Myth-busters: Burn more Fat not more time?

by joe ray |   Date Released : 25 Feb 2010
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joe ray

About the author: joe ray

Joel Raether is the Education Coordinator for the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He earned his BA and MAEd from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in Exercise Science Physiology. He is the former Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Denver and also the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Colorado Mammoth. Joel has done dietary and supplemental research and published numerous articles and books in the area of sports performance.

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Comments (4)

Ross, David-Dorian | 28 Feb 2010, 15:29 PM

Justin - I agree with your statement that education is the solution to the seemingly endless debate about which is more appropriate - LSD or HIIT. The actual question is not which of these techniques is an effective method of burning fat - both of them are. The better questions is: WHEN do you employ them? LSD is the better solution for beginning or de-conditioned exercisers, and HIIT is a more effect method for people who have already been doing LST for 8-12 weeks (this varies person to person).

Why? Two words: mitochondrial density. HIIT is certainly the more efficient way to release energy from adipose tissue, but without enough mitochondria in the body the free fatty acids have no place to metabolize anyway. You can't make ATP out of FFA's without mitochondria. The 6-12 weeks of LSD is not so much for the purpose of being an efficient method of burning fat (it is not, as you clearly describe) as it is the amount of time it typically takes to build mitochondria in sufficient quantity to make HIIT effective. This is also the reason for the "fat-burning zone." It is simply the zone that triggers the development of mitochondria - because during the first 6-12 weeks exercisers are typically above the anaerobic threshold if they work out more intensively than 65-75% of max HR.

Now, having said all of that, if an exerciser continues to train in LSD after an 6-12 weeks then they are doing it the hard way - just as you point out. (Very well done, by the way.) If losing fat is their goal, HIIT is now the better answer. So hup, hup! Get to those intervals!

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Kidd, Andrew | 27 Feb 2010, 13:42 PM

Great Article! One thing to keep in mind is a lot of people do not want to feel the lactic purely because it is uncomfortable even though all research supports it! They will always sway to the easy option which is run for an hour! Suppose this supports work on the mental strength and determination of the client which is another matter!

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mayo, adrianne | 26 Feb 2010, 22:13 PM

"High levels of aerobic exercise increases adrenal stress which can increase the potential for such symptoms as insomnia", etc. I am unsure, what would be consdered high levels. does this include the frequency (days) you do aerobc exercises? If you did aerobic 30 mins 2x @ week is this considered High Levels?

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Jones, Justin | 25 Feb 2010, 09:17 AM

"High levels of aerobic exercise increases adrenal stress which can increase the potential for such symptoms as insomnia, depression, reduced memory, frequent influenza and most importantly – the ability to lose weight (12)" should this read the INability to lose weight? otherwise it appears to support the use of aerobic exercise to lose weight. Apart from this it was a great article to send to clients.

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