Why do you go to the gym? I asked this in my newsletter this week?
I would say that my top 4 answers would be:
1. To lose weight/fat/tone up
2. To burn off extra calories
3. Because it makes me feel good when I am on an exercise program
4. To get stronger/increase lean muscle mass
Now these are all great answers, so let’s look at each one individually.
1. Will you actually lose weight, tone up or lose fat once you start exercising?
The answer is MAYBE!
For the most part you will as long as two things are combined with the exercise,
a) you have your nutrition under control and
b) you are doing exercise that is progressively harder then last month, or last week.
2. Yes exercise burns calories but is ‘burning calories’ going to get you closer to your goals?
Most people who exercise to burn calories are exercising to “lose weight, lose fat, or tone up”. So lets look at how many calories exercise actually burns.
All of these figures are per hour of activity.
Weight Lifting- 204cal
Jogging 8km- 544cal
Spin Class- 637cal
Light activity (office job)- 98cal
As you can see sitting around doing nothing (light activity) you are burning almost 100 calories per hour. That means your average bout of exercise only burns an extra 100 to 537 calories per workout. Bear with me while we do some calculations….
If you want to lose just 1 pound of fat per week you would have to burn 3500 calories more then you intake.
Lets say the average workout burns 400 calories that means you must do about 9 one hour workouts each week to achieve 1 pound fat loss.
That’s right 9 HOURS OF EXERCISE!
So if you want to lose weight by just burning calories….
3. Exercising because it makes you feel good is obviously important
Exercising should make you feel good and should not make you so sore that you can’t perform daily functions. Exercise should make you move better, in other words, more flexibility, less aches and pains, better balance, and stronger.
Don’t think that you need to do Yoga or hours of stretching to get flexible, any well designed exercise program should accomplish all of the above. The main reason we lose flexibility these days is all the sitting we do. We teach our bodies to perform many tasks from a seated position, when it was never meant to do so.
When we do this we shut off the ‘mover’ muscles we are supposed to use in everyday life and start using the ‘mover’ muscles for things we are not suppose to use them for. Then you start exercising or adding load to your body again and the mover muscles don’t work properly and it usually results in pain, discomfort, or muscle tightness.
4. If you are stronger everything is better.
Why do men lose weight quicker than women in most cases? Because they usually carry around more lean muscle mass then women.
It is said that each pound of lean mass on your body burns 50 extra calories per day. That means when you are not exercising you burn more calories. It also means that after a strength training session you will burn more calories in the 24 to 72 hours after a workout while the body recovers.
The rest of this article on Functional Fitness appeared in my regular newsletter – if you want to see the whole article it is here . And if you live near Twickenham and would like a free personal training consultation please contact me.