Sunday, August 4, 2013

Could Your Super-Sized Workout Be Making You Heavier?

Here is a recent headline from the Los Angeles Times:



We're exercising more but still fighting obesity, study shows

Residents of two-thirds of the nation's counties have become more physically active, but obesity rates have climbed, researchers concluded.


The explanation for this apparent paradox is that, even with more exercise, we're still eating more than we burn, so weight loss isn't happening.

Ahh yes, my favorite, the calories in, calories out argument.  Let's just suppose that calorie balance is the key to weight loss, and take a closer look at what might be going on here.

Lucky for me, an article in the May 2013 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal reported on a study that was conducted by researchers at The University of Alabama at Birmingham.  They recruited 72 women ages 60-74 and put them in three groups.  On group did one session of cardiovascular training (40 minute duration) and one resistance training session per week, one group did 2 cardio and 2 resistance sessions, and one group did 3 and 3.

The results that the women in the study received were in line with what I've observed in my own transformation, and in the results that we get at Gordon Studio.

The group that did one cardio and one resistance  session per week increased their non-exercise activity thermogenesis  by 68 calories per day overall.  The 2 and 2 group did even better: their total energy expenditure, activity related energy expenditure, (this was not increased in the 1:1 or the 3:3 group), and their non-exercise energy expenditure increased by 200 calories/day.

Here comes the most important result of the study in my opinion:

The group of women that did three 40 minute cardio sessions plus three resistance training sessions decreased their non-activity energy expenditure by 150 kcal per day.

They trained more, but they burned fewer calories overall.

These results are in line with what happened to me after I earned my ACE certification, got my Zumba license, and started training clients and teaching classes:

The increase I experienced in physical stress and hunger helped me re-gain 15 pounds in the two years after I started my fitness business.

In real numbers my weight went from 118 to 133.  I managed to make some changes and stop my re-gain just short of becoming officially overweight again.

In my experience, and from my observations, I'm beginning to conclude that those of us who have been significantly overweight or obese may have to keep a sharp eye on how we respond to training and exercise.  By refocusing my efforts on metabolic resistance training, reducing my cardio load, and keeping an eye on whether my appetite is well managed, I've been able to take the weight back off.  

I've also seen that my students who bring the intensity to our 30 minute Turbulence Training classes, follow their food plans, and don't add a lot of extra training and cardio sessions, get the best and most visible results.

This can represent a dilemma for me as a business owner and trainer:  more sessions used by more students equals more revenue.  Today, with the success of programs like Insanity and P90X, it seems like the harder and longer you work your students, the more popular and on trend you will be. 

Back in January I made a resolution that I would have to let go of what is popular, and go back to what works.  

If you love to train and do lots of cardio- and your weight and body fat percentages are right where you want them to be- please keep doing what you love and what works!  

If you are going to the gym or training at home, finding yourself hungry all the time, and you're not getting the results and the body you want, why not dial up the intensity of your training, dial down the frequency and duration, and see if your results improve?