Since this blog is about getting in to shape regardless of your age or level of fitness, I want to talk about the simplest way to exercise, which is walking. Walking is as easy as it gets, in fact we all have been doing it since we were toddlers. The questions is though, “Is walking effective for losing weight?” There are many layers to the answer and it mostly depends on what level of fitness that you are at and how you use walking in your routine.
Walking can be very effective if used right and a complete waste of time and energy if done how most people do it. If you put walking up against doing nothing, or worse sitting on your couch eating potato chips, of course walking is the more effective way to lose weight. But when you put it up against many other forms of exercise, walking can fall short and yield little results. How many overweight mail carriers have you seen? Surprisingly, I’ve seen alot. If just walking was the answer to weight loss, this wouldn’t be the case. (I not trying to be rude, I’m just saying.)
[Not everyone was built to have six pack abs! With a little work though, we can all look our best. What a handsome fella, huh? I am the proud owner of an English Bulldog named Clark Griswold. He is just a mess and we love him! They are the best dogs and great around kids, too!]
Once someone decides that they are going to start to exercise, the first step usually will involve some sort of diet and starting to walk or jog around the neighborhood. This is a start and will be effective for a while, but it is not going to get the results that most people need to stick to their exercise goals. I am going to go over some different ways that you can approach your exercise routine that will be more effective but allow you to break in to it slowly.
The main reason that walking is not effective for very long is because your body will adapt quickly to it. Walking for a mile or two around the block is not going to be intense enough to keep your body in a caloric deficit so you can drop the weight. One thing that is important to know is that there are many different variables to losing weight and it is not as black and white as I am making it here. Just bear with me because the basic philosophy of this will make sense and help you to learn how your body reacts to different types of exercises. Walking is great for fitness in general and regardless of how you train to lose weight, I am not telling you to avoid it. In fact depending on your age, fitness level, past injuries, etc., walking may be the best thing for you to do right now.
The rest of this post is written for someone that is able to train a little more intensely than just walking. I am not going to go over resistance training, which I feel is key to losing weight, just cardio for now.
Let’s go over a few different ways to train cardio and the difference between them. When I say cardio, it could mean walking, jogging, riding a bike, elliptical machine, treadmill, etc. The type of machine is irrelevant, it’s the way that you train on them that makes the difference.
The two main types of cardio:
1) Steady State
2) High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
This type of cardio involves walking or running at the same pace for the majority of the workout. (Ex. walking on a treadmill at 4.0 mph for 45 minutes.) The biggest concern with this type of training is the time issue of having to do it for so long. The good thing about it is that it doesn’t take any skill and a beginner can do it right from day one.
This type involves short intense bursts of exercise alternated with a slower active rest period. (Ex. running on a treadmill for 30 seconds or a minute at 9.0 mph alternated with walking on the treadmill at 4.0 mph for one minute. You would continue to alternate between the two for around 15 minutes. This is way more intense than steady state and will burn more calories in a shorter time frame. The concern with this type of cardio is the risk of overtraining.
Another way to do cardio is to combine the two and do them both in the same workout. This is called synergistic cardio and this is something that I learned from Rusty Moore, the creator of Visual Impact. This type is probably the best way to do cardio if you are looking to lose weight, although it can also be very time consuming. With this, you will start out doing HIIT for around 15 minutes, followed by doing steady state cardio for around 30 minutes.
This will work wonders for you and especially if you train in a “fasted state”. With this, you will not eat for three hours before you train and then around an hour after training. If this seems impossible to do, believe me it isn’t. In fact one of the best kept secrets to losing body fat is “intermittent fasting“. I regularly fast for 24 hours which allows me to lose weight quickly and not have to be so strict with my diet.
If you are new to exercising, I suggest that you start out doing steady state for awhile until you feel comfortable with exercise and how your body feels afterward. Once you feel good and are ready to do more, you should move on to HIIT, and then finally Synergistic cardio.
This just scratches the surface on the different ways to train cardio for weight loss, but hopefully it gives you some insight into it. If you are serious about getting in shape and maybe even having great abs, you should consider trying each of the three types of cardio. Everybody is different and you should try to learn how your body responds to certain types of exercise. Let me know where you are at in your training and what challenges that you are facing and I can help you to get on track.
[This guy has a unique style of Power Walking! It's kind of funny, hopefully you don't try this in your neighborhood!]
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