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EXERCISE AND BOOSTING METABOLISM FOR WEIGHT LOSS
It’s going to be old news for you to be reminded that exercising is a big part of boosting your metabolism and burning up calories.
Unless you’re born with one of those unusually active metabolisms which allows you to, almost freakishly, eat thousands of calories a day without weight-gain consequences, you’re like the vast majority of us who need to give your metabolisms a bit of a kick through exercising. Now, you might think that cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise is an important part of boosting your metabolism; and you’d be right!
Provided that, of course, your qualified doctor confirms that you’re able to start a program of cardiovascular exercise, this is indeed the place to start. Increasing heart rate, blood circulation, body temperature, and oxygen intake/carbon dioxide exchange all send messages to the system to initiative catabolism (breaking down cells and using them for energy). Yet if cardiovascular exercising is the place to start, does that mean that it’s the place to end? No!
Many people, who aren’t as educated as you’ll be when you’ve finished this book, responsibly start a dedicated program of cardiovascular health, but they don’t go any further. Not because they’re lazy; but because, frankly, they don’t know that there is significantly more that they can do in their home gym, or at the fitness club, that will boost their metabolism even more potently.
We focus upon these added activities now, below.
BUILD MUSCLE FOR BETTER METABOLISM AND WEIGHT LOSS
Many people – particularly some women – are very leery about undertaking any exercise regimen that can lead to muscle building.
The old perception was that muscle building leads to muscle bulking, and before long, gorging forearm veins and other unwanted results. This is, frankly, not the case. Provided that women aren’t supporting their workouts with specific muscle-building supplements, there is no need to be concerned; because building lean muscle won’t make them bulk up.
Still, however, the question remains: why would women (and, of course, men) who want to boost their metabolism focus on muscle building? Isn’t cardiovascular exercising the only thing that matters?
Again, the answer is: No! In addition to a healthy and responsible cardiovascular program, muscle building is an exceptionally powerful way to boost metabolism. How? Because a pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat.
And what does this mean? It means (and get ready to stare in awe) that if you have more muscle on your body – anywhere on your body – you will simply burn more calories as a result. You don’t even have to do anything. You’ll simply burn more calories, because muscle simply requires more of an energy investment.
Of course, as you can infer, if you build muscle and then leave it alone, over time, the muscle fibers will weaken and you’ll lose that wonderful calorie-burning factory. But that’s no problem, because all you need to do is build and maintain healthy muscle.
It may sound daunting; especially if at the moment you perceive yourself to have much more fat than muscle. Yet the important thing for you to remember is that once you start building muscle – through any kind of strength training – your body will itself start burning more calories. It has to; even while you sleep, or go to a movie, or read a book. It’s like putting your calorie-burning (catabolism) program on auto-pilot.
So don’t let a little (or even a lot) of extra flab, at the moment, deter you from believing that muscle building is important.
Yes, you should enjoy cardiovascular exercise too, because that’s ultimately how your body is going to burn existing fat. But muscle building plays a profoundly supportive role in that pursuit.
And it’s an exponential one, too: the more fat you transform into muscle, the more calories you’ll burn simply to maintain that new muscle (and the wonderful cycle goes on and on!).
INTERVAL TRAINING ID GOOD FOR IMPROVING METABOLISM AND LOSING WEIGHT FASTER
The basic weight loss nuts and bolts behind cardiovascular exercise (or any kind of exercise, really) is, as you know, a matter of catabolism.
Essentially, if you can engineer your body to require more energy, your body will comply by breaking cells down to deliver it; and that process (metabolism) burns calories. Simple, right?
So based on that logic, something called interval training neatly fits in with the overall plan. Interval training is simply a adding high-energy burning component to your exercise plan on an infrequent, or interval, basis.
For example, you may be at a stage where you can jog for 20 minutes every other day, and thus put your heart into a cardiovascular zone during this time.
This, obviously, is going to help you boost your metabolism and thus burn calories/energy. Yet you can actually burn disproportionately more calories if, during that 20 minute jog, you add a 30 second or 1 minute sprint. Why? Because during this 30 seconds or 1 minute, you give your body a bit of a jolt.
Not an unhealthy jolt; remember, we’re talking about quick bursts here, not suddenly racing around the track or through the park! By giving your body an interval jolt, it automatically – and somewhat unexpectedly – has to turn things up a notch.
And to compensate for your extra energy requirements, the body will burn more calories.
It’s essential for you to always keep in mind that interval training only works when it’s at intervals. This may seem like a strange thing to say (and even difficult to understand), but it’s actually very straightforward. The metabolism-boosting benefits that you enjoy as a result of interval training are primarily due to the fact that your body, suddenly, needs to find more energy. While it was chugging along and supplying your energy needs during your cardiovascular exercising, it all of a sudden needs to go grab some more for 30 seconds or a minute; and in that period, it will boost your metabolism as if it were given a nice, healthy jolt.
As you can see, if you suddenly decided to extend your 30 second or 1 minute sprint into a 20 minute sprint, you simply wouldn’t experience all of the benefits.
Yes, your body would use more energy if you extend yourself to the higher range of your aerobic training zone. But your body won’t necessarily get that jolt that only comes from interval training.
So remember: your goal with interval training is to give your body a healthy jolt where it suddenly says to itself: “Whoa! We need more energy here FAST, this person has increased their heart rate from 180 beats per minute to 190 beats per minute! Let’s go to any available cell, like those fat cells down at the waist, and break them down via catabolism so that this person can get the energy that they need!”
Remember (sorry to be repetitive, but this is very important): the whole point of interval training in this way is to give your body a sudden, limited, healthy jolt where it needs more energy – quick!
If you simply increase your speed and stay there, while your body may, overall burn some more calories, it won’t get that jolt.
Also bear in mind that interval training can indeed last longer than 30 seconds or a minute.
Some experts suggest that you can use interval training for 30-40 minutes, depending on your state of health and what your overall exercise regimen looks like.
The reason we’re focusing on 30 seconds to 1 minute is simply to give you a clear understanding that interval training is a kind of mini training within a training program. And, as always, don’t overdo it with your interval training. Your goal here is to become healthier and stronger, and lose weight in that process.
You gain nothing if you run so fast or bike so hard during interval training that you hurt yourself. You will actually undermine your own health, and possibly have to stop exercising while torn muscles or other ailments heal.
VARIETY IS THE LIFE OF METABOLISM BOOSTING EXERCISES
They say that variety is the spice of life, and this is indeed quite true. But despite this awareness, many people don’t spice up their exercise program; which is surprising, since doing so often leads to valuable metabolism-boosting benefits. There are a few easy ways to add variety to your exercise program. We’ve already talked about interval training, and that is indeed one way to shift your body’s metabolic engine into higher gear.
Other effective ways are to break up a longer routine into smaller parts.
For example, instead of committing to 1x1 hour workout a day, it can be metabolism-boosting to split this up into 2x30 minute workouts; or even, on some occasions, 3x20 minute workouts. Furthermore, you can add variety into your daily exercise routine without formally exercising.
For example, you can take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or you can start your day with a brisk walk instead of a coffee and the newspaper.
Or, instead of parking close to the grocery store entrance, you can walk the distance between a far away parking spot and the entrance.
All of these tips provide two metabolism-boosting benefits. Firstly, as you can easily see, they can make exercising more fun. While, indeed, it’s important to have an exercise routine, you don’t want to have a boring exercise routine (because then your chances of stopping are that much greater!).
So adding these new elements to your overall exercise commitment simply helps encourage you to stick with the program. And since exercising is a core part of boosting your metabolism, any technique or tip that helps you continue exercising over the long term is a wise piece of advice. The second important benefit of variety in your exercise program leads us back to the interval training concept, discussed above.
When you add variety to your workout, your body cannot get into a groove. Remember: the body is a remarkable piece of work, and will always strive to do things efficiently. Naturally, the overall state of your health (which can be influenced by genetics and other factors outside of your control) will play a role in how efficiently your body runs. But regardless of how your body is put together, who what genetic influences you have to deal with, your body really likes you, and wants to do things as efficiently as it possibly can.
Therefore, when you start exercising, you body can start to develop a kind of expectation of energy output. It’s not
doing this to be lazy; it’s doing this because, quite sincerely, it wants to help!
If your body starts to predict that you need a certain amount of energy to complete a certain task (such as jog for 20 minutes), then it will start to achieve that energy output more efficiently.
For example, when you first start jogging for, say, 2 minutes a time followed by 5 minutes of walking, your body may require a great deal of energy to help you achieve this.
And as a result, you may find yourself very out of breath or tired as your body strives to meet this increased demand. Naturally, of course, catabolism will be involved, and your body metabolism will increase.
But over time, say a month or so, your body will simply become more efficient. It will have become stronger, and will be able to supply your energy needs much more efficiently; you may not even break a sweat!
What’s happened here is that your health has improved; your body has to work less hard to provide you with your energy needs.
Ironically, this can actually obscure your metabolism-boosting efforts; because, as you know, you want to tell your body to start the catabolism process. But if your body is efficiently working, it won’t really dig into its reserves (e.g. fat cells) in order to provide you with the energy that you need. So the trick is to keep variety in your workouts. Many people choose to cross-train for this very reason. It not only targets different muscle groups, but it keeps your body from finding a groove whereby it tried to help you by slowing down metabolism.
Remember: your body doesn’t read books like this; it doesn’t need to, and it doesn’t care.
It has no clue that a speedier metabolism is “good” or “bad”. Now, as far as you and I are concerned, we know that a speedy metabolism is a good thing in our weight loss efforts.
But your body doesn’t make this evaluation. And so it won’t turn on its metabolism jets because you want it to.
You can’t (unfortunately) send a memo to your body and ask it to please speed up metabolism.
If you could, then that would be amazing! But that’s not reality at all. What we have to do is force the body to say to itself: hey, I need to speed up metabolism because this person needs more energy!
And one of the best ways for you to force the body to have this kind of thinking is to add variety to your workouts.
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