Sunday, October 16, 2005

Women – Get Lean Now!

Optimize Your Workouts for Fat Loss:

Looking for the quickest and easiest way to shed body fat? Start incorporating anaerobic interval training and anaerobic interval resistance training into your fitness routine – and watch the body fat “melt” away!

As we pass the age of 30 many changes take place in our bodies that shunt the access of fat stores for energy. The major contributors to this problem are down regulation of the thyroid and a decrease in growth hormone secretion.

As many of my disciples know, I promote resistance training (especially anaerobic interval resistance training) as a way to shed body fat and promote lean mass retention. This is not some half brained theory that I came up with, but a scientifically proven path to a leaner, better feeling you.

But first, for an explanation, we have to go to the strangest of places in our bodies – the Mitochondria …

Mitochondria – The Oxidative Furnace

The place in the body where fat is burned (oxidized) is the cellular mitochondria. There are two controlling types of mitochondria: S-mitochondria and M-mitochondria. S-mitochondria are found in the body’s connective tissues while M-mitochondria are found in the body’s muscle fibers.

What’s interesting here is about 10 percent of total connective and muscle mitochondrion exists as S-mitochondria while 90 percent exists as M-mitochondria.

Standard low intensity aerobic training predominantly favors fat oxidation in the S-mitochondria along with decreased resting growth hormone levels and a blunted exercise induced growth hormone response.

Anaerobic threshold training such as anaerobic interval training or, better yet, anaerobic interval resistance training, favors fat oxidation in the M-mitochondria with an increase in plasma growth hormone levels and a greater exercise induced growth hormone response.

This means that anaerobic threshold training is about 9 times (or 900%) more effective at fat oxidation than traditional low intensity aerobics -- plus you get an increase in resting plasma growth hormone levels.

Not convinced? Wait, there’s more …

What is Anaerobic Threshold Training?

Anaerobic threshold training is defined as the point at which muscle fatigue is induced by the build up of lactic acid along with an increase in catecholamines. Anaerobic interval training would induce this response through (brief near maximal effort) exercises such as sprints, cross country skiing, or swimming. Anaerobic interval resistance training would elicit this response through the use of weight training.

Anaerobic threshold training causes a build up of citrate and lactate in the muscle tissues. These two bi-products inhibit the breakdown of glycogen and glucose in the muscle. When this cellular breakdown is inhibited, an increase in plasma growth hormone levels is noted. This growth hormone increase forces the muscles to rely more on fat oxidation as the primary source of energy. These fats (for an energy source) come from circulatory free fatty acids and triglycerides stored in muscle tissue.

Remember how I noted above that anaerobic threshold training results in a buildup of catecholamines? Well … When intense effort is induced – through exercise such as anaerobic interval resistance training – insulin secretion is suppressed by a group of chemicals called … you guessed it! – catecholamines! These catecholamines are better known as epinephrine (aka -adrenaline) and norepinephrine (aka – noradrenaline). Catecholamines stimulate the release of lipase enzymes which, in turn, triggers the release of free fatty acids from body fat stores into the circulatory system.

Not enough? Check this out. When we exercise for brief periods at near maximal effort (the definition of anaerobic threshold training) a cascade of events happens that eventually leads to the increase in the secretion of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). This increase in TSH up regulates the thyroid gland. This thyroid up regulation leads to an increase in your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

What does this mean? This means (when anaerobic threshold training is correctly applied) that even while you are sitting here, on your fat buttocks, reading this article, you are burning more calories – yes, you are actually getting leaner sitting here reading!

But first you have to implement anaerobic threshold training.

Structuring Anaerobic Threshold Training

Why is it called anaerobic interval training or anaerobic interval resistance training? Who could perform, continuously, 30 minutes of exercise at near maximal effort? … No one!

So, how do we put this information together in the form of interval resistance training?

Simple …

Pick two resistance exercises that you hate the most -- like squats and leg curls.

Find your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age) and subtract 10%.

For Example (a 40 year old female):

1. Heart rate: 220 – 40 = 180
2. Ten percent: 180 x 0.10 = 18
3. Anaerobic threshold = 180 – 18 = 162 beats per minute
4. Do 1 – 3 minutes of training at your anaerobic threshold.
5. Lower the intensity to 50% of your anaerobic threshold.
6. Do 1 – 3 minutes of training at 50% of your anaerobic threshold.
7. Repeat for 30 minutes.

This may seem a little complicated but I have found a very simple approach to training that puts you at your anaerobic threshold.

For anaerobic interval resistance training:

Pick a weight for the squats that you can barely get for ten reps and perform this on a 402 tempo (this gives a time under tension of 1 minute).

Rest 90 seconds …

Pick a weight for the leg curl that you can barely get for 10 repetitions and perform this on a 402 tempo (again this gives a time under tension of 1 minute).

Rest 90 seconds …

Repeat for 30 minutes.

For anaerobic interval training:

Pick an aerobic exercise (let’s use sprints)

Sprint as fast as you can for 1 – 3 minutes.

Walk 1 – 3 minutes.

Again, sprint as fast as you can for 1 – 3 minutes.

Repeat for 30 minutes.

Note - Anaerobic interval training can be applied to walking up hill, treadmills, stair-climbers etc.

Include anaerobic interval resistance training with 3 days per week of anaerobic interval training and you will get lean … real fast! Anaerobic threshold training burns about 100% more fat in 30 minutes than traditional aerobic training burns in 1 hour, and at the same time you will preserve your lean mass, increase your growth hormone levels – which burns even more fat … and up regulate your thyroid – so you burn more calories even while you are resting!

By the way, NEVER perform any anaerobic threshold training without first warming up, and NEVER start out at your absolute maximum. Work your way up (gradually … over several workouts) to working out at your anaerobic threshold.

And as always, be sure and get a doctors clearance before implementing any diet, exercise, or fitness routine -- because this is the right thing to do.

Author L. Rea, Building the Perfect Beast, 2nd Edition, 2002; 2003
American Council on Fitness, Personal Trainer Manual, 1196; 1197
Godfrey RJ, Madgwick Z, Whyte GP; The Exercise Induced Growth Hormone Response in Athletes; Sports Med. 2003; 33(8): 599-613

Written by John Westerman; Co-founder Health Thru Fitness, as dictated by Jenny May Clermont. For more information on properly applying this and other types of training to a healthy older lifestyle please visit;


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