Posted June 30, 2008 – Even if you’ve spent what seems like 80 percent of your life pedaling a stationary bike or taking walks at the park for weight loss, with little to no desirable results, do not give up hope. Because walking and the stationary bike are such easy, simple activities, it never dawns on many people that how you conduct these activities can make a huge impact on your weight loss goals.
In other words, walking and cycling in the “aerobic zone” has limitations, but walking and cycling in the “anaerobic zone” will ignite loss of body fat.
I’d like to acknowledge these two obstacles to weight loss:
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It isn’t about performance. It’s not about a gold-medal run around the gym’s track. It’s about putting your very best effort forth, even if all that amounts to is a sustained 4 mph walk. If walking 4 mph on the treadmill (keep hands off machine!) has you panting so hard that you cannot carry on a conversation, then this is the kind of exertion that will start melting body fat. And if your buddy next to you must run at 8 mph to start panting hard, then that’s his anaerobic threshold.
Everyone has a different anaerobic threshold, the point at which the body’s fuel system shifts from aerobic to anaerobic. The more fit a person, the higher his anaerobic threshold. You must find where yours is with walking and cycling. Here is how to do that.
Imagine you have a number scale, in which 1 is how you feel when soaking in a hot tub, and 10 is how you’d feel if you just outran a hungry lion. The idea is to feel like 10.
How must you alter your walking, so you achieve can a rating of 7-10? For some of you, it will be simply an increase in speed. For others, you’ll have to add hills or an incline (again, do not hold onto the treadmill). If you “house walk,” you will not get results. House-walking is the speed at which a person walks from one room in the house to another. Many people, struggling with their weight, do a lot of house walking and it won’t work.
You must enter into the anaerobic zone. In plain English, walk strenuously to the point where conversation is difficult, which a rating of 7-10. You can sustain a rigorous pace for up to 10 minutes. These are called work intervals. If you can last only one minute, that’s perfectly fine; execute a one-minute intensity interval. Between intervals, walk 1-2 minutes at casual effort, perhaps a speed of 3-5 on a treadmill. Alternate this way for 30 minutes or more (excluding warm-up and cool-down) and your body will burn fat like never before.
Apply this principle to the stationary bike. Put away the magazine and do not get involved in any TV show. After warming up, begin doing work intervals of 30 seconds to two minutes. Pedal at 100 rpms, but also, increase pedal resistance so that it’s very difficult to pedal this way for longer than between 30 seconds and two minutes. Then, pedal leisurely at 70 rpms (lower the resistance) for one or two minutes. Conduct these intervals for 30 minutes, then cool down.
A work interval can last five minutes. Experiment with different lengths of time. At the end of the shorter work intervals, you should be really out of breath. A longer work interval is less intense, which is why you can hold out for longer, and thus, after a five- or ten-minute work interval, you won’t be as winded as after a short high-intensity interval.
All the time, I see people sustaining an easy pedal pace on the bike. They don’t break a sweat. They don’t even breathe hard. Their legs merely move through motions. “Any activity is better than no activity” is absolutely the wrong motto to go by! Mere motion isn’t enough.
You must perform above your baseline. You must impose a demand on your body that it is not accustomed to. This will force your body to adapt to a challenging training stimulus.
In order for your body to adapt, it needs much more energy than usual. Where will it get this energy from? Stored body fat. Put your dormant body fat reserves to use. They are not needed for house walking or leisurely bike pedaling, but they will be raided if you commit to anaerobic exercise. Do not dread strenuous effort; embrace it.
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