Running for fat loss? Think again!
Want to lose body-fat?
If so, don't rely on running to get you there.
Now, before you get your fingers ready to send me fiery hate mail, hear me out.
Let me explain what I mean by running and what constitutes the type of running I'm talking about.
If you were to say, "I'm going for a run", most people would think you were about to go for a 10-30min run.
Continuous, steady-state and minimal change in speed throughout. Wouldn't you agree?
This is the type of running that will be referenced throughout this article.
Running can be a great way to lose weight, but to lose fat, not so great long-term.
This is due to the fact that when you run, you don't work at a level higher enough to build muscle (which helps to increase your metabolism).
It's also not quite high enough to elicit an EPOC response (Energy Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). This is where you burn more calories, even after you finish exercising.
So what can you do to help burn fat, if you like to run?
There are 3 main solutions that you can look to use. We will go through one at a time.
1. Don't run... Sprint!
Sprinting is running though!
Yeah, but no.
Ask yourself this, when you last went for a run, "did you ever hit top speed?". I mean, like your equivalent of Usain Bolt's 100m race.
The answer is probably 'no'. Which is fine.
What you can do to take your running to the next level, is just that. Take the speed up a level or two (or three).
Do a 10 min jog for your warm-up, then a few bursts at 75-90% of your MAX speed.
Now that you're nice and warm, with your mind and body primed, you can try some sprints.
- Do repeat sprints
EG: 5-10x 100m MAX EFFORT sprints, with 2-4 mins rest in between bouts
- Incorporate sprints into your steady-state work
EG: Pick a post/bin/house that is anywhere between 40-80m away (roughly) and run as hard and fast as your body can, until you reach your target. Slow it down to a walk as your rest.
Slowly build the speed back to your steady-state once you have recovered, and repeat that cycle 4-8 times.
2. Change the terrain or speed
This method is quite simple and means that you just mix up the route that you go running, or alter the speed of which you run.
If you have access to hilly terrain, or just one big hill, this will be perfect for you!
You can either work the full duration of your run going up and down the 1 hill, or if you have access to hilly terrain, like a trail run, use that.
This will force you into higher heart rates and also force your muscles to contract harder to propel your body up the hill, or gradient of the ground you're running on.
As an added bonus, you will probably enjoy the surroundings a little more, and also benefit from the fresh air. Fresher than a sweaty gym anyway!
The second part of this tip would be to simply run faster.
As in, move your legs at a faster rate than you normally run. That's it :)
3. Incorporate weight-training to compliment and build your running
If you are adamant that you won't give up running, (and not that I actually want you to) you can actually use weight training to build it up.
Running can be made easier is by simply getting stronger.
Ground-breaking, I know!
Every time your foot hits the ground (called a foot-strike), your body produces force to propel you forward.
So wouldn't it make sense to use less energy per foot-strike, thus making running 'easier'?
If your strength levels increase, you will use less energy per foot-strike.
This in-turn means you can run the same distance faster, or run a further distance in the same time period.
If that sounds like something of interest to you, my general recommendations would be:
- Incorporate 1-2 weight training sessions per week, on top of your running days
- Use whole body exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, lunges and their variations
- Incorporate anti-movement core exercises, (such as planks and band static holds) to strengthen the core and midsection. NO SIT-UPS or CRUNCHES
- Start with higher repetitions and lower weights
- Progress to heavier loads, with fewer reps gradually over time
Now you have 3 options to try and work in with what you are currently doing.
This isn't meant to replace what you are already doing though, it is designed to be used in conjunction.
Recapping the solutions to add to your current running program;
1) Don't run. Sprint
2) Change the terrain or speed
3) Incorporate weight-training to compliment and build your running
Small adjustments in a plan is generally all that's required to see new results occur.
Lastly, feel free to reach out if there is something that you need further clarification on. I have tried to keep it simple though.
Because simple works.
Until next time,
Make small adjustments.
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