Why has your training programme stopped working?
Do you use cardio for weight control? Are you one of the many people who run, cycle, swim or do classes to keep your weight under control? Did you find that at first your weight loss was quite noticeable but now it hit a plateau? If the answer is yes to the above, it’s time to think about ways of kicking your cardio up a notch or two to make it productive again!
So, what’s gone wrong? Why is the training programme that you have been following, be it group exercise classes or running, stopped working? The answer is adaptation. Quite simply, you’ve gotten good at your choice of exercise. Firstly, pat yourself on the back for sticking with a programme long enough for this to happen but then also give yourself a slap for sticking with your programme for too long!
Your body is an amazingly adaptive organism. If a stress (and exercise is a form of stress) doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger and fitter. In addition, repeated bouts of the same stress (class, running speed/distance etc) results in your body becoming more energetically economical. For weight loss, energy economy is the last thing you want.
Consider this example. As a beginner runner, your running technique may not be very good. You might also be overweight. As a result, you use a lot of energy whenever you run and subsequently lose weight for the first few weeks or even months of your new running routine. Your body, smart machine that it is, looks for ways to make you a better runner. Your muscles develop greater endurance, your heart and lungs become more efficient and your body gets very good at making fat go a long way. The result is that, compared to when you were less fit, heavier and an energy inefficient runner, your training runs now actually burn less calories!
Another example – you join one of many group exercise classes. For the first few weeks you find it really hard to follow the choreography, you are always having to catch up, your body is heavier and your fitness is lower. In essence, you are also energetically inefficient. Fast forward a few weeks or months and you have learnt the routine, your movements are smoother, you don’t have to try and catch up all the time and the result is you burn less energy during a class.
In both scenarios, the fitter you get, the less effective your workout becomes and, subsequently, your weight loss stalls.
So, what’s the answer? You have to learn to become energetically uneconomical again. You need to choose activities that you are not good at! Do classes that are unfamiliar so you have to work harder, try running on uneven terrain or more uphill than down, strap on ankle weights or a weighted vest, run on sand or soft grass instead of concretedo whatever you need to do to make your efforts less economical and more energy expensive. Ironically, one of the most uneconomical fitness activities is also one of the most accessible – walking as fast as you can. Walking is by and large a very smooth and economical exercise but when you walk as fast as possible (just shy of breaking into a run) your gait becomes very uneconomical and you waste a lot of energy and remember, if you want to lose weight, you need to waste energy. Strap on a weighted vest or backpack and you have a highly effective fat burner simply because it is an uneconomical activity.
So, bottom line time. Stop doing the same old same old. If your workout isn’t working it’s because you have reached an energy equilibrium and all you are doing is treading water. Make your workouts less efficient and you’ll soon see your weight loss start again.
Still not convinced? Ask yourself this simple question – who do you think will burn more energythe swimmer with the perfect technique who glides effortlessly through the water or the person who literally thrashes the water to foam? Inefficient exercise is your key to greater weight loss.
Exercise Efficiency – The Cause of Stalled Fat Loss?,
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