Running to lose weight
You may be thinking about embarking on a program of running to lose weight and of course it seems to make logical sense since running results in your body burning calories.
If you take in 2000 calories per day and you use 2000 calories per day then your weight should remain the same. If you manage to burn 2100 calories per day then you will gradually lose weight. Running makes sense because running is a quick way to burn calories, but does that mean you should go out and run 5km 3 days a week or even every day? Is that the most efficient method?
The answer is no!!
There are various running training programs available but the 3km, 5km, or 10 km run or jog around the park is not the best way of running to lose weight or even the best way to get fit.
So what is?
There are two much more effective and efficient methods of running. They are High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Tabata intervals (or Tabata protocols). They are variations of each other with the Tabata interval being the more intense type of training. If you are running to lose weight you need to look at the most effective method.
HIIT is a form of training that will burn fat and improve your fitness and it will only take between 9 and 12 minutes of your time to complete a workout. So if you are going to begin running then HIIT is the method to start with.
I’ll give you an example of its effectiveness from my own experience. About twelve years ago I rejoined the army after a 5 year break from Special Forces and joined a medical unit. They did a Basic Fitness Assessment (BFA) every 6 months and part of the assessment was a 3.2km (2 mile) run.
I had lost a lot of fitness in the time since I left Special Forces so I started training again in the conventional method I had always used which was a 5km run three times a week. I was slim and more concerned with fitness so it wasn't a weight loss concern. When the BFA came around I ran the distance in about 12 minutes from memory. For my age at the time (41) it was an acceptable pass as the time limit was 14 minutes. However I found it a bit hard going.
I had heard about HIIT and decided to try it for the next Army BFA. I began a program of running three times a week for 9 minutes each time. This worked out to 27 minutes training per week in total compared to my previous training of 60 minutes per week for my 5km runs of 20 minutes three times per week.
I would jog for 3 minutes to warm up and then sprint for a distance of two power poles, then walk for two power poles, then sprint for two for a total sprint/walk time of 3 minutes, then jog as a warm down for a final 3 minutes (9 minutes for the total exercise).
When I did my next BFA I dropped my time to 10 minutes and did it easy. It may not seem like much but a two minute improvement is quite an improvement in time. These figures are not overly impressive but they do indicate the effectiveness of the HIIT method in relation to the conventional practice.
From a fitness perspective it is an effective method of getting fit in a short space of time but what about running to lose weight?
For many years the idea has been pushed that you need long aerobic workouts to reduce body fat because of the fact that your body will utilise fatty acids as a fuel source after about 30 minutes of training. However, how many people do you know who have been doing aerobics classes for years but still appear overweight. I have met plenty.
NOTE: There is actually nothing wrong with being overweight from a health perspective as long as you are not obese. It is simply an aesthetic issue, not a health issue. If you want to understand this better have a look at my
Running to lose weight using a conventional method of training will also work. I returned from the Middle east in 1994 with a fat belly which was not a good look on a slim guy (or on anyone). It took me six weeks to get rid of it using weight training 3 times a week and 2-3 5km runs each week as well. Though conventional running to lose weight works, it is not as effective as HIIT or a Tabata protocol.
The Tabata protocol is similar to HIIT but the intensity segment is only 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest and this is repeated 8 times. It is much more intense than HIIT and you will need to build up to it.
Not only will these techniques decrease fat without compromising your muscle size they will also increase your aerobic capacity and your anaerobic capacity. Basically you will start to change your body shape and that is why HIIT/Tabata is a component of the electric physique programme.
Aerobic exercise is only one aspect of the electric physique programme. The other two are diet and weight training, but lets start with an aerobic programme.
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