There really is no way to talk about fitness without the topic of fat burning coming up. After all most of us come to the realization that we need to start working out because we start seeing those few extra pounds we have gained start showing up when we look in the mirror – in places we don’t want to see them. We know this is fat and we realize we need to do something about it.
So how do we burn off those extra pounds of fat? Over the decades we have seen numerous “fat burning” crash diets, countless supplements that claim to “melt” the fat away, we have seen the craze of “low fat” everything from mayonnaise to ice-cream, and of course the articles each month in every fitness magazine claiming to have the top-secret workout strategy that will have you ripped and ready for the beach in just 30 days. Here is the simple answer to the question – hard work in the gym and hard work in the kitchen. We will talk about the kitchen and nutrition later; today we will talk about the gym portion.
A simple answer won’t suffice here. Hard work can come in many forms and just because you are working hard doesn’t always mean the work is productive. So we have to look into it a little more.
Let me ask you a question, how many ripped, toned, shredded, six-pack toting or whatever buzz-word you want to use, marathon runners have you seen? There isn’t many out there. Do marathon runners work hard? Of course, their training is no joke; they put in countless hours doing what I would consider hard work. But the truth is they aren’t lean the way most of you would consider optimal. They are thin for sure, but how much of their body is made up of muscle? How much lean body mass do they have in relation to bodyweight or body fat? Not a lot. Yet when we see that picture on the internet of the perfect body, the body we want, it is usually of someone with good muscle “tone”, with six-pack abs, arms that show definition. Most elite marathon runners are what we call “skinny-fat”. They are thin, but much of what you see is fat, not muscle; they just don’t have a lot of it. You don’t typically see the six-pack or the muscles in their arms or legs.
Yet when the topic of losing weight or burning fat comes up, the most common thing we see is people grabbing their running shoes and pounding the pavement day in and day out. They may lose some weight initially, they may even lose a lot, but most of the time they get to a point and can’t seem to lose those few extra inches around the waist, they can’t see those abs they were sure were hiding under the fat, they don’t see that picture perfect body they were hoping for when they look in the mirror. Now let me just add that I understand that many people really enjoy running. I did at one time in my life. If that is you, then I say keep it up and enjoy it, but if you are looking to burn fat and are after that broad, general and inclusive fitness that we are after here, then there has to be some hard work put in, in other areas.
So if running countless miles every day doesn’t give us that “toned”, fitness model look we are after, what will? I would like to just end the article here by saying CrossFit, but again it isn’t that simple. The first thing to understand is that no matter what fitness training you take on, it takes time, sometimes a lot of time putting in hard work in and out of the gym to undo what we have done over the years. A large portion of that hard work needs to come in the form of strength training or heavy resistance training. It is great to see that many of the fitness magazines and online publications have come to this realization and are now promoting resistance training as the key to burning fat. But it hasn’t completely convinced the masses. I know this because I hear over and over again from members who have a plan to start running every day they aren’t in the gym, “to burn some extra fat”. These are also, typically, the ones who avoid the strength days or if they do come in on a day of lifting, they put in enough effort to get them through it and to the WOD. If this has been your way of thinking and strategy, I encourage you to read this article from CrossFit Invictus - Training for Fat Loss. I was planning to go into the details of this topic, but found that Calvin Sun from Invictus had already done such a great job of addressing it with their members.
After reading the article dig around some more and find other reputable sources on fitness and I think you will find that the answer to the fat burning question has shifted from eating a low fat diet and logging time on the treadmill, to eating a smart, clean diet full of healthy fat coupled with strength training in the gym.
Once you have done your homework on the topic, go back and read yesterday’s post, schedule out your training days both in and out CFB and then start looking into the diet part of the equation. Then if you need more 1-on-1 help, schedule an appointment and let’s find a strategy that will work for you – I promise it will not be simply adding in hours of slow running to your busy schedule. It won’t be easy but you aren’t after easy, you are after lasting results.