The Truth Behind Cardiovascular Exercise And Spot Reducing!

Many of our experts can tell you what works for them but relating it to you and your individual biochemical structure is another.

It amazes me that in all the time I've spent in and around the fitness Industry, that so much of the information we have learned and hold as truth has no medical or scientific basis. Many of our so-called experts and Personal Trainers, have little or no formal education in a related field. Their knowledge is gained reading the same magazines as you. Their only claim to knowledge is that have "Competed before or have been lifting for 15 years." Oh yea, and they bought a Personal Training Certification. Well, I'm 42 and have been driving since I was 16, so I must be a mechanic! Anyone got a car I can fix!

Relating To Individuals Biochemical Structure

Many of our experts can tell you what works for them but relating it to you and your individual biochemical structure is another. Millions of people a year join health clubs and go on diets, yet 62% of American adults are now considered overweight or obese. Six million children in this country have a similar problem.

Health clubs work on an astonishing 72% attrition rate (IHRSA) and 65% of that drop out occurs within the first 6 weeks. Why so high? People go to the gym to change the way they look. When this doesn't happen, they become discouraged and drop out.

If these individuals were given correct information, the results would be greater and the retention higher. The principles I'd like to discuss, when done properly and in the correct progression will certainly jump start your metabolism and get you on your way to a new you. There seems to be some confusion around what exactly is metabolism.

Losing Muscle

People relate age, pregnancy and other things as to why their metabolism has slowed down. Understand that we loose approximately 1/2 lb of muscle per year through aging from 30 on. The easiest way to explain that is think of it as "How many calories does your body burn a day at rest." Where does one-burn calories, (what tissue is responsible) and what fuels are burned for different type of exercise. (Aerobic vs. anaerobic) Remember we burn calories in muscle. Muscle is your fat burning machinery. Hopefully this will help you to hold on to your hard earned muscle to become a better fat burner. It's time to Muscle Away Fat!!! The more muscle you have the more calories you burn at rest!! Plain and simple.

When determining whether you should perform cardiovascular (i.e. aerobic) or weight training (i.e. anaerobic) exercise first, it is important to establish if you have the luxury of training twice daily. If this is not the case then it will make a significant difference whether you begin your workout with cardio or weight training. The first step in the decision-making process should be to determine what you actual goals are.

If you are attempting to build lean body mass, then it may not be necessary to engage in cardiovascular exercise. However, if your goal is to lose body fat and build muscle, then effective training routine would be one in which you do your weights before your cardio or just cardio first thing in the morning.

The reason why it is important to do your weight training before your cardio is because each activity has it's own energy supply source. Anaerobic exercise, such as weight training uses stored glycogen (i.e. carbohydrates) as its energy source. Therefore prior to engaging in anaerobic activity, it is necessary to fill the body's glycogen stores as much as possible in order to get optimal results during your weight training sessions. How many of you have done your weight training on an empty stomach or no Carbs, believing that your body would then use fat stores for it energy source. Sit ups won't use fat stores for it's energy.

Aerobic Exercise

Participation in aerobic exercise (e.g., bicycling, running) necessitates the utilization of both glycogen and fat stores for energy. At the onset of cardiovascular activity, your body will rely primarily on glycogen stores for energy. Carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of fuel. Depending on your cardiovascular fitness, your body will burn its glycogen for energy for the first 5-25 minutes. This is why it is important to have a glycogen deficient state prior to beginning your cardiovascular exercise. (I.e., 1st thing in the morning empty or post weights).

Your body will begin to burn the most amount of fat when it enters the second stage of cardiovascular activity. While in this second stage, you will not only burn the greatest amount of fat, but you will continue to utilize your glycogen (i.e., sugar) stores. It is not possible to burn fat alone without the presence of glycogen (i.e., stored glucose). One other step in this process is the utilization of monitoring your heart rate. Fat burning is best accomplished at low intensity and long duration. Yes it is proven that high intensity Cardio will burn significantly more calories (with the possibility of muscle loss) but also proven that low intensity, longer duration sessions burns a higher percentage of fat! Calculating your target heart rate is essential in being a fat burner not a muscle burner. To calculate your target heart rate simply use the formula below:

220 - age = ?
Multiply that number by 65% and 75%
Example we have a 30 year old,
220 - 30 = 190
190 x .65 = 123.5
190 x.75 = 142.5

Or to do it the easy way, fill in the blanks below!

There are two different ways to calculate your maximum heart rate and your target heart rates. The method I just explained is the simple method.

The Karvonnen formula is more advanced since it also takes into account your resting heart rate. This is your heart rate at complete rest. To determine this, take your pulse for 60 seconds just before you get out of bed... or take it for 30 seconds and multiply by 2.

This person's ideal fat burning zone is 123-143 beats per minute. Most of our top health clubs cardio machines have heart rate monitoring capabilities. If yours doesn't, the purchases of a Reebok Strapless Heart Rate Monitor may be in order. Not knowing whether you are in your target heart rate or not is the downfall of many hard working people. Not monitoring your heart rate is the "Rhythm" method of getting in shape.

Weight training workouts only utilize glycogen for energy, therefore your glycogen or carb stores need to be as full as possible before your weight training sessions. A significant amount of both glycogen and fat stores are depleted during cardiovascular activity. If you begin your workout with cardio you will have exhausted a substantial amount of your glycogen stores. As a result, when you begin your weight training routine you will not have the energy necessary for an optimum and productive workout. Keep in mind how important it is for you to have eaten properly before your workout.

In my next entry I shall discuss the myths surrounding "Spot Reducing, Toning and Firming. Is it possible? What is the physiology behind building more muscle, while simultaneously losing fat?

For any questions about this article or any other questions direct them to the "Shred Queen" at or here at!