Metabolic Training – Part 2

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In Metabolic Training – Part 1 we looked at traditional views of weight loss, namely, dieting and doing a lot of steady state cardio. Cardio exercise is good, but it requires time and it can take its toll on the joints. Dieting works, but is not a long term solution. A long term solution is weight loss through metabolic strength training and body re-composition.

Metabolic training, or improving one’s metabolism, occurs by building muscle and exercising at a high enough intensity. Strength training builds muscle. High intensity interval training challenges your heart rate and improves your fitness level (VO2 max). Body re-comp is the process of losing fat while gaining metabolically active muscle which results in a higher percentage of lean body mass. Higher lean body mass burns more calories than fat mass. You will also be able to lose weight more easily without restricting your calorie intake.

In this blog we look at how to implement metabolic training.

Practical Tips

Strength Training for Fat Loss

The key for fat loss is to do muscle building activities at a high enough intensity to raise your heart rate. If you want to increase muscle and lose fat, it is not enough to go to the gym and do a set of bicep curls with 5 lb weights. Here are some tips for increasing the intensity of your strength training:

1. Choose exercises that use the large muscle groups. 

Target large muscle groups to raise the heart rate while building muscle at the same time. Examples include body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, step ups, push ups, pull ups, rows, shoulder press and planks.

2. Progress to compound exercises.

Combine different muscle groups or actions into one compound move. Examples of this include: Squat plus an overhead press; Lunge plus a biceps curl; Burpee with a push up.

3. Increase the execution difficulty of the exercise. 

Progress the exercise so that it continues to be a challenge. If you can do step ups on a 12″ step, progress to doing step ups on a 20″ step. If you can do push ups on an incline at your desk or counter height, progress to doing push ups on a lower incline, such as chair or coffee table height.

4. Work in high volume sets. 

When weight loss is the goal, aim to complete 16 – 20 reps per set. These longer sets will give opportunity for your heart rate to rise to a higher level.

For single leg exercises, such as step ups and lunges, perform 8-10 per side for a total of 16-20 altogether.

5. Decrease the recovery time between exercises. 

Begin with a circuit of 8 – 12 exercises. Rest after each exercise before going on to the next exercise. Begin with 60 to 90 seconds of recovery between sets and progress by decreasing the recovery by 5 seconds each workout.

After you are able to complete the circuit 3 times, progress to supersets. This means that you pair two exercises together with no rest between them. It works well to pair an upper body exercise with a lower body exercise.  Complete all the reps for the first exercise, immediately followed by all the reps for the second exercise, and then take your recovery. Work up to being able to complete each superset three times.

The next step is to do four exercises in a row and then take your recovery. This is a giant set.

When you progress from a circuit to supersets to giant sets, you are manipulating the amount of recovery by taking away one of the recovery periods.

6. Use heavy enough weights. 

After you can complete giant sets of the exercises, increase the intensity by increasing the resistance. Choose a weight or resistance that allows you to complete the required number of repetitions, but barely.

Continue to vary the resistance, number of repetitions, number of sets, and recovery time to provide continual challenges to your muscles and your heart rate.

High Intensity Interval Training

Any additional cardio sessions that you do on top of your strength training will be beneficial for heart health and weight loss. While steady state cardio sessions require a significant investment of time, high intensity interval training (HIIT) is time efficient and effective. For some “non-responders”, interval training will yield better results than steady state training alone.

An entire HIIT workout takes about 20-30 minutes: 5 minutes warm up, 10-20 minutes of intervals, 5 minutes of cool down.

The work interval is close to all out effort (85% max heart rate) for 20 seconds up to a maximum of 2 minutes. The recovery interval is 65% max heart rate. I like to do uphill runs for 30 seconds, followed by a downhill walk or jog for 1 minute – 1 1/2 minutes. You may want to begin with 20 seconds work intervals followed by a full minute or 2 minutes of recovery. Tabata timing is 20 seconds of work to 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds (4 minutes).

Do whatever all-out time of interval you can do (20 seconds or more), followed by the recovery you feel you need. Choose a target number of intervals, for example, 4. Then increase one interval per week. Alternatively, choose an amount of time for doing intervals, for example 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of intervals, start your cool down. The following week, after 11 minutes of intervals, start your cool down.

Additional Tips

1. Do strength training and interval interval training on alternate days. 

This allows muscle recovery between different types of workouts, and it also provides variety.

2. Walk regularly for recovery. 

Walking is an excellent active recovery exercise. You recover faster with light activity than with no activity. Walk every day if possible.

3. Be more active in general.

Any extra activity during your day counts as “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” (NEAT). Examples of this includes housework, gardening, lawn work, shopping or construction. NEAT can contribute up to 10% of your metabolism.

Calorie Quality

Make an effort to eat good quality calories rather than trying to diet. You may not have to change the total number of calories. What should change is the amount of low quality calories. These should go down. Instead, eat whole foods. Aim not to eat foods that come out of a package with a label. But if it has a package and a label, it should have one ingredient. If you buy a carton of egg whites the ingredients should say “Ingredients: Egg whites”. My package of almonds says “Ingredients: Almonds”.

Here are some more one ingredient whole foods: Eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, fish fillet, avocado, all fresh produce, all fresh fruit, brown rice, oats, barley, beans, lentils, extra virgin olive oil, almonds, walnuts, etc. Eating well is not more expensive than eating processed food. However, cooking your own food does require organization and prioritization. But what is more important than looking after your health and the health of your family?

In summary, weight loss is a matter of calories in and calories out. But not in the way that you might think. You are consuming higher quality calories and decreasing low quality calories. In terms of metabolic training, you will expend more energy not only during your workouts, but also after your workouts due to muscle building and muscle recovery.

Contact VAL at Contact if you are interested in our new body comp weight loss program or any other custom designed program for you. We look forward to seeing you reach your fitness goals!


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