You may be surprised to know that highly trained athletes DO NOT effectively burn more fat after their workouts. Just because they’re an elite athlete and train a lot, it doesn’t mean that their body is efficient at burning fat. Gasp! What do you mean? Athletes are in the best shape of their life!
Although that may be partly true, most athletes train specifically for their sport, since enhancing their skill is a huge part of their performance. And since skill is developed by repetition, doing the same activity over and over again is the best way to get better at their chosen sport. But repeating the same thing over and over again does nothing to increase your ability to burn fat.
A recent study found that people who train a lot and lift heavy weights did not increase their EPOC level after their intense workouts. (EPOC, which stands for excess post exercise oxygen consumption, basically indicates how much calories your body burns after a workout. The higher the EPOC level the more calories you burn.)
However, this was not the case in untrained people. Although their workouts were (relatively) less intense and they lifted much lighter weights (...again relative to the trained group), they displayed a significantly higher increase in their EPOC levels, much more than the trained group.
Now don’t get me wrong…this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive to lift heavier weights or workout with high intensity. The fact is, the more stimulus you put on your muscles the more intense the workout becomes and the more effective your muscles will respond by building lean strong muscles.
So what gives?
Well, the real significance of this study is adaptation. Your body adapts when you repeat the same activity over and over again. Whether it be lifting weights or practicing a skill, your body becomes more efficient at performing that activity. It’s great when you’re trying to learn a new skill or improve upon a certain skill (ie. golf swing), but it’s a bad thing when it comes to burning fat.
This is why I’m a huge fan of mixing things up and changing up your workout routines often, so that your body doesn’t have the chance to adapt and reach a metabolic plateau. Keep in mind, your body has an amazing capacity to learn and adapt, so if you’re goal is to maximize your metabolism and burn as much fat as possible…you have to constantly keep your body guessing, so it doesn’t have time to completely adapt.
That being said, changing things up too often isn’t good either. Your muscles need time to build strength and size which is part of adaptation, and switching things up too often won’t allow your muscles to maximize it’s growth potential. There’s a fine balance between adaptation and change.
For me I’ve found the magic number to be between 3 - 4 weeks.
This is why in my MAX Workouts program, I change the workout routines up every 3 weeks. I’ve found that it’s the perfect combination of building lean and strong muscle while maximizing your ability to burn fat for each workout.
Of course there are other factors that need to be addressed as well, like the types of exercises (full body exercises), the kind of workouts (short high intensity workouts) and diet, but if you’ve been working out and have noticed your progress has stagnated a little, it may be time to switch things up and give your metabolism a kick start again.
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Women, discover the biggest mistakes that are sabotaging your workouts. Plus, learn the only way to use high intensity intervals, strength, and circuit training to get maximum fat-loss & muscle tone.