CLICK BAIT! HERE’S HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT FAST!!!! -or- Why high intensity workouts are better for losing fat.
Written by: Coach Evan
You may have heard the idea that you burn more calories after a workout than during it. In theory, this is true. However, generally people view “burning calories” as actively doing work. How can we be burning calories if we’re not working? Technically, your body is constantly burning calories, but that’s a different conversation. What’s really happening is your body is doing more work to restore itself to a pre-exercise state.
When we jump into a super-intense workout, our bodies rely mostly on energy systems that don’t require oxygen, for a bit. Although these energy systems are super fast acting, they are REALLY inefficient. They can’t bear the brunt of the work load for long and eventually the energy systems that do require oxygen start taking over the majority of the work.
Because of how inefficient the first responder energy systems are, a lot of “damage” has been done to your body, especially because they don’t call it quits after the late responders show up and just keep plugging away. The more intense the exercise, the worse the damage.
Now let’s clear the air here and define “intensity”. Strictly speaking, in this situation, intensity refers to a percentage of your maximum power output. You may feel like an exercise or workout is intense, but that is really ambiguous and it could feel intense for so many different reasons. Here in this conversation, we have to be specific. The closer you are working towards your maximum capacity, for longer, the more damage is done to your body.
But this damage isn’t bad. It’s not permanent, or even that long lasting. Your body is good at clearing the rubble. It’s called recovery. Your body’s energy stores have been so depleted that your body turns to any readily available source of energy. This is where the fat loss comes in. Your body wants to get rid of excess fat. When we are resting and recovering, fat is the easiest energy source to use. So what better source to pull from to replace those energy stores? Now, not only is your body using the fat stores to run the normal show, as long as your diet is in check, it’s using even more fat, “burning more calories”, to replenish the stores and help rebuild and recover your body from that really intense workout.
“The high intensity workout doesn’t burn as many calories as a long, slow, steady workout. Wouldn’t it be better to do that long workout, not have to kill myself, and reap the benefits of the “afterburn”?” says the skeptic.
You’re right, you could sit on the rower or bike or go on a run for an hour and burn more calories during that time than you would in the 5-10 minute high intensity workout. But the “afterburn” from that low intensity workout doesn’t exist. You would have to spend an exorbitant amount of time running or rowing or biking to make up for the afterburn you experience at a near maximal effort workout for just 5 minutes.
High intensity workouts are the best form of exercise if you’re looking to lose fat. The more intense the workout, the better the results will be because of the afterburn, concurrent with the right kind of diet. The higher the intensity and the longer the duration, the longer the afterburn, meaning the time it takes your to body to fully recover will be longer, which means your body will be burning that excess fat even longer. Now, this doesn’t mean you won’t be recovered enough for your workout the next day, but it does mean that this debt that we create does build up over time and we eventually need prolonged rest, aka rest days. If you don’t give your body time to fully recover, you’ll begin to work at a lower intensity, even if it still feels intense, which screws up the whole process. Push the intensity, push the weights, feel the burn, lose the weight.