Is Aerobic Training the Only Way to Burn Fat?

“I have read in popular magazines that aerobic training is the only way to burn fat. Is this true? If not are there other ways to burn fat, if so what are some?”

Perhaps I do not read these popular fitness magazines that solely claim aerobic training is the only way to burn fat because when I tried to find examples of a magazine claiming this, I fell short which was a pleasant surprise. However, I have seen this misconception first hand while working with friends and family. We live in a faced paced culture where every problem ideally has a single and simple solution. For example, if you are hungry you can grab a quick meal at one of the dozens of restaurants that are in your town, or if you need to talk to someone you send them a text 10 seconds later. Instant gratification and simple single solutions rule our everyday lives, so it makes sense that some people believe there is a single method to reducing body fat. So why cling on to aerobics as the way to do it? My theory is we are more likely to attempt to add a new habit to our lives than change an old one. Old habits include the food we eat and the drinks we drink, so we are likely to turn toward exercise, a habitual addition, to burn fat. From there I believe we turn toward exercises that we can easily measure or perceive the outcome of. For aerobics it is easy to measure the amount of calories burned, thus we get some instant gratification after seeing our calorie count after a workout. We of course know that what we gravitate toward isn’t always true.

Fortunately ‘Top 10’ lists have become very common in the fitness world and seem to be the common format for fat loss articles. These lists eliminate the concept of there being a single way to lose fat. Nevertheless, the common theme in many of these lists are the websites and magazines choose content over proven research, and some suggestions are loosely scientifically backed or simply opinions. Sometimes recipes make it into the list stating that a certain food or meal will burn fat. It’s good that the fitness community is no longer pinpointing one way to lose fat, but there is still a long way to go before insignificant or false methods are fully eliminated from these lists.

Although green tea and apple cider vinegar were discussed more often than eating a balanced diet, thankfully most lists include at least [sometimes loosely] one tip about each of the following: aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise, and nutrition. Anaerobic exercise is a great way to accelerate fat loss but it is often misunderstood. A relatively common belief is by doing an anaerobic exercise for a particular muscle group you can spot reduce fat in that area. The fitness magazines are doing a better job not spreading this myth, yet it still shows up in some blog articles. Since fat loss is a metabolic process, we can use aerobic exercise to increase our metabolism by increasing muscle mass. The more lean mass we have, the higher our resting metabolic rate is, meaning we require additional calories to sustain ourselves. This extra calorie requirement paired with a static diet can decrease body fat. Nutrition is another common way to reduce body fat, and is often underestimated. When people aim for calories burned with conducting an aerobic workout, they often fail to recognize that perhaps the largest gains can be made by changing their eating habits rather than changing their exercise habits.

I have not recently seen any magazines claiming aerobics are the only way to burn fat, but that doesn’t mean the misconception isn’t out there. Like the new ‘top 10’ lists are showing us, there are many ways someone can lose fat with anaerobic exercise and good nutrition being two of the top ways besides aerobic exercise.


Nickels and Dimes Workout

Nickels and Dimes is a fun workout you can do almost anywhere. At the top of every minute for 10 minutes you will complete 5 pull-ups (nickels) and 10 push-ups (dimes). By the end of the workout, you will have completed 50 pull-ups and 100 push-ups.

Your first set you may be able to complete the nickels and dimes within the first 20 seconds. As your workout continues, it will take longer to complete each set, thus giving you less and less of a rest period. By the 10th minute, you may not get to rest at all, and you will need to power through to complete the workout! It may sound easy, but it just 10 minutes you can get one heck of a workout.

You can modify this workout as needed. For example, you can do the workout for 15 minutes instead of 10, shorten or lengthen the rest period, or you can do pennies and nickels and complete 1 pull-up and 5 push-ups.

You can also change the exercises from pull-ups and push-ups to exercises that strengthen other muscle groups. You can do 5 tuck-jumps and 10 lunges, 5 leg raises and 10 sit-ups, or even sprint for 5 seconds and jog for 10 seconds. Each one of these will be repeated at the top of the minute.

I enjoy this exercise because at the surface it is very simple, every minute you do 5 pull-ups and 10 push-ups. But to meet your fitness goals, you can modify it to be a simple timed circuit that can be completed almost anywhere.

Woman Bench Pressing

The 7 Laws of Training – Getting the Most Out of Your Workouts

With hundreds of workout routines available for us to choose from, it is important to choose a program that follows the seven laws of training and is suitable for our desired training outcomes. The seven laws of training were developed by Dr. Fred Hatfield. These laws outline the principles upon which optimal fitness is achieved. The seven laws are:

  1. The Principle of Individual Differences – We all have different genetics, thus we will all have different outcomes to exercise and training.
  2. The Overcompensation Principle – Our bodies respond to stress with overcompensated growth. For example, if we stress our muscles, our muscle fibers will grow in size.
  3. The Overload Principle – In order to increase physical performance, we must experience resistance great than what our bodies normally encounter.
  4. The SAID Principle – An acronym for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. Your body will specifically adapt to imposed stresses, so your training plan should specifically match your training objectives.
  5. The Use/Disuse Principle – “Use it or lose it.” If you stop stressing specific systems, your body will adapt to only be able to meet that lower stress level.
  6. The Specificity Principle – When you are training, start with general fitness training and as your competition or event gets closer, transition to highly specific training.
  7. The GAS Principle – An acronym for General Adaptation Syndrome. Our bodies go through 3 stages when a stress is introduced. First, the body is alarmed, then our bodies resist, and finally our bodies exhaust. Because our bodies experience trauma from the stress and exhaust energy reserves, the body must have a rest period after being trained.

Some workout programs may not follow every law. Let’s look at a popular training program and see how it compares. CrossFit is a high-intensity system that focuses on universal fitness and non-specific training. Famous for its workouts of the day, CrossFit daily workouts will typically result in a good full-body burn. Let’s use the  7 laws framework to analyze this non-rigid system.

The principle of Individual Differences – CrossFit does not tailor workouts to the individual.Overcompensation Principle – Most CrossFit workouts are group oriented and specify a weight to

The Overcompensation Principle – Most CrossFit workouts are group oriented and specify a weight to use, so already strong individuals may have an easier time completing a workout. As long as weights are adapted based on strength level, CrossFit can meet the criteria of this principle.

The Overload Principle – With its high-intensity workouts and emphasis on pushing yourself, the culture of CrossFit motivates people to overload themselves.

The SAID Principle – CrossFit is designed not to follow the SAID principle. The training objective of CrossFit is to not specify the training.

The Use/Disuse Principle – Workouts of the day are typically conducted 5 times per week and are designed to use every muscle at least every other day, this it follows this principle.

Specificity Principle – CrossFit does not specify training.

GAS Principle – Rest days are typically given 2 times per week. Depending on the CrossFit gym, muscle groups are broken up so that there is ample time for full recovery.

CrossFit meets 4 of the 7 training laws. Whatever your workout plan is, use the 7 laws to evaluate the training effectiveness of your program. If your workout program doesn’t meet all 7 laws, then adapt your plan until it does. For example, if you enjoy CrossFit but are also training for a 5k, then mix endurance training, sprints, and CrossFit into a 5 day a week program, rotating between the workouts and focusing more on running as the race gets closer.

101 Top Health and Fitness Quotes

“Age is no barrier, it’s a limitation you put on your mind” – Jackie Joyner-Kersee

“Always keep moving, even if you’re just walking.” – Unknown

“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you” – Arnold Palmer

“Attitude is everything, so pick a good one.” – Wayne Dyer

“Don’t complain, 80% of people don’t care and 20% of people are happy you have them” – Lou Holtz

“Don’t stop when it hurts, stop when you’re done!” – Anonymous

“Excellence is the gradual result of always trying to do better” – Pat Riley

“Expectations Determine Whether or Not You are a Success of a Failure” – Unknown

“Failure defeats losers, but it inspires winners” – Robert Kiyosaki

“Find passion, embrace fear, and create success on your own terms” – Dulce Candy Ruiz

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” – Satchel Paige

“If Not You, Then Who” – Unknown

“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail” – Mark Splitz

“If you get 1% better at something every day then it is a successful day” – Unknown

“If you want to succeed, you have to commit to it wholeheartedly” – Unknown

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it” -Art Williams

“In any given moment we have 2 options. To step forward into growth, or to step back into safety” – Abraham Maslow

“It’s not whether or not you get knocked down, it’s whether or not you get back up” – Vince Lombardi

“It’s simple, if it jiggles, it’s fat” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Limiting the time you’re inactive is even more important than exercise.” – Tom Rath

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second” – William James

“Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.” – Unknown

“People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty” – Timothy Ferriss

“Persistence can change failure into an extraordinary achievement” – Marv Levy

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” – John F. Kennedy

“Sometimes you have to dive in head first” – Admiral McRaven

“The best way to predict the future is to create it” – President Abraham Lincoln

“The body is a mirror of how we live our lives.” – Lissa Rankin, MD

“The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.” – Morihei Ueshiba

“The reason I exercise is for the quality of life I enjoy.” – Kenneth H. Cooper

“The resistance that you fight physically in the gym and the resistance that you fight in life can only build a strong character” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Thinking and doing are two very different things” – Anonymous

“Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Transformation is not five minutes from now; it’s a present activity. In this moment you can make a different choice, and it’s these small choices and successes that build up over time to help cultivate a healthy self-image and self-esteem.” – Jillian Michaels

“Unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going!” – Jillian Michaels

“What makes you something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose” – Andre Agassi

“You are one decision away from a totally different life” – Unknown

“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get.” – Michael Phelps

“You’re never too busy, it’s just a matter of priorities” – Unknown

“1 billion people in the world are chronically hungry. 1 billion people are overweight.” – Mark Bittman

“A fit, healthy body—that is the best fashion statement” – Jess C. Scott

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Larry Elder

“A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there.” – H. Stanley Judd

“A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” – Unknown

“A man’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time, pills or stairs.” – Joan Welsh

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Appetite has really become an artificial and abnormal thing, having taken the place of true hunger, which alone is natural. The one is a sign of bondage but the other, of freedom.” – Paul Brunton

“Be careful about reading health books. Some fine day you’ll die of a misprint.” – Markus Herz

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale

“Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential.” – Liane Cardes

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden

“Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork.” – English Proverb

“Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” – Michael Pollan

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Bill Gates, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” – Mark Victor Hansen

“Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.” – Norman Cousins

“Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Eat clean, stay fit, and have a burger to stay sane.” – Gigi Hadid

“Every living cell in your body is made from the food you eat. If you consistently eat junk food then you’ll have a junk body.” – Jeanette Jenkins

“For he who has health has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.” – Owen Arthur

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – World Health Organization

“Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it” – Josh Billings

“Health requires healthy food.” – Roger Williams

“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” – Winston S. Churchill

“I always felt that my greatest asset was not my physical ability, it was my mental ability.” – Bruce Jenner

“I hated every minute of the training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Muhammad Ali

“I really regret eating healthy today.” – Nobody Ever

“I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren’t in the book. I tried eating the book. It tasted better than most of the diets.” – Dolly Parton

“I’ve been on a diet for two weeks and all I’ve lost is fourteen days.” – Totie Fields

“If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all.” – Joey Adams

“If we are creating ourselves all the time, then it is never too late to begin creating the bodies we want instead of the ones we mistakenly assume we are stuck with.” – Deepak Chopra

“If you don’t do what’s best for your body, you’re the one who comes up on the short end.” – Julius Erving

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” – Maya Angelou

“If you have formed the habit of checking on every new diet that comes along, you will find that, mercifully, they all blur together, leaving you with only one definite piece of information: french-fried potatoes are out.” – Jean Kerr

“If you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food.” – Errick McAdams

“If you want to accomplish anything in life, you can’t just sit back and hope it will happen. You’ve got to make it happen.” – Chuck Norris

“If your dog is fat, you’re not getting enough exercise.” – Unknown

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” – Chinese Proverb

“It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.” – Margaret Mead

“It’s never too late to start eating well. A good diet can reverse many of those conditions as well. In short: change the way you eat and you can transform your health for the better.” – T. Colin Campbell

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

“Most people fail, not because of lack of desire, but, because of lack of commitment.” – Vince Lombardi

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.” – Ellen DeGeneres

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” – George Herman “Babe” Ruth

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Haruki Murakami

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

“Some things you have to do every day. Eating seven apples on Saturday night instead of one a day just isn’t going to get the job done.” – Jim Rohn

“Success is a staircase, not a doorway.” – Dottie Walters

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

“The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.” – Brian Wansink

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.”- Tommy Lasorda

“The future is always beginning now.” – Mark Strand

“The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” – William James

“The next best thing to winning is losing! At least you’ve been in the race.” – Nellie Hershey Tullis

“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley

“We do not stop exercising because we grow old – we grow old because we stop exercising.” – Dr. Kenneth Cooper

“Whenever I see an ambulance, I like to think there is a baby being born, rather than a death” – Phil Lester

“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them” – Michael Jordan

“You must have long-range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures” – Charles C. Noble

Quote of the Week – 26 June

“The Body is a mirror of how we live our lives” – Lissa Rankin, MD

When you look in the mirror what do you see? Your reflection not only shows you your physical appearance, but is a reflection of your work, hobbies, family, discipline, mind, and faith. Your health and fitness are a direct representation of you. If you choose to binge your favorite shows on Netflix every day after coming home from a desk job, your body will reflect that. If you choose to workout every day before work, your body will reflect that as well. Your body is not a separate entity from the rest of your life. It is important to connect the body and mind so that when you look in the mirror it shows the outcome of your thoughts and goals.

The Mountains are Calling Part 1: Increasing your Hiking Fitness during the Off-Season

The mountains are calling, the sands are beckoning, but you’re worried the unbeaten path is going to beat you. That’s fine because you have time to train and build up to your hikes. Whether you are preparing for a 2000 mile thru-hike or a 5-mile day hike, there are tips and tricks you can use to increase your hiking fitness before you hit the trail.

Depending on your local climate and your preferred type of hiking, you likely have a part of the year where hiking ends for a few months. You can use this time to work on general health and fitness, which will ultimately prepare you for your next hike!

First, I want to discuss the training schedule of athletes. Regardless of what sport an athlete is training for, there is often a difference in training between off-season and the in-season. During the off-season, athletes often focus more generally on their fitness, while as the season gets closer they tend to focus more on sport specific fitness. For example, a cyclist during the off-season may be in the gym weight lifting more often to build leg and core strength before they go back to cycling every day to prepare for the season. We can do the same thing for hiking. During winter when you are likely not out hiking, you can prepare for the season by practicing general fitness. Here are some ways you can prepare for the hiking season by improving your overall fitness:

Resistance Training: The off-season is a great time to strengthen your legs, hips, core, back, and shoulders. Weight lifting to strengthen your upper body can help you carry the loads of a heavy pack. If you’ve ever finished a hike and your shoulders and back were very sore, you can help prevent that by strengthening these muscles before you hit the trail. Also, strengthening your legs and hips will greatly improve how you feel during a hike. Hills will become no problem with a strong set of calves and quads.

Calisthenics: While resistance training will build strength, calisthenics will build muscular endurance. Better muscular endurance will keep your muscles running efficiently throughout even the longest hikes. By doing squats, lunges, leg lifts, crunches, push-ups, calf-raises, and other calisthenics of your choice, you will prepare your muscles for extended periods of stress which is what you experience while hiking.

Walking/Jogging: By walking and jogging during the off season you will help keep your body adapted for walking long distances, and you will improve your cardiovascular endurance.

Trail mix is a great energy providing food for when you’re on the trail, but during the off-season, you may need to scale back on the amount of high calorie and processed foods that you eat.

Nutrition: What you eat during the off-season shouldn’t be what you eat while on the trail. Trail food is often high in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium which helps you maintain energy on the trail. During the off-season try to eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. There is nothing better for off-season hikers than eating unprocessed fresh foods. They usually have low sodium, no trans-fats, and ample dietary fiber as opposed to their processed counterparts. As a hiker, if it comes packaged try not to eat it during the off-season. Your health will thank you since once hiking season comes around, packaged processed foods are almost all you will be eating while on the trail. A 10-mile hike will burn over 1000 calories, so if you eat as much as you eat on the trail while off the trail, you will begin to gain weight.

Weight Control: This brings us to weight control. During the off-season stay fit and skinny. As a hiker, you’re always looking for ways to reduce the amount of weight in your pack. Turns out one of the best ways to reduce your carried weight is to burn away your own fat. For some general tips for weight loss and weight control check out this article on weight loss basics.

The off-season is your time to work on your overall fitness and health. Once the hiking season begins to draw closer, you will want to start getting more specific with your training to prepare for your hikes. Stay tuned because next week we will discuss pre-season hiking fitness!

Author: Scott Van Hoy