear out the lactic acid in your blood. This means more calories are burnt even though your workouts will be shorter when compared to LSD.

Which is better for fat burning? Interval training wins hands down for economy of training time but LSD training is certainly less demanding. The answer is probably to do a mixture of the 2 and get the best of both worlds!

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Lady exercising

Cardio Confusion – your guide to CV exercise Part Two

Different approaches to aerobic training
So now you know how to monitor your exercise intensity and how long/how often to exercise, let’s look at the different ways you can choose to perform your aerobic activity…

LSD – and no, not the drug!
LSD stands for Long Slow Distance training and it the method that most exercisers “fall into” when they embark on a cardio training programme. LSD training is exactly as it sounds – performed at a relatively slow pace for extended periods of time. LSD training builds base level aerobic fitness and conditions the body for extended workouts. LSD is performed at around 60% of MHR or around RPE level 5 and may be performed for as long as an hour or more. LSD training has the advantage of not being overly exhausting but on the down side requires a greater time commitment compared to some other methods we’ll discuss later. LSD is a vital component of training for marathon running and long distance cycling but while a necessary part of endurance athletes training, many fitness enthusiasts use LSD for weight management in the hope that it will result in substantial amounts of fat loss.

While exercising at LSD pace fat provides the primary source of energy however, fat is so energy dense – 9 kcal per gram – that even extended workouts result in only relatively small amounts being oxidised (burnt). Regardless of pace, running a single mile uses around 100 kcal and 1 pound of excess body fat contains about 3,500 kcal so to lose a pound through slow paced aerobic exercise alone it would be necessary to run 35 miles! Chances are that’s more than most people run in 2 weeks! LSD training (and remember LSD can be applied to cycling, rowing, stepping as well as running) is great for developing base level aerobic fitness but when it comes to fat burning/weight management, there are other methods which will be more successful and efficient. 

Fartlek – funny word but serious training method!
Fartlek means speed play in Swedish and that describes perfectly our next method of cardio training. The basic premise is to run (or cycle, row etc) at a variety of paces which are selected at random. The exerciser may walk, jog, run or sprint for a variety of distances and durations over the course of a workout until the exercise time period has elapsed or a predetermined distance has been covered. Physical landmarks such as lampposts, street signs or trees is a great way to organise a Fartlek workout e.g. after jogging for 5 minutes to warm up alternate between running hard for 3 lampposts and slow jogging for 1 or jog 1, run 1 sprint 1 and repeat. Alternatively, work periods can be controlled by counting the number of strides or time elapsed or a combination of the above. The variations are endless and can be just as easily applied to cycling as they can to running or any other cardio exercise modality. The intensity of a Fartlek workout can be easily altered to suit an individual’s fitness levels by moderating the amount of high intensity exercise compared to lower intensity work – in other words the less fit the exerciser, the slower jogging and brisk walking will be performed.

Fartlek, done for a shorter duration than LSD but at a higher overall average pace, is a good fat burner because of the periods of higher intensity training which triggers a phenomenon called EPOC (Excessive Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption) which will be discussed later.

FCR – time to hit a higher tempo!
FCR stands for Fast Continuous Running but, as with all of our cardio training methods, this approach lends itself well to just about any exercise modality. FCR is just like it sounds, working hard at a high constant pace. On our RPE scale, FCR would score around 7 or 8 or about 85-90% of MHR and is the highest sustainable level of aerobic activity – think red lining your car just below the point where the engine will blow! Some refer to this as tempo training and others anaerobic acid threshold training but regardless of what it’s called; FCR is a tough but generally shorter workout. The idea is simple – run (or cycle or row etc.) as fast as possible avoiding going so fast that you are forced to slow down because of fatigue. Lactic acid (one of the by products of anaerobic energy production) is literally bubbling under the surface and going any faster will result in having to slow down or stop. FCR is (or should be) a constant battle to maintain pace – even though the body is probably saying “slow down!”

Because of the large accumulation of lactic acid in the blood, FCR is a supreme fat burner because of EPOC. When lactic acid accumulates in the blood, the aerobic system has to work overtime to clear it out once exercise comes to an end. This “after burn” is responsible for an elevated metabolic rate (energy expenditure) at rest. The body is literally in overdrive working to clear unwanted lactic acid from the system and, as a result, burns a whole load of energy not just during the workout but also in the hours (yes HOURS) afterwards. The metabolism may be elevated for up to 48 hours after a hard lactic acid inducing workout which results in substantial energy costs and potential fat loss. Pretty good for a shorter workout! LSD (long slow distance) training causes minimal EPOC and, as a result, is not so efficient for fat loss.

FCR is an excellent training method for improving higher end aerobic fitness, teaching the body lactic acid tolerance and in training athletes involved in shorter, more intense sports like boxing, middle distance running, rowing or martial arts. It goes without saying that because of the advanced nature and demands of this type of exercise; FCR is something to work up to and should only be attempted after establishing a base level of aerobic fitness via LSD and Fartlek training.

Interval training – the clock is your coach!
Interval training can be defined as “periods of higher intensity work interspaced with periods of rest” and is a very useful and flexible training approach which, with modifications, is suitable for everyone from the beginner exerciser to an Olympic champ. By manipulating the training variables i.e. speed, distance covered, length of recovery etc it’s possible to design interval training programmes for just about anyone…

1)      E.g. Beginner client – low level of fitness
Power walk up hill 3 minutes
Slow walk on flat 2 minutes
Repeat 4 times

2)      E.g. Intermediate client – good base fitness
Row 1000 meters as fast as possible
Very slow row for 2 minutes
Repeat 6 times

3)      E.g. Advanced client – very high level of fitness
Sprint 400 meters
Jog 100 meters
Repeat 10 times

Work vs. Rest periods

Aerobic intervals
With aerobic intervals (up to 90% MHR) generally workouts are on a 1 to 1 work to rest ratio or possible 1 to .5 e.g. Run 3 minutes, resting 90 seconds to 3 minutes between efforts.

Anaerobic Intervals
Workouts that exceed 95% of MHR will often require a longer rest period between efforts so 1 to 2 or 1 to 3 work to rest intervals are the norm e.g. sprint for 30 seconds, rest for 60 – 90 seconds.

Please note these are only guidelines and work/rest intervals can be manipulated freely to suit the abilities of the individual exerciser.

Regardless of the standard of the client, the interval principle is the same – alternate periods of higher intensity exercise with periods of recovery. Interval training allows significant overload of the cardiorespiratory system which will result in good increases in the both anaerobic and aerobic fitness while also being, according to some experts, the ultimate fat burning workout because of very high degrees of EPOC. Certainly, a hard interval session can result in very high heart rates and elevated body temperature for many hours after exercise has concluded which is a good indicator that the metabolism is very “revved up” even at rest.

As high-end interval training can be so demanding, it is very important to progress into it gradually. It’s certainly not a good idea to attempt workout number 3 if you have little or no running experience. Make haste slowly and start your interval training regime with the intention of gradually increasing your workload over the coming weeks – your body will thank you for it!    

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WoW – Monday’s Workout 05/08/2013

boxingguy2-trimmedToday’s workout is inspired by boxers and boxing, it’ll challenge both muscular endurance and aerobic fitness…just like boxing, but without the risk of getting hit in the head! Mind you might want to lie down after doing it!

The workout is circuit-based and uses 6 exercises – you do each for 30sec to total a 3 minute ’round’. Rest for 1 min before repeating the workout for as many rounds as you can e.g. 3-5

Feel free to make your own exercise substitutions if you wish, but try to avoid putting similar exercises back-to-back, as this will probably just slow you down.

Warm up and cool down of course… seconds out, round 1!

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NEPA – what is it and why do you need it!


Good for them & good for you!









So, you go to the gym 3 times a week and you work really hard during those few hours. There is no denying that you’re doing yourself a lot of good but, what about the other 165 hours of the week? In this article, we’ll lift the lid on Non Exercise Physical Activity (NEPA) and look at ways you can get more active to enhance your health and reduce your waistline!

Previous generations were considerably more active than most of us are today. The increase in availability of labour saving devices, passive entertainment like TVs and computer games, a reduced requirement for manual labour and increased car ownership/usage have all contributed to a significant reduction of daily physical activity. Many of us spend large portions of our day sat at a desk, in our cars or on the sofa watching TV and even with the best will in the world, the 3 hours or so a week we spend in the gym is not a sufficient replacement for the active lifestyle of previous generations.  

Combined with an increased availability of calorie-dense food, the lowered amount of daily activity is a significant factor in the ever growing world-wide obesity problem. Our appetites remain unchanged even though our calorie requirements have been significantly reduced. Your body was designed to be active often and your stomach (approximately 1 litre in size) is capable of processing all of your nutritional needs to fuel that active lifestyle. The problem is that we aren’t as active as we used to be and no one has found a way to reprogram our appetites! Any significant reduction in calorie intake can trigger the starvation response meaning that metabolisms slow, body temperature is lowered, hunger levels are elevated and calorie burning is down-regulated. If cutting calories too greatly causes the starvation response, what is the alternative for anyone looking to maintain their weight and improve their health without starving themselves? The answer is Non Exercise Physical Activity or NEPA for short.

NEPA simply means moving more. It doesn’t matter what you do but just by moving more we will expend more energy. NEPA shouldn’t be tiring and isn’t a replacement for your regular exercise routine – it’s just additional daily activities done with the purpose of using your body a little more than usual to create a greater calorie deficit and make up for all those hours when we are sedentary.

Examples of NEPA

  • Walk instead of driving – especially if journeys are less than 1 mile
  • Cycle instead of driving – especially if journeys are less than 4 miles
  • Get off the bus or train a couple of stops earlier and walk the rest of the way to work
  • Stand instead of sitting – standing uses far more energy
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift
  • Walk during lunch breaks instead of staying at your desk
  • Wash your car by hand
  • Water your garden by hand using a watering can instead of a garden hose
  • Take the dog (or the kids) for an after dinner stroll around the neighbourhood
  • Carry your shopping in a basket instead of using a shopping trolley
  • Periodically stand up and move around whilst at work – don’t get too desk bound
  • Move at every opportunity – stretch while sat at your desk or while watching TV
  • Try doing an active leisure activity like going bowling or ice skating instead of sitting in front of the TV

I’m sure you can think of plenty of other ways that you could get more NEPA into your day. Start with a few small daily increases in activity like maybe a 10 minute walk before breakfast or after dinner and build up from there with the aim of being physically active for at least 60 minutes per day. Don’t worry – they don’t have to be consecutive minutes, just fit them in where you can. The point of NEPA is that it should become habitual – a shift in attitude where you look for ways to move more and sit less. By the end of the year you may well find yourself several pounds lighter all because you made the effort to move around a bit more every day. Go and get your NEPA on!

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sauna suit

Fitness Tip or Myth – sweating & weight loss

sauna suitBack in the late 80’s and early 90’s it wasn’t uncommon to see people out exercising wearing suits made of PVC. These suits, normally with elasticated cuffs, ankles and neck, were designed to promote weight loss by increasing the amount of sweat produced by the wearer and were made very popular by those funky kids from the New York School for the Performing Arts in Fame but then so were leg warmers! Anyway…

The ‘’Sauna Suit’’ as it was known has almost all but disappeared but recently I spotted a “sauna vest” being promoted at a big UK leisure show so it looks like the misconception that sweating excessively causes fat loss is still alive and well. The theory that sweating causes increased fat loss has been around for a VERY long time – the history of saunas having contributed much to this mistaken opinion. It is an irrefutable fact that excessive sweating does indeed cause WEIGHT loss, but sadly, this weight is NOT fat!

Many sports use sweating as a way to “make weight” and get athletes into their required weight category. For example, a fighter who weighs 82kg could sweat off 2.5kg of weight to fight in the under 80kg division. The boxer would attempt to rehydrate after the weigh-in and, as a result, fight in a weight division below their current weight. Whilst this is an effective way of reducing scale weight, there is a possibility that the fighter may fail to be fully rehydrated by the start of the bout and this may result in a poor performance due to being still dehydrated. Essentially any hoped – for advantage would be lost. Jockeys often use a similar practice to ensure they are as light as possible to minimise the weight their horse will have to carry during a race and bodybuilders also try to “dry out” to maximise their muscular appearance for competition…

We can divide our scale weight broadly into two components…Fat Mass (FM) and Fat Free Mass (FFM). FFM is made up of water, muscle, bone and connective tissues like ligaments and tendons and we should always aim to preserve our FFM as it is quite literally the “good stuff” So really, we’re not correct when we talk about losing weight – we should be saying losing fat instead.

During exercise, or any other activity that causes a rise in body temperature (?!!) sweat lost can equal or even exceed one litre (just under 2 pints) in an hour. One litre of water weighs 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) so quite possible to lose a substantial amount of weight during one hours exercise – especially in a warm climate. We sweat to reduce our body’s core temperature and prevent hyperthermia – the excessive build up of heat which may, if left unchecked, result in serious health problems. Water comes to the surface of our skin, evaporates, and takes with it some of the excess heat and as a result, we cool down.

The thing is, as soon as we drink water or our post- exercise beverage of choice, this weight will be put back on as soon as the fluid is back in our bodies…weight lost from dehydration is a very short term weight loss indeed! So clearly the degree of sweating while exercising has very little to do with long term fat loss.

In addition to having nothing to do with healthy weight loss, dehydration (the state of being deficient in water) also actually slows the burning of fat. The body perceives this reduction in water intake/increase in water expenditure as a possible drought, and drought is the natural pre-curser of famine. As a result, the age old “starvation response” kicks in and the body does all it can to preserve fat stores to keep us alive and well in periods of restricted food supplies! This is obviously not conducive to our goal of fat loss. We should do everything we can to avoid getting into a dehydrated state and this means we need to adopt a sensible approach to our water consumption…

Drink at least 2 litres of water a day.

Drink more if living in a warm climate.

Drink more still if lots of tea and coffee are consumed.

Consume an extra 250ml of water per 15 minutes of exercise performed.

Never wait to get thirsty – this means you are already 5-10% dehydrated

Watch out for high calorie sports and soft drinks which may well rehydrate you but will add extra energy to your energy intake and may interfere with fat loss. Water is best!  

It’s also worth remembering that water is ESSENTIAL to our health and well being. Just about every organ and process within our bodies relies on copious amounts of water…if water was on the healthy eating pyramid, it would make up the base because without sufficient water consumption our bodies will fail to function properly. We can survive a fairly long time without food but only a matter of days without water…

 The main factor to consider when we try to losing weight is that to burn fat, we need an energy deficit – which means less food energy in, and more activity energy out. The negative energy balance will result in fat loss, whereas losing water will merely result in weight loss.

So, in our quest to get slimmer for the coming summer -  ditch the sweat suits and extra layers of clothing, don’t worry about trying to “sweat the weight off”,  drink plenty of water, eat a little less while exercising a little more.

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Vince DelMonte & Obi Obadike – Talk Fitness Modelling

Vince DelMonte & ultra-FIT cover model and columnist Obi Obadike talk fitness modelling

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Summer Shape Up workout – YouTube


ultra-FIT’s Paul Mumford show you how to Shape up for the summer (if we get one) with this high-powered workout. At least the workout will get you hot!

GREAT £ SAVING SUMMER SUBS OFFER Subscribe for just £24 and save £22.75 on the shop price!

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Paul Mumford shows you how to run

Paul Mumford shows you how to run


ultra-FIT’s Paul Mumford shows you how to run barefoot, following up on the two articles he wrote on the subject in the spring on 2013.

Get 13 issues of ultra-FIT for the price of 11! for just £19.99 and save over £30 on the shop price

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Get Lean & Stay Lean Part 3

Glute4) Activities of daily living (ADLs). Have you heard of the 23/1 rule? The 23/1 rule states that just because you did an hours exercise doesn’t mean you can sit on your butt the other 23 and expect to see massive benefits from your workouts! What we do in the other 23 hours plays a huge part in our goal to becoming leaner. We need to consider what can be done in the other 23 hours of the day which will contribute to our success…

Sleep – are you getting 7 – 9 hours of quality sleep every night? If not you are probably running with elevated levels of cortisol in your system (a potent catabolic hormone which breaks down muscle) and it’s unlikely you’ll be training with full intensity if you are sleep deprived. Also, our bodies go into repair mode when we are sleeping, releasing a host of anabolic hormones to repair the damage of the day. Poor sleep = poor recovery. Get plenty of sleep – period.


NEPA – non exercise physical activity. One hours exercise a day, even HIIT, isn’t enough activity to get you lean if, for the other 23 hours of the day you are sedentary. Our bodies were designed to move around – a lot. So, stop using the elevator and start using the stairs, carry your groceries in a basket and don’t use the shopping trolley, if a journey is 1 mile or less, walk – don’t use your car, wash your car by hand instead of using the drive thru, take your dog for a walk instead of just letting him out in the yard to do his business, stand up frequently instead of sitting all day, get off the bus a few stops earlier than usual…Look for ways to lead a more active life and guess what? You’ll use more energy every day and get leaner, quicker! Not only will you lose body fat more readily but you’ll keep it off more easily as any dietary indiscretions will have less of an impact. It’s worth noting that a daily 20 minute walk in addition to your normal activities will result in about a 15lb fat loss per year!

Stress – consistently elevated levels of stress cause an increase in Cortisol production. Cortisol promotes catabolism (break down of muscle) which in turn can slow your metabolism and reduce fat burning potential. Do what ever you can to keep your stress levels under control – your waist will thank you for it!

In conclusion, getting lean will require a considerable effort on your part but with determination, consistent effort, planning and discipline this could be the year you get into and stay in your best shape ever!


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