Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fat Loss as Marathon, not Sprint

On Monday I discussed coupling strength training plus low-intensity activity for slow but steady fat loss. I referenced Alwyn Cosgrove's excellent article "The Hierarchy of Fat Loss."

The article opens up with a quote about a 28-day all out war on fat. This isn't really dissimilar to crash diets, wrestler's weight cuts or fighters dropping a weight class, or those "Two weeks to a bikini body" approaches. In spirit, anyway.

Monday's post takes the position that, generally, fat loss is a marathon, not a sprint. Why slow and steady instead of a quick, hard, all-out war on body fat?

Easy come, easy go. One problem with fast solutions is that as fast as they work, it's faster to bounce back.

Why is that?

Habits take time to ingrain. If you slowly but surely change your bad habits (poor eating choices, lack of exercise or inappropriate exercise, etc.) they are likely to stick around longer.

Sustainable = long term. When you make a training or diet choice, are you doing something you can keep doing every day, forever? If not, it's not a sustainable choice. It will end eventually.

Fast approaches end. The diet ends, the all-out exercise program ends, the overreaching training cycle peaks and recedes. Slow approaches can end too, but if your approach (such as Monday's suggestion) is strength training that doesn't overreach your recovery along with a permanent increase in overall low-intensity activity, it doesn't need to. You won't out-race your ability to recover from the workouts (indeed, you'll just get better at them if they're planned correctly).

Short term programs can work, and have their place (dropping that weight class, finishing up prep for that photo shoot or wedding party, etc.). But they're generally better coupled with a good, overall, long term program. A change of habit, not a diet or short-term sprint towards your goal.

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