Definition of Boot Camp
a high-intensity program aimed at teaching total mental and physical fitness

What's best for fat loss, low intensity or high intensity workouts?

Let’s solve the debate on low intensity vs. high intensity workouts.  There are many conflicting
statements about how long and how hard you need to exercise in order to lose weight.

A high intensity workout, defined as exercises which push your heart rate up to 75% of its maximum or more,
is infinitely better. High intensity workouts have been proven to increase metabolism and burn more calories.
In fact, high intensity burns 9 times more fat per each calorie burn during exercise.
 The reality is that the activity
that expends the greatest amount of total calories will lead to the most amount of fat burned!
Best of all, the benefits become evident in a matter of weeks!

3 days a week, beginner level minimum. 
4 to 5 days weekly best for optimal results and fat loss.
6 days for trained athletes.

Higher intensity = higher fat-burning 24 hours a day.
I am sure you know that building muscle gives your body great curves as well as a great fat-burning boost. Almost all energy production and calorie burning takes place in your muscles. The more muscle you have, the more efficient a fat burner you become.  Low intensity exercise does not build muscle.  Moving at a slow, easy pace just does not require a lot of muscle power.  As you push yourself out of your comfort level, whether in class or on your next run, you begin to recruit more muscle fibers and require them to contract more quickly and with more power.  Your body responds to this by building more lean fat-burning muscle. 

High intensity workouts have been proven to increase metabolism and burn more calories.  In fact, high intensity burns 9 times more fat per each calorie burn during exercise. The reality is that the activity that expends the greatest amount of total calories will lead to the most amount of fat burned. The best part is, the benefits become evident in a matter of weeks!

Risk?  "Am I too old, too fat, too out of shape?"
Higher intensity exercise does not necessarily mean high impact or all-out sprinting. It simply means working out a bit faster than your normal easy pace. Low impact can certainly be high intensity. 

Think about this simple low-impact routine that will give you a great calorie burn and leave you breathless (grab your dumbbells and get low):  20 Dumbbell V-squats, 20 Renegade Rows, 10 Dumbbell Presses with walk-out thrusts and pushup.  Now side-squat with dumbbell lateral arm raises across the court to 20 downhill skiers at long bands, and 40 fast arms in low seated position.  Repeat side squats with DB arm raises facing opposite direction across the court.  Repeat mat series of exercises.  Wipe your face, get a drink.  No running, no jumping, lots of sweat, big calorie burn - 10-12 minutes.  Verteran campers should be bringing 8 lb. dumbbells and trying to use them for many, but not all, of these moves.  Add a little weight and you will double your calorie burn and skyrocket your metabolism.

Push yourself a little harder each day, each week - there are so many benefits!  It strengthens your tendons, joints and bones, which will help you avoid injury. It builds your muscles so that you are stronger and more powerful and burning more calories in your sleep!  It increases your level of fitness twofold and decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease.

It's a no-brainer.  Easy exercise is physically easy. That is one of the main reasons so many people exercise at an easy pace. It does not require a lot of effort. The next time you're at the gym or driving down the street, take note of how hard each person is working.  Rate them from 1 to 10 in your mind.  You won't see many at the 7 to 9 level (walking with a cell phone, watching TV on the treadmill - where's the heavy breathing!). Faster paced exercise requires more effort.  It must feel uncomfortable.  You won't love it...until you're finished.  Keep at it and you'll soon be addicted to that adrenaline rush!  As one of our campers said, "It hurts so good!"  Is higher intensity training worth the effort?  Don't doubt it for a minute, you bet it is. 

There is no question that faster paced workouts are more challenging and require more effort. But the results are worth the effort. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and no one would be overweight or out of shape. 

The combination of the highest intensity you
can muster with a 45-minute duration can create an enormous calorie burn. Some of that calorie burn will occur after the workout as well, because studies have shown that EPOC is influenced not just by intensity, but also by duration.  EPOC, or Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, is how many additional calories your body will burn after the exercise session is over in order to return your body to the state it was in before the exercise took place.  The bottom line is that "three days a week for 20 minutes" will not produce results. The frequency, duration AND intensity all need to be adjusted based on your results.

If the intensity is high enough, three twenty-minute cardio sessions
be sufficient for you, depending on your goals, your current level of fitness and your actual results, but longer and more frequent cardio sessions are sometimes a "necessary evil" to reach your desired goal of optimal fitness and/or weight loss.

Low Intensity Workout:
90% x 7 calories per minute = 6.30 fat calories burned per minute

High Intensity Workout:
60% x 14 calories per minute = 8.40 fat calories burned per minute

After you do the math, you can see that you burn a greater amount of fat tissue calories from a high intensity workout than a low intensity workout (8.4 vs. 6.3 calories burned per minute).

I’m not saying that low intensity workouts are bad. Low intensity exercises are perfect for warming up and cooling down, before and after high intensity phases. Low intensity exercises are also good for the elderly, anyone recovering from an illness or injury, someone who is significantly overweight and out of shape, or someone who is just beginning to workout.


Break a Sweat!
Suzanne Stringfellow, CPT
President/Program Director/Head Coach
Adventure Boot Camp for Women

» 3-5% reduction in body fat
» 5-12 pounds of weight loss
» 1-3" decrease in the midsection
» 25% increase in strength
» 25% improvement in endurance
» Better relaxation
» Greatly improved posture
» 100% gain in self-confidence
Register now

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