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Is low intensity endurance training the best intensity for weight loss?

Fact or Fable?

Many people who want to lose weight often perform long cardiovascular workouts at a low intensity. Many cardio machines also provide guidelines wherein exercise on lower intensities is often named weight loss or fat burning zone. (Usually around 60-70% of Maximum Heart Rate). But is it the most effective training intensity for weight loss?

Metabolism Booster: Barbell Circuit

The training for todayBarbell Circuit: A barbell circuit with super effective but surprisingly simple exercises. The exercises in this barbell circuit are excellent to lose weight, burn fat, improve endurance and the ability to deliver force quickly. This does not mean that technique is not important. If you are unfamiliar with one or more of these exercises, practice them with an unloaded bar or even a stick. Otherwise use a barbell with weights with which you can do all exercises for the given amount of repetitions. So do not change the weights between exercises because continueing with the training is the key to succes. If you have access to more than one barbell you can use different weights so for example the leg exercises can be done at a higher weight and therefore intensity. 

High Intensity Bodyweight Workout

This is a bodyweight workout which improves strength and endurance and that can be done anywhere. Because of the high intensity, it is very effective in promoting weight loss and fat loss as well. You don’t need any training material or exercise equipment for workout.

Strength training for toning

Strength training Strength training for toningis an excellent way for both men and women to improve their figure and lose fat in unwanted places. However strength training is unfortunately not the first thing that comes to mind when someone wants to lose fat and improve their figure. Although men aren’t shy of strength training and lifting weights to look better, women are often scared of it, because they fear the body builder look. So sometimes they start special training programmes in which they perform strength training for toning rather than muscle growth. Does this work and if so, what do you need to do?

Interval training vs endurance training for weight loss

(7-25-2014) High intensity interval training,Interval training vs endurance training also known as HIIT is increasing in popularity because of its’ effectiveness in increasing endurance. It has also been consistantly shown that it is more effective in helping weight loss and stimulating fat metabolism than endurance training at one steady state intensity. Most interval training protocols used in those studies were quite high in intensity, but did take a fair amount of time to complete. To see if a shorter high intensity interval training can be effective as well, scientists of the Universities of West and Central Florida performed the following study which investigates which is better: interval training vs endurance training.

Dangers of too much belly fat

Dangers of too much belly fat

More than 60% of adults are currentlyToo much visceral fat overweight and the number of people who suffer from lifestyle related disorders such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and is rising rapidly. To make matters worse, in the western world these diseases are among the leading causes of death. Being overweight or obese is often a central factor in developing diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease and both body mass index (BMI) and body composition give a good indication to the risk of developing these disorders. In fact the BMI norms were originally developed based on research that found a connection between body weight relative to body height and risk of developing disease.

Tabata training

What is Tabata Training?

Tabata training is a form of high intensity interval training first investigated by the Japanese scientist Professor Izumi Tabata. The first few studies were primarily aimed at enhancing sport performance in athletes using short interval training sessions on a stationary bicycle. Every training consisted of eight 20 second sprints on a stationary bicycle at very high intensity alternated with resting periods of 10 seconds. After the training period endurance (maximal oxygen uptake) increased to a larger extend in the Tabata interval training group, despite the workouts being much shorter, compared with a group that performed regular modrate intensity endurance training for 60 minutes each training.1 Ever since that study, the Tabata interval training protocol has become very popular and is increasingly used to help (professional) athletes get fitter and help people lose weight.

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.

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.

Advice

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.

References:

-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.

Advice

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

Weight loss or improving body composition?

Many people wanting to improve their looks or their health seek to lose weight achieve this goal by dieting, a dedicated training plan or both. Often they set goals to lose a certain amount of weight. Others don’t use the scale to measure their progress, but look towards body fat calipers or other methods to assess their body composition. So the important question is: Which is better focussing on weight loss or improving body composition?

The advantage of setting a weight loss goal is that it is easy to measure weight. However, the weight lost can be caused by loss of fat mass, muscle mass, water or a combination of these. Measuring body composition allows to keep track of changes in the relative amount of fat during diets and weight loss training programs. Changes in body fat percentage better represent changes in someone’s health and fitness. As stated above, weight loss can also be caused by a loss of muscle tissue. This not only makes a person weaker and less fit, resting metabolism decreases as well. This makes retaining weight loss much harder.

Consider the following example:

Subject 1 and Subject 2 before weight loss:

Table 1 Subject 1 and Subject 2
Age 25 years
Length 182cm/6′
Weight 90kg/200lbs
BMI 27.2 (overweight)
Fat Percentage 25%
Fat Mass 22,5kg/50lbs
Fat Free Mass 67,5kg/150lbs

Subject 1 and Subject 2 followed different weight loss programs and the results are:

Table 2 Subject 1 Subject 2
Weight 82kg/182lbs (-8kg/-17.8lbs) 88kg/196lbs (-2kg/-4.4lbs)
BMI 24.8 (Healthy) 26.6 (Overweight)
Fat Percentage 23% (-2%) (Overweight) 18% (-7%) (Healthy)
Fat Mass 18.9kg/42lbs (-3.6kg/8lbs) 15.8kg/35.1lbs (-6.7kg/14.9lbs)
Fat Free Mass 63.1kg/140.2lbs (-4,4kg/9.8lbs) 72.1kg/160.2lbs (+4.7kg/10.4lbs)

In this example we can see several interesting things. First, Subject 1 lost more weight in total and therefore was no longer overweight according to the BMI. However, his fat percentage did not decrease as much and he is still considered overweight in this respect. This means that, although he did manage to lose some body fat, most of the lost weight was not fat, but muscles and water instead.

Subject 2 on the other hand did not lose as much weight, but did manage to bring down his fat percentage by a considerable amount. Enough to be classified as healthy when looking at fat percentage. The BMI in contrast, which depends only on weight and length, still classifies him as being overweight, even though the health risk as a result of too much fat has decreased considerably. Subject 2 managed to lose a lot of fat and actually gain some muscle mass. Not only does this make him look a lot better than Subject 1, he is healthier as well.

This example serves to illustrate that it is better to improve body composition, than to just focus on losing weight. Someone who gains muscle mass and burns fat mass at the same time, will look healthier and lighter than they actually are. Muscle tissue density is much higher than fat tissue density, meaning that in the example above Subject 2 looks a lot slimmer than Subject 1 despite being heavier.

See also:

-Is Cardio Training the Best Way to Lose Weight?

-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

 

Strength training for weight loss

Although more often considered a training to
Strength training for weight lossincrease the size and strength of your muscles, strength training for weight loss is an often overlooked form of training when it comes to losing weight and burning fat. There are however several important reasons why strength training is very important for weight loss.

Strength training costs a lot of energy

Strength training requires moving of heavy weights and therefore requires quite a bit of energy, which is the prime requisite of weight loss. The energy needed to activate the muscles and move the weights is generated by the anaerobic system. This metabolic system delivers energy very quickly, however it produces many byproducts that need to be cleaned up which costs energy as well. Lower intensity cardio exercise, relies more on aerobic systems which are far more efficient and even clean up these ‘waste’ products. In other words high intensity strength training requires the body to spend energy recovering, while lower intensity exercise requires constant work for it to be effective.

Strength training increases metabolism

Strength training, when done right, damages muscle fibers slightly which need repair afterwards. In addition, adaptations to the muscle are necessary after training such as increasing strength. Recovering from training and adapting to it cost energy and therefore raise metabolism above resting levels for up to a few days. Moreover, since muscle tissue needs a constant supply of energy, even when it is inactive, increasing muscle mass helps burn more energy everyday and therefore is a great help while losing weight.

Strength training stimulates fat metabolism

Not only does strength training increase metabolism, after training it will stimulate the body to generate energy by burning fat in favor of carbohydrates. As said above, the high intensity of strength training requires the anaerobic systems to generate a lot of energy using several sources among which carbohydrates. By doing this, in essence the body receives a signal that sometimes large amounts of carbohydrates are necessary for a short period. This signal will cause the muscle to save the carbohydrates for when they are necessary for high intensity work and ‘choose’ to burn fat instead.

Strength training prevents weight regain after weight loss

Although weight loss can be realized in multiple ways, adding strength training prevents the loss of muscle mass that often causes the weight loss during dieting. Since muscle tissue needs constant energy, maintaining or even increasing the amount of muscle mass you have will help keep the lost weight of and prevent the yo-yo effect.

Strength training makes the body look athletic

Most people want to lose weight to improve their appearance and looks. Strength training helps shape the regions of the body that become visible when you lose weight. Losing weight by dieting and losing muscle mass will only reveal loose skin, veins and bone underneath. Training the muscles and stimulating them to at least maintain their size, will reveal healthy muscles and yield a healthy and athletic look desired by many.

Training tips

As you can see, strength training is vital in a healthy weight loss program that yields long lasting results. To maximize the effectiveness of your training keep in mind the following:

-Train all muscle groups during each session

-Perform two to three sets per exercise of 8-12 repetitions each at maximum weight

-Don’t rest too long between series (30-60 seconds)

See also:

-Weight Loss: What Works and What Doesn’t?

-Strength Training makes women large and bulky

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.

Conclusion:

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.

Fact or Fable: Fat Metabolism starts after 20 minutes of exercise

To improve body composition and weight loss it is often recommended by fitness experts to perform cardio training for a duration of 30 minutes or more. It is said that fat metabolism starts after 20 minutes of continuous training. After 20 minutes glycogen stores should be depleted and the body is forced to burn fat instead. Is this true or not and is this the most effective way of losing weight and improving body composition?

Firstly a large body of research has shown that exercising for longer durations is not necessarily more effective than short high intensity workouts in improving body composition. Moreover, the latest research has shown that low volume high intensity interval workouts are far more effective in stimulating fat loss than high volume moderate intensity exercise.

Secondly, the body will always try to burn fat and save the limited carbohydrate store for when it is necessary to work at higher intensities. The body of an average human only has enough carbohydrates to exercise at higher intensities for 20-30 minutes, which explains the source of this fable, but these stores can be increased by proper exercise as well.

It is true that when exercise intensity increases, the anaerobic energy systems are the first to supply the necessary extra energy and it takes a while before the aerobic systems, among which fat oxidation, have increased activity enough to supply the required energy. However, this process only takes a few minutes depending on training status. This means that if exercise intensity allows it, someone exercising for 20 minutes will be burning fat for at least 17 minutes.

Fat does not burn as easily as carbohydrates and therefore energy for performing higher intensity exercise will be provided by carbohydrates. However, when the body exercises regularly at these higher intensities, which do not allow fat metabolism or limits it, the body gets a signal to improve the efficiency and capacity of fat metabolism so it can sustain higher exercise intensities while using primarily fat.

In conclusion, fat metabolism is one of the most important energy systems in the human body. The body always strives to burn fat to produce ATP if possible or will adapt to allow for more efficient fat metabolism, making it easier to lose weight and improve body composition. However training duration does not have to be longer than 20-30 minutes to use fat or to be effective in weight loss if exercise intensity is high enough.

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.

 

Training against obesity

Obesity is a serious form Fitness against obesityof being overweight and is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30. Trying to lose weight while being obese does not necessarily mean a different approach than being overweight, but there are some key points to keep in mind during when training against obesity. Many people who have become obese by not exercising enough and an unhealthy diet, have an altered metabolism This makes it harder to use fat to produce energy and therefore makes it more difficult to lose that fat. In other words, when someone gains weight, it gets progressively harder to lose it again in a healthy way, because the body has increasing difficulty to burn the excess fat and is only able to burn carbohydrates for energy. 

Spot reduction during weight loss

Many people want to lose weight and fat, preferably at the problem zones like the abdomen or hips. To achieve fat loss on the abdomen, many people perform abdominal exercises or they use special machines which claim to stimulate local fat loss such as the Better Belly®, Slim Belly® or similar devices. It seems logical that the muscles which are active during an exercise burn fat that is closest to the muscle. However, unfortunately spot reduction is not possible and here is why:

There are several reasons why you can’t choose the location where fat is removed. Firstly, when performed right, the intensity of resistance exercise is too high to burn fat. Even when the intensity is low enough to burn fat, it will not disappear on the locations nearest to the active muscle, but the fat will come from free fatty acids in the blood.

These fatty acids are released by fat stores throughout the body, and the body determines which fat stores release the required fatty acids. This is influenced by body build, sex and therefore genetics, but can’t be influenced by exercises targeting specific locations or devices that claim to mobilize fat at a certain location. There is no scientific evidence supporting the workings of such machines nor is there any theoretical mechanism which could support this theory.

There is however some evidence that resistance exercise influences hormone levels which regulate where fat is stored, and when resistance exercise is performed right, fat mass is reduced to a larger extent on the abdomen. To achieve this, all muscles should be trained at a high intensity. The only other way to achieve local fat loss is that really works is a visit to your local plastic surgeon.*

* Note: This is an ironic statement, plastic surgery is not a field of specialty of Fitness Science and we don’t recommend it specifically to achieve local fat loss.

References:

-Heyward, V.H. (2010). Designing Weight Management and Body Composition Programs. Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription Sixth Edition. USA. Human Kinetics.

-Spriet, L.L. The Metabolic Systems: Lipid Metabolism. In: ACSM’s Advandec Exercise Physiology. Lippincot Williams & Wilkins USA.

Waist Circumference

Waist circumference is a measurement that gives an indication of fat related health risk. Although your body composition is an important indication as well. Not everyone has access to a reliable device to measure body composition such as an MRI-scan or DEXA scan or to someone skilled with a skin fold caliper. To measure waist circumference only a flexible measurement tape is needed so it is accessible to practically everyone and not complicated. In addition, body fat is not distributed in the same way for everyone. Two persons with the same relative amount of body fat can store their fat on different locations such as hips or inside the abdomen. Since internal abdominal fat (see also visceral fat) greatly increases risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus type 2 and more visceral fat corresponds with an increased waistline, this measurement can help indicate whether or not you are at increased risk for developing these disorders.

How to measure waist circumference

Take a flexible measurement tape and put it around your waist. The tape measure should be held above the navel but below the lowest ribs at the narrowest point of the torso. Make sure the tape measure is completely horizontal and that the one who is measured stands upright and relaxed and before measurement breathes out normally. Compare the value with those in Table 1 below to get an indication of developing cardiovascular disease or other fat related conditions.

Waist circumference norms (in centimetres and inches)
Men Women Risk category
Less than 94cm (37 inch) Less than 80cm (inch) Low
94-102cm (37-40 inch) 80-88cm ( inch) High
Greater than 102cm (40 inch) Greater than 88cm ( inch) Very high

Table 1: Waist circumference norms

Note: these norms apply to Caucasian adults and Asian women. Currently not enough data on other ethnic groups is available.

Risk category:

Low: You are not at increased risk of developing lifestyle related diseases such as cardiovascular disease. You can maintain your current lifestyle, although it does not hurt to improve it further.

High: You are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease or other lifestyle related diseases. Either improving your diet, decreasing your energy intake or starting strength and endurance training will help losing weight and abdominal fat.

Very high: You are at very high risk of developing lifestyle related diseases. Large changes in lifestyle in multiple areas are necessary to improve your health. Improve your diet, decrease your energy intake, start training to increase muscle mass and improve cardiovascular endurance and exercise more every day.

References:

-Bushman, B. (2011). Assesing Personal Fitness. Complete Guide to Fitness & Health. First Edition. USA Human Kinetics.

-Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. 2007.