Running for Fat Loss?

Driving through town the last few evenings I’ve witnessed an incredible amount of people out jogging.

I’ll guess it’s the new years resolutions kicking in and people are all out trying to lose a few pounds.
Fair play to them, but is there a better way?

Short answer:


Long answer:

Jogging is not the ideal weight loss training method, for a number of reasons. One of which is the damage it can do to the body.
I’m not anti running as seems to be fashionable in the weight loss/fitness industry at the moment, but i do think everything has it’s place.
For an unconditioned, overweight person starting out on a fitness program, running is not necessarily the best start point.

As we run each footfall can land with the force of up to 12 times your bodyweight. I weigh 85kg, so that could be 1020kg on every step being absorbed by my ankles, knees, hips and spine. Now I’ve years of running experience behind me but even in experienced runners this impact is still in the region of 5 times bodyweight (425kg)
If we run for 5 kilometers, that’s 5000 meters. An average stride length will be around a meter, so 5000 footfalls, each sending a tonne weight through you. All on unconditioned muscles and joints.

So for a start, those numbers ought to tell you that going from inactivity to road running isn’t wise. But it’s still not the full story, I used myself as an example, my 85kg bodyweight is around 12% bodyfat, that leaves 75kg’s of lean tissue, muscle, bone etc to take the impact.
For the Mr Resolution, he may be up around 25% bodyfat at the same weight. He will have 64kg’s of lean tissue, over ten kilo’s less than me at the same bodyweight, or if you like, equivalent to me running with a 10kg backpack on.

The potential for injury is very high, especially if like many at this time of year, you throw yourself headlong into your program.

And then there’s the actual calorie count. Weight loss, or more accurately Fat Loss os a two-pronged animal, it requires dietary discipline as well as elbow grease and sweat.
We’ve all heard the “Calories In Calories Out” discussion, burn more calories than you consume and you’ll lose weight. This is true. However it’s not the full story.

We are, as a species built to run, it’s something we’ve been doing since we stood on two feet. Our bodies are very efficient at it. A jog doesn’t require much more energy than a walk. and pretty much as soon as we stop our metabolism returns to a normal level.  You’re likely to burn around 6-800 calories during a run. So long as you eat clean, you will lose some weight.
The weight you lose may not be the weight you want to lose though.
As discussed, we are very efficient when it comes to running. But the body does know that it will perform better with less weight to carry.
As muscle outweighs fat, and fat is a useful energy store, whereas muscle costs energy to keep. What do you think goes?

Quite often runners and other cardio athletes seem to have a hard time shifting their spare tire. The body wants to keep its fuel store topped up.

So to lose bodyfat and get that beach body, running is only one part of the equation, and certainly not the first part.

So what is?

Strength training.

Build some muscle. Just sitting there a muscle is burning energy, the more of it you have the higher your resting metabolic rate will be.
Adding some muscle to the body will involve strength training, this will assist in injury proofing the body, strengthening the tendons and ligaments.
Training using full body workouts, alternating between upper and lower body with minimal rest will provide a cardio effect similar to running but without the impact.
Muscle building workouts, especially short sharp and intense sessions encourage the EPOC effect. This is a fancy way of saying that the metabolism burns at a higher rate for longer.

An aerobic workout will elevate the metabolism but it will return to normal within a few hours. An anaerobic workout will cause the metabolism to burn higher for up to 36 hours. So while you may burn more calories during a 20 minute run than you would in a 20 minute bodyweight workout, over the following 24 hours your total calorie burn will be higher for the strength session as the body does it’s best to rebuild the muscles stronger.

So for everyone who is out on their new years resolutions to lose weight, here’s a tip. Save the running for a while, come back to it later. For now you need to be working your strength, build some muscle, clean up the diet and I can guarantee you’ll like what you see.
Save the running untill after your workouts, or on the days between your workouts. And wherever possible run on grass or other soft surfaces and change pace regularly (intervals and fartleks).

Here’s a sample bodyweight workout, it can be done in less than 20 minutes and will charge your body into a fat burning furnace:

 1A: Jump Squat (regular squats for beginners)
1B: Wall Slides
12-15 reps of each, 3 sets

2A: Reverse Lunge
2B: Push Up
12-15 Reps each, 3 sets

3A: Overhead Squat
3B: Back Hyper
3C: Criss Cross
12-15 reps, 3 sets

If you need further guidance, feel free to come along to any of the classes, or take advantage of our online training service.




One thought on “Running for Fat Loss?

  1. Pingback: Building a bodyweight workout « Wild Geese Fitness Training

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