Tag Archives: endurance training

Strength training to lose fat

Many people train in a gym or fitness center to lose weightStrength training to lose fat or improve their looks. It is often thought that the best way to lose weight by burning fat is to perform cardio training. Outside the fitness centers, many people can be seen running or cycling ot lose weight. Although cardiovascular exercise is an excellent method to burn a lot of calories, especially when performed at the right intensity, strength training or resistance exercise is often overlooked. Strength training to lose fat is not done by many. This however, is a missed oportunity. Resistance exercise can help greatly in burning fat and improving body composition, because it increases resting metabolic rate.

Training for martial arts

To optimize performance and prepare for competitionstraining for martial arts, many athletes employ a combination of resistance and cardiovascular exercise. Martial arts athletes who want to improve their performance face different challenges than most other athletes. Weightlifters can focus on developing only strength for one lift and endurance athletes on increasing his oxygen uptake. People who are training for martial arts do not have this luxury of specialisation. For optimal performance, their muscles must be strong and fast yet also have good endurance and allow for flexibility. Additionally, the body of a martial arts athletes must also be able to withstand impact forces delivered by rival athletes. And while the barbell of a weight lifter will always act the same and runners generally run on the same surfaces, allowing once again specialised technique for their sports. A martial arts athlete has to decide which technique to use and when. Moreover, rival martial arts athletes also add to the variety since no opponent is the same and can be defeated in the same manner. It is clear that great training challenges awaits those who choose the road of a martial arts athlete and hope to perform. This article aims to clarify the training demands and highlight the important aspects of training for martial arts.

Exercise order: strength or cardio first?

Many people wonder about exercise order.Strength or cardio first? Which part of fitness training, cardio or strength training, should be performed first. Both alternatives have advantages and disadvantages so it is hard to give a clear answer but the advantages and disadvantages of each method are outlined below.

Determining your maximum heart rate

Determining maximum heart rateA very important part of cardiovascular training to consider is the training intensity. The training intensity is one of, if not the most important fator in achieving results with cardiovascular training. Several ways to determine the training intensity are available, which are discussed in this article. Exercise intensity can be expressed in various ways, but the most accurate method that is practical as well is to express it as a percentage of maximum heart rate.

When expressing the intensity in percentage of maximum heart rate, it is necessary to determine maximum heart rate (MaxHF). An easy method to determine MaxHF is the following formula: MaxHF = 220 – age. For example, someone who is 40 years old would have a MaxHF of 220 – 40 = 180 beats per minute (BPM). However this formula is based on an average, and as is often the case in populations there is a certain deviation from the average, which in this example is 12-17 BPM. In other words, if we translate it to the example of 40 year old people, 68% of 40 year old has a maximum heart rate between 168-192BPM and 95% will be between 156-204BPM. As one can see, the spread is quite large, which makes the formula above not the base training intensity on.

The best method to determine MaxHF is to determine it during exercise. This requires a reliable heart rate monitor, and intensity during the test is increased progressively until a plateau in heart rate is reached. This test is very exhausting and should only be performed by healthy people or people who have permission from their doctor.

When the training goal and MaxHF are determined, the training heart rate can be determined. This is done by multiplying the required training intensity with the MaxHF. For example, when someone wants to train at an intensity of 75-85% of HFMax and HFmax is 180, the heart rate range to train at is: 135-153BPM (180 x 75% = 135 and 180 x 85% = 153)


-Baechle, T.R., Earle, R.W., Aerobic Endurance Exercise. In:Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. Third Edition. Human Kinetics 2008.

-Wilmore, J.H., Costill, D.L., Kenney, W.L. Cardiorespiratory responses to Acute Exercise. In: Physiology of Sport and Exercise. Fourth edition. Human Kinetics 2008.

Bootcamp: What Is It And Why Should I Do It?

Bootcamp is a form of fitness training that is performed outdoor. BootcampThis form of training is based on the training recruits in the American Army have to perform to physically and mentally prepare them for duty which is also known as Bootcamp. Typical Bootcamp training involves combinations of running and interval training, strength exercises and core training. Whenever possible the surroundings are used to perform certain exercises such as a tree branch for pull ups. Most strength exercises during a typical Bootcamp class are bodyweight exercises such as push ups, pull ups but climbing up and over obstacles is also possible. There are more specialised Bootcamp classes that do make use of training materials such as kettlebells, Sandbags and/or tree logs.

Advantages and disadvantages

Bootcamp training is a very effective workout and can be used for several different goals. During a typical Bootcamp class the participants run at a moderate intensity and perform interval training at high intenseties to improve endurance. The strength exercises are perfect to increase strength and especially local muscle endurance. A combination of strength and endurance training is according to many studies very effective for losing weight and burning fat. (This is supported by our own study to the effects of a Bootcamp training program). Bootcamp combines different forms of training and it therefore improves several aspects of fitness at the same time without specialising in one in particular.

For who?

Bootcamp training can be done by practically anyone. The exercises and training intensity can be adapated to almost all fitness levels and there are classes for beginners and more experienced and/or fitter individuals. A good instructor that helps you perform exercises with proper technique is very important. This makes the training both safer as more effective.


To improve endurance, lose weight, burn fat and increase muscle strength and endurance, Bootcamp is a very effective allround training method. Although these effects can take place with only one training each week, it is recommended to perform two to three Bootcamp training sessions each week, especially when you want to lose weight and fat. Choose a Bootcamp training class that suits your current level of fitness and experience and of course a certified trainer.

What is Crossfit and what is it good for?

What is Crossfit and what is it good for?

Crossfit is a form ofCrossfit fitness training that has recently become very popular. Crossfit has been founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman and Laura Jenai and has grown significantly ever since. Crossfit training uses elements from different training forms and sports such as weight lifting, power lifting, strongmen training, exercises using one’s own bodyweight and interval training. It is aimed to develop all aspects of fitness which according to the founders consists of strength, speed, power, anaerobic endurance/capacitycardiovascular endurance, joint flexibility (ROM), balance, coördination, agility and dexterity. The underlying thought is that someone can only be fit, when he or she scores well in all these domains and has no weak links anymore. Therefore Crossfit training does not aim to specialise in one domain, but to become the ultimate allrounder. Aside from a training form, Crossfit has become a sport as well in which athletes compete with eachother for the title of fittest man or woman in the world at the Crossfit Games.

Although Crossfit training constantly varies and differ between boxes (Crossfit gym) there is a common template which is generally followed. A training always consists of a warm up, followed by strength and/or technique training in one or more strength exercises. After this, the Workout of the Day (WOD for the initiated) follows. A WOD consists of a combination of exercises that have to be completed as quickly as possible (a training for time) or have to be performed as many times as possible within a set time period (as many reps as possible or AMRAP). Training intensity therefore is in virtually every WOD very high. The exercises within a WOD normally combine push and pull movements and leg exercises. By constantly varying the exercises, all muscle groups will be trained regularly.

At the moment of writing not much research has been performed to the effects of Crossfit. The few studies that have been performed indicate that Crossfit is a very effective from of training to increase maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) and improve body composition. This can be explained by the high intensity of Crossfit training, which reaches 80% of VO2max and 90% of maximum heart frequency. Although no studies have been performed to the effects of Crossfit on strength and power, studies on similar high intensity training programs show that Crossfit is likely to be effective in this area as well.

One of the most common points of criticism on Crossfit is the relatively high risk of injury. Quite a few exercises from weight lifting require good form and technique. In addition many exercises are explosive in nature which causes higher joint forces than during regular resistance training. Another factor is letting your body take time to recover from the high intensity workout. However, when exercises are taught properly and are performed with the right amount of weight, the risk of injury decreases markedly and comparable to regular resistance training or sport-specific training. Proper instruction is paramount, even for more experienced Crossfit athletes.

For who?

Because training weights, training intensity and frequency can be adapted to suit everyone, Crossfit can be an effective and suitable form of training for everyone who is healthy. Many exercises are explosive in nature and people suffering from injury or pain may have to reduce training intensity or perform an alternative exercise. As always however, care must be taken.

What can I use it for?

Although not much research has been done on Crossfit training it has been proven very effective in improving endurance, decrease bodyfat percentage and increase strength. It can be used to improve sports performance in a particular sport until a point, however when one wants to specialise in a specific sport, sport specific training will yield better results.


Losing weight and fat: Two to three times a week for beginners.

Improving endurance: Two to three times a week for beginners. More experienced athletes up until five times a week or combined with high intensity interval training.

Improving speed, power or strength: Two to three times a week for beginners. More experienced athletes up until five times a week, or combine with seperate strength or power workouts.


-Crossfit Schagen

-Smith, M.M., Sommer, A.J., Starkoff, B.E., Devor, S.T. Crossfit-based high-intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 2013, 27, 11, 3159-3172.

-Babiash, P.E. Determining the energy expenditure and relative intensity of two Crossfit workouts. 2013.

-Voordouw, R.R. Het Verband tussen Zware Krachttraining en Schade aan gewrichten, 2007.

What is Spinning and what is it good for?

What is Spinning and what is it good for?Spinning

Spinning has always been one of the most popular fitness classes. A Spinning class involves cycling at different resistance levels and speeds while sitting or standing on the pedals on a stationary bicycle. The Spinning instructor is usually res
ponsible for designing the class, choosing the music and can suit it to the needs of special populations such as older people or people suffering from medical conditions. On average, a Spinning class takes between 30 and 60 minutes.

Advantages and disadvantages

Spinning can be seen as a form of interval training which depends on both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. This makes it very effective in increasing the maximum oxygen uptake and therefore endurance. In addition it is very useful for losing weight and burning fat.

For who?

Spinning can be done by people of all ages and fitness levels. Participants can adjust the resistance level of the bike themselves and adjust it to their own fitness level. The fitness instructor can adjust the intensity of the class to suit specific needs of beginners, elderly or athletes. People suffering from knee problems need to be carefull though because of the high loads placed upon the knees during Spinning.


Improving Endurance: To improve endurance it is recommended to perform a Spinning class two to four times a week. Beginners are advised to start with two classes a week and add one or two each week as they get fitter. Fitter individuals can start with three classes a week or more.

Lose Weight: To lose weight and burn a significant amount of fat it is recommended to perform a Spinning class two to three times a week. Although an additional class a week can help to lose weight more quickly, it usually is more effective to perform a form of strength or resistance training instead.

See also:

-Cardio Training for Weight Loss

Is cardio training the best way to lose weight?

Many people who want to lose weight at some point runningtry cardio training in one form or another to achieve that goal. But is cardio training the best way to lose weight or should they look elsewhere to lose fat?

It is true that cardio training can help lose weight. It burns a lot of calories and improves the body’s ability to burn fat, which aids weight loss. However the main drawback of losing weight by cardio training is the same as with an energy restricted diet. It does not prevent the loss of muscle mass associated with a caloric deficit, or in other words, when you eat less calories than you use each day. The loss of muscle mass decreases resting metabolism, which makes it harder to lose more weight and more importantly, makes it harder to keep the lost weight off and prevent the yo-yo effect.

In addition, when too much cardio training at moderate intensity or higher is done, stress hormone levels such as cortisol start to increase beyond normal values, which not only breaks down muscle tissue but is not beneficial for health in general. Performing too much cardio training at moderate intensities is not too hard to reach. From six hours each week and more, cortisol levels start to increase and muscle damage from training is impaired.

Cardio training in the form of high intensity interval training can be very effective in helping to lose weight. Loss in muscle tissue tends to be less and therefore there’s less risk of regaining the lost weight. However, when combined with a healthy diet and strength training, the effects on weight loss and health are more profound. This combination helps to maintain muscle mass and resting metabolism, improve health and lose fat at the same time. In addition the body will look more athletic and fit after weight loss instead of just thin.

In conclusion, although cardio training can help you lose weight, it is much more effective and healthier to combine it with a healthy diet and strength training to achieve permanent weight loss and a healthy look.

See also:

-Strength training for weight loss

-Cardio training for weight loss

Cardio training for weight loss

Cardio training has classically been the training cardio training for weight lossform most used to achieve weight loss and improvements in body composition. And not without reason. Cardio training can be done in many different ways and is a very effective component of training for weight loss. Here are the reasons why cardio training for weight loss is a good idea:

Cardio training burns a lot of calories

The most well known reason why many people perform cardio training is because it allows burning a lot of calories in a relatively short amount of time. Your energy consumption can easily increase five fold and for up to ten fold when the duration of training is not too long. And a higher metabolism means more burned calories and more weight lost.

Cardio training increases metabolism

Due to the prolonged stress on the body, after training the body needs to recover and adapt. This process requires a lot of energy, which can increase energy requirements above base resting metabolism. A phenomenon also known as excess post exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC This means that more calories are burned when the body is at rest, which makes it easier to lose weight. This advantage is especially pronounced after high intensity interval training.

Cardio training increases fat metabolism capacity

One of the more important adaptations to cardio training is that the aerobic system will improve its efficiency. Since this is the system responsible for our fat metabolism, this is one of the most important benefits of cardio training. This means the body is better able to provide energy for lower intensity activities in daily live by burning fat. When the aerobic system is not as efficient, the body will have to burn carbohydrates instead, making weight loss much harder.

Training tips

Cardio training is a very important part of your training when striving for weight loss. To maximize its effectiveness keep the following in mind:

-Perform cardio training on a machine of your choice. Examples are treadmill, stationary bicycle, cross trainer, stair master or rowing machine.

-For maximum training adaptation train at high intensities. This means well above the intensity when talking during exercise gets difficult.

-Perform interval training rather than continuous cardio training at one intensity.

-Interval training should be done for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes. If you can go on after that, you should have trained at a higher intensity.

See also:

-Strength training for weight loss

-Fact or Fable: Fat matabolism starts after 20 minutes of exercise


Benefits of Cardio Training

Cardio training or endurance exercise or aerobic exercise,running is a well known form of fitness training. Cardio training is characterized by movement by large muscle groups for prolonged periods of time resulting in an elevated heart rate and breathing frequency. Examples of aerobic exercise are jogging, cycling, or use of a stationary cardiofitness machine, such as a crosstrainer or stairmaster.

Weight loss: what works and what doesn’t?

Every year, losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolutionWeight loss. And just before the summer, a lot of people try and lose weight or get in shape to look their best at the beach. A lot of different methods are used to achieve this. From diets, training regimens, fat burners, sauna belts and power plates. To help people lose the pounds, we present a list with the most effective and ineffective or even unhealthy methods to lose weight and fat.

The things that work:

  1. Healthy Nutrition

Many people think that they eat healthy, only a few really do. The body needs the right amount of nutrients to function properly and sufficient calories of course. The fact remains that, in order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in, but it is more important to get the right amount of vitamins, minerals and proteins. This makes sure your body functions optimally and can therefore burn more fat. In addition you tend to lose less to no muscle mass while eating a healthy amount of protein.

  1. A combination of resistance and cardiotraining.

Wheight loss occurs when more energy is used up than taken in. Training increases the amount of calories used, but we also optimise energy systems in our body, and therefore the capacity to burn fat. This last effect even helps us lose weight, while not working out. Additionally, resistance training makes sure no muscle mass is lost during weight loss, therefore preventing the well known yoyo effect.

  1. Exercising regularly and often

Aside from training, regular physical activity such as walking or riding a bicycle, is very important. This will activate the body, increase the amount of calories used and therefore help in losing weight. It will help the body in recovering from a training and reduce stress hormone levels as an added bonus.

  1. Rest and sleep

Although everyone focusses on nutrition and training while losing weight. Resting and especially enough sleep are very important for health and weight loss. When you don’t sleep enough, the body can’t recuperate enough, stress hormone levels will rise and you will lose muscle tissue sooner.

What doesn’t work or is bad for your health?

  1. Diets

Diets are at best a temporary solution to lose weight. When you stop with the diet and eat what you are used to eating, the lost weight comes back often accompanied by a few extra pounds. The worst diets make you lose muscle mass as well, increasing the chances of the yoyo effect.

  1. Long cardio workouts

Although it is not difficult to lose weight by performing a lot of cardio training and endurance improves as well, too much cardio training can increase muscle breakdown. One of the primary reasons is that stress hormones keep building up. A combination with some form of diet often increases this effect. Furthermore cardio training hinders recovery from training for as long as the training takes. It is better to perform high intensity cardio training for shorter periods. This is more effective and the time you save can be spent on recovery.

  1. Fat burners

There are some fat burning substances that are proven to be effective and safe. However the effects are generally small, and could be used in combination with healthy nutrition and training. Green tea extract is a good and safe example. The fat burners that are effective on their own, are potentially dangerous and illegal in most countries. Among these is Ephedra.

  1. Sauna belt

There are several weight loss programs which incorporate a heated belt tied around the waist during training. The heat from the belt, softens up the fat so the body can burn it more easily, or so they claim. No research can back these claims up however. The body determines the location of fat loss, not your clothing. At best the heat from the belt decreases the amount of water around that location for a short time. When someone loses weight using this method, it can be attributed to the training performed while wearing the belt, not the belt itself.

  1. Power Plates

A lot of research has been performed investigating the effects of the power plate in rehabilitation and weight loss. For weight loss, it is just as effective as the sauna belt. It does not add anything. In other words, how much weight and fat you lose depends on how you train with it. On the other hand, if you enjoy training on it, it can’t harm either.


Unfortunately there are no miracle cures. When you want to lose weight you have to work for it. The most effective method is to perform both resistance and cardiovascular exercise, and combine this with healthy nutrition. In addition make sure you walk or cycle regularly an sleep sufficiently.

When are you training too much?

Exercise normally stimulates the body to recover and through this process improve endurance, strength or other variables through super compensation. Well performed fitness training will increase growth hormone secretion, which stimulates recovery and rejuvenates tissue. A higher training frequency and training intensity normally results in better results. This is true up to a point. While it does not happen too often, it is possible to break down the body instead of improving performance by training too much.

This can occur when someone for example performs resistance exercise two times a day targeting the same muscle groups. This is rare however, since resistance exercise stimulates anabolic hormone production, such as growth hormone and testosterone, which stimulate recovery.

In addition the intensity of resistance exercise, when performed right, is too high to sustain for longer periods or very often because of muscle soreness. When performing cardiovascular exercise, one runs a greater risk of overtraining, because the total exercise duration is often longer and relative intensity is lower than resistance training. The longer duration increases cortisol production, a stress hormone which breaks down muscle for energy and inhibits testosterone production. The lower intensity does not stimulate growth hormone and testosterone production as much as resistance exercise.

So on the one hand, cardiovascular exercise can break down the body and inhibits recovery and on the other hand, not much growth hormone and testosterone is produced to stimulate recovery. As a result, people get weaker by training too much. In addition, the immune system is suppressed, increasing the risk of infection. This does not mean that cardiovascular exercise should be avoided altogether, it merely means that one should be wary of performing too much exercise without adequate rest. The negative effects of too much training can already occur by training 8-10 hours per week, which is normal for quite a few endurance athletes.

Cardiotraining: Are you training hard enough?

Cardiotraining training is an essential part of a healthy and effective training program and can be used to achieve multiple goals. When performed correctly it strengthens the heart, increases quality of blood vessels and lungs. Therefore it is very useful for people suffering cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus (especially type 2) and COPD, but it is most often used to increase endurance or to lose weight.

The important question is however, how do I know if my cardiovascular workout is performed at the right intensity? An often heard and persistent fairy tale is that for losing fat, low intensity training is the most effective. This is not right however, and many studies show that higher intensity workouts result in larger amounts of fat loss and larger increases in endurance and oxygen uptake.

To determine the right intensity, it is possible to use a heart rate monitor and calculate the right heart frequency, but this requires a good quality heart rate monitor. Another simple way is to check if talking during training is still possible. When someone can continue conversation, the body apparently has enough oxygen to allow disruption of air flow for talking and no real training occurs. When only a few words can be spoken at a time during training, while breathing heavily, training is far more effective. The reason for this is that the body needs almost all oxygen to go to the muscles to maintain exercise.

When no more air is available to speak, the aerobic system is completely active and the anaerobic system has to deliver the energy that the aerobic system is not able to generate. As the body strives for balance and anaerobic metabolism disrupts this balance by for example an decrease in pH, it will improve aerobic function so it is better able to meet training demands. This will increase the intensity at which someone gets trouble speaking and it will stimulate resting metabolic rate and fat metabolism, making weight loss easier. When one is not able to speak during training, training intensity is high enough to receive the benefits of cardiovascular training, which do not occur at lower intensity.


How long should you train?

Many people think that the longer one trains, the better the results. Although a certain amount of training is necessary, it is possible to train too much or too long. So how long should you train?

One of the factors involved is the amount of glycogen the body still has in store to use during exercise. When the body’s glycogen stores are emptied, it can not sustain a high training intensity and muscle tissue will be broken down to supply the necessary energy.

Normally, the body has sufficient supply for 45-60 minutes of fitness training. In well trained athletes this supply can be increased to 90 minutes. It is therefore important that a training never lasts for more than 60-75 minutes (this time is longer because fitness training allows recovery periods). Sometimes training for a longer period is possible, but make sure carbohydrates are replenished by a sports drink or other fast carbohydrates.

During training the body produces the stress hormone cortisol. When it is produced in large quantities and it can not be broken down because one trains too long, cortisol levels can rise more permanently. This is seen as one of the causes of overtraining, in which performance decreases and recovery from training is slow. An elevated cortisol level breaks down muscle mass, effectively countering the effects of training or even breaking the body down further.


The oxygen uptake or VO2 is the amount of oxygen that the body takes in to supply the oxygen which is required for several physiological processes. The oxygen is absorbed by the blood through the lungs and transported to various tissues throughout the body that require oxygen. At rest most oxygen is consumed by the heart, brains and internal organs. When exercise starts, the VO2 increases (breathing frequency and tidal volume both increase) as exercise intensity increases. The brain still needs the same amount of energt, but the heart and active muscles require the largest part of the oxygen uptake. VO2 will continue to rise as intensity rises until it reaches its maximum value or VO2max. VO2max is often used as a measure of endurance and is seen as the most important determining factor in endurance events such as cycling. The VO2max is often expressed relative to bodyweight (L*min-1*kg-1), but sometimes as an absolute value (L*min-1).


-Guyton, A.C., Hall, J.E. (2000). The Cell and Its Function. Medical Physiology. Tenth Edition. Philadelphia, USA. W.B. Saunders Company.


The mitochondrion is an important cell organelle. The most important function of a mitochondrion is to generate ATP. The mitochondria are therefore often called the cells’ power plants. Mitochondria are present in almost almost all cells, but the number of mitochondria in a cell depends on the amount of energy the cell needs, and therfore large numbers of mitochondria are present in muscle fibers. The concentration of mitochondria is dependent on muscle fiber type and the demands placed upon the muscle. In addition the number of mitochondria in a muscle fiber adapts to endurance training or low intensity high repetition resistance exercise, which both target the aerobic system and stimulate the mitochondria to replicate.


Lactate is a substance produced during the anaerobic breakdown of glucose or glycogen. This process is also known as the anaerobic glycolysis. It is continuously produced and can be used to generate more ATP in aerobic metabolism or transported to the liver to be converted to glucose. Contrary to popular belief, lactate is not responsible for metabolic acidosis, or acid buildup in the muscle.

Lactate Threshold

The lactate threshold is the training intensity at which the concentration lactate starts to accumulate in the blood stream. Lactate, or rather lactic-acid, is a by product of the anaerobic glycolysis, which is an system which produces ATP at higher exercise intensities or when the aerobic energy systems are not yet able to generate the necessary ATP.

Interval Training

Interval training is a form of cardiovascular workout which is characterized by periods of higher intensity exercise followed by periods of lower intensity for recovery. In contrast, regular cardiovascular workouts consist of maintaining only one intensity of exercise for a prolonged period. Research has shown that interval training has considerable advantages over conventional cardiovascular training.