Monday, March 30, 2009

Struggles of Women and Body Fat...

Many women looking to transform their bodies are frequently frustrated over the body fat that covers their muscles. From their vantage point it seems that no matter how hard they work, the process is slow and to no avail. In my experience the women work a lot harder at their results, than men work for theirs. Evidence of this truth can be seen that how men can consume more calories than women without gaining any weight and also lose weight much faster. So what is the problem... What gives...? Well the simply reason points to the biological differences that exist between men and women. The more complex reasons are specific to you and I will deal with that later. Some of them can be found here.

Body Composition

One of the differences that impact your ability to burn the fat is your body composition. This is simply the amount of lean body mass (muscle and bone) in comparison to fat mass (fat) that makes up your body. Men, in general, have more muscle mass, heavier bones and less body fat than women. Its these differences in muscle mass that allow men to burn more calories than women at rest. Women on the other hand have the ability to store fat more efficiently than men, despite eating fewer calories proportionately. This the reason to incorporate weight training into your program, which will help increase your lean body mass. Not the "5's" and "10's" dumbbells either - you will need to progressively challenge your body with the "15's", "20's" and "30's" in order to force the body to lay down more muscle tissue. You have to challenge yourself.

Physical Activity

In general women are less active than men. In a study where metabolism was measured men and women showed that the reason women's for low energy expenditure was due to fewer calories burned from physical activity. This involves anything from differences in jobs for men and women, and differences in household activities - generally speaking of course. Increase your physical activity by taking the stairs where possible, staying on your feet more during the day, and/or parking further away at the mall or grocery store. There are numerous ways to incorporate more movement daily.


To the contrary though there is actually little difference between men and women in overall metabolism. On average, women's total energy expenditure, which is the number of calories burned to fuel breathing, circulation, digestion, physical activity, and many other body processes, is approximately five to ten percent lower than men's. The lower overall energy expenditure can be explained by body composition.

Now with more calories expended at rest and more calories burned during activities—makes it easier for men to eat more without gaining weight and also to lose weight faster than women of a similar size. However at the end of the day, the differences in gender cannot trump hard work in the gym with the exercise and hard work out of the gym with the nutrition. Now these differences are not allow to be used as excuses - I will have none of that. Just focus on doing what you have to do now, so that you can do what you want to do later. Gain control of habits that do not move you forward towards goals. Hence the phrase... "drop it like a bad habit". Just understand that your journey and struggles are yours to own and experience. What you need to change in order to reach your goals are specific to you. This is what makes you unique. Some will have to work hard and some will have to work harder.

Be Well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Work Harder; Not Longer...

Why do 1-2 hours of work, when you can do it in 15-30 mins. If I told you that I could give you something that could help you get more done in less time - would you want it? Yes, yes! give it to me. Well that something is called "interval training". The question now is do you still want it? I may have lost some people. Now I always say speed kills, but in this case, it kills fat.

What I am trying to get you to understand is that running on the treadmill for 1 - 2 hours at a pace that is considered the opposite of working hard, isn't the most of effective use of your time. Most people claim that they do not have ample time to dedicate to daily exercise, so why do I see that same person spending over 1 hour on the elliptical machine at the slow "I am watching TV" pace.

Some signs to look for as clues you need to work harder:

  1. If you can actually watch TV on those nice TV screens the gym owners conveniently placed in front of the treadmills.
  2. If you can send a text messages to all your friends while on the cardio equipment.
  3. If can you actually hold a meaningful conversation while on the cardio equipment.
  4. If your smiling while your on the cardio equipment
  5. If you maintain camera ready status for your photo shoot while doing your cardio

If you fall into one of those categories about then you need to increase the intensity of your workout. What this will do for you is result in more calories burned in a shorter period of time. "How can this be, that doesn't make sense?" you say.

In this study published by Canadian researcher and sports scientist Martin Giabala compared sprint intervals versus traditional endurance training over a two week period. Within the study the sprint interval group performed 4-6 rounds of 30 second all out sprints with 4 min allow for recovery time between rounds. The endurance training group perform 90-120 minutes of continuous exercise at 65% of VO2max (low intensity). Wow that is about 20 minutes of high intensity intervals compared to a possible 120 minutes of slow endurance work. The results of the study show equivalent improvements. Now this study only looked at performance changes in your aerobic capacity, and not calories burned, fat loss, and or body composition changes. I will share more research studies for those areas in the future, but for now you can see that higher intensity work can lead to the same improvements/results in a faster time.

So if you really want to get fit, you need to work harder, not longer. Most people are looking to spend the least amount of time in the gym as possible. So increasing the intensity of your workout will allow for you more bang for the buck in terms of time spent, and the higher-intensity exercise will surely more than double your calories burned.

Now only issue to consider is that higher intensity exercise isn't recommended for beginners. So start out at lower intensities, but just don't stay there. Once your in better condition higher intensity will allow you get back to your life.

Be Well.

Journal of Physiology,"Short-Term Sprint Interval versus Traditional Endurance Training: Similar Initial Adaptations in Human Skeletal Muscle and Exercise Performance," Sept 2006, Vol 575 Issue 3

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