Monday, 1 June 2009

Losing weight: Don't limit yourself by having a limited goal

I've been talking to a friend about how to lose weight, get fit etc. Each time I do this find myself explaining some concepts that I really think belong here because I feel the industry and media tell us all one thing but the evidence and in particular my personal experience tells me other things. 

On the question of whether explosive and strength work should be excluded in favour of conditioning work. I feel you can research all you like at the mo but the knowledge just isn't out there. My view is that if you increased explosive work you'd be improving your sprint ability. Doing this helps you get a faster rate of movement and thus burn more calories per step. It also puts a massive load on your system and thus a massive training stimulus. Strength work can work in a simlar way because you can carry greater loads. Anything you do when carrying a greater load increases the calories needed to get the job done. It's not all an exact science because it depends how you carry it and a multitude of factors but I'm really saying lots of different kinds of activity, training and exercise can all benefit you in the search for weight loss will also making you more capable in your day to day life. 

These things may not be considered conditioning work but I often think conditioning work is too limited. Work within your limits but make sure you keep checking what your real limits are. I remember showing people at the gym that what they thought they could squat was about half to two thirds what they could actually squat. So that's why they weren't improving much. Cos they weren't really pushing themselves. 

So use your training this time to learn about yourself and how your body works. Try different things out and keep spicing things up. I've spent years trying different things and I still find new takes on things. All this experience stays with you and helps you long term. So just don't think for the short term too much otherwise it will all end up being wasted. 

Another way to put it is that you need to regularly re establish new limits. Conditioning standards for this month  should be out of date next month. Each week you should be trying to figure out how many calories in total you're burning. Just a rough guess. It's worth knowing that for about every 1 mile you cover you burn around 100 cals. That's why you need to focus on running further for every 10 minutes running, jogging or walking you do. So increasing your top speed can help with this.

You'll quickly notice that the numbers don't seem to add up to a lot of fat burning but I don't think these are completely accurate. What I mean is that I feel there are other energy costs that we can't yet measure from running. It's a common misconception that we lose most weight from dieting. To sidetrack I think nobody considers the nutrients etc you lose through restricting what you eat and no one has fully checked the energy that's given off as heat through running and also through rebuilding your body. It's always bugged me that the only energy check done to confirm this idea is to measure the oxygen we breath in and out and assume from that what energy is used during exercise. 

I won't go into how many levels of wrong there are in that assumption but it was what was peddled in my degree. As I see it our bodies just plain adapt and can use the energy from all sorts of sources really efficiently. We mop up and reuse some of the carbon dioxide so it doesn't show in our breath. 

Also no one has ever told me how much it costs the body to rebuild and fix cells. I expect it's a lot though considering babies and kids need so much compared to their body weight. 

Anyway I hope you get the picture. I'm just waiting til some one actually adds this up properly

Hope this makes sense. I'm just saying keep pushing your limits in all sorts of ways. Learn how to measure these limits and your training in ways that can be done anywhere. That's why I talk about calories per mile or km. You can do this anywhere and compare the quality of your training. You can then start plotting how many miles per hour you're covering and see the improvement from week to week. 
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