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Question
Posted by: spinner | 2004/01/12

spinning to big muscles

I have been spinning for a year now, and my leg muscles are getting to be.rather large., absolutely no weight loss...I am now being told that i musnt go over 75%, because instead of eating up my fat, going over that will leave the fat and take to protein and sugar in the blood stream, and for the best fat loss, i must stick between 65 and 75%, now if i go over 75% accidently, and go back to 65%, will I go back to burning fat, or will i carry on using protein and sugar from the blood?????

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Our expert says:
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HI Spinner

There is a lot of confusion and misconception about this one. Ever since people noticed that heart rate goes up as intensity goes up, they have used it to gauge exercise intensity. Then, when it was noticed that the fuel that is used also depends on the exercise intensity, it was thought that heart rate monitoring was a good way to train at just the right zone to burn fat. In theory, this is true, but there is more to it than this. What happens is that at low exercise intensities (less than 60% of maximum), the main source of fuel used by the body is fat. As exercise intensity increases above 65 to 70%, progressively more and more of the energy that is produced comes from the carbohydrate stores, meaning that fat contributes a smaller overall percentage of the total energy use. However, and many people forget this, the overall energy use also increases, so that, even though fat might be contributing less as a percentage of the energy, it is still being used in larger quantities. That means that the total amount of fat being burned per minute might actually be higher at higher intensities, which is what you want. So, many people make the mistake of trying to go at a low intensity, to burn fat, which means that they are probably using more fat than carbohydrate, but the overall energy used is so low that the results are barely noticeable.

SO, basically, the body does not have certain ‘zones’ at which it uses just fat and then just carbohydrates – there is no on-off switch, but a gradual change from fat to carbohydrates, which means that you have to find the exact intensity to burn more fat in total, not more fat as a percentage, if you follow my logic. Also, at slightly higher exercise intensities, the total energy that is being used is greater, which means that the total amount of fat that is being used is also greater – so, to answer the question, I’m more in favour of higher intensity training to burn fat. However, a word of caution, this does not mean going out and training hard all the time. You have to find the right balance. Your goal should be to use the greatest total amounts of fat, and this means that the duration of the training must also be long enough to burn more fat. So, it’s not only the intensity, but also the duration that is vital. That’s why you can’t just go out and train at 90% of maximum – you would tire very quickly, meaning that your total fat and energy use would be relatively low.

Therefore, my advice would be to aim for an intensity between 70 and 80% of maximum. In your case, anything between 150 and 175 bpm would probably be about right – the main thing is to be able to finish a session of 45 minutes or so of training feeling like your breathing is elevated, that you’ve had a hard session, but that you are not completely exhausted. The other piece of advice is that you could also exercise at a low intensity (60 to 70%), with short periods of high intensity in between. So, say you are cycling for 45 minutes, every 9 or 10 minutes, you could pick up the intensity for one minute. This type of training is very good for fitness, performance and weight loss.

Now, there are a few possible causes for your lack of weight loss, and I'm guessing at these, since I don't know much about the training. For example, it might help to:
1. Increase the intensity and frequency somewhat. You see, the body burns most fat at about 80% of maximum, but the problem is that most people can's maintain 80% for long enough to burn much fat. Therefore, you have to settle on an intensity that you can maintain for 40 minutes or so, but that is also high enough to burn fat in fairly large amounts.Also, increasing from 3 days a week to 4 or 5 will make a large difference to your overall energy expenditure and metabolic rate, and so this is worth giving a try.

2. It is also important to do some weight training, as this will help to speed up your metabolism, increase muscle tone, and lose weight in the right areas. If you have access to a gym, ensure that you are shown how to do each exercise correctly, to prevent injuries.

Here are some general guidelines for weight training:

If your aim were to build muscle, the following guidelines will help you:
· Perform 6-10 reps at a high intensity - use a weight that you could lift 12 to 15 times
· Perform 3-4 sets
· Rest 30-60 seconds between reps
· Train each muscle group at least once or twice a week
· Allow 48 hours rest between each muscle’s workout

If your aim were to tone muscle, the following guidelines will help you:
· Perform 10-15 reps but at a much lower intensity - use a weight that would allow you to lift the weight at least 25 times.
· Perform 4-6 sets
· Rest 30-60 seconds between reps
· Train each muscle group at least once or twice a week
· Allow 48 hours rest between each muscle’s workout

Also diet is essential. What often happens, is that people start training and then almost subconsciously eat more because they are exercising, and this prevents weight loss. Therefore, you must be 100% sure that your diet is ideal to allow weight loss. For this, I would suggest Diet Doc, or seeing a dietician, as they are more able to advise you.

Good luck
Good luck

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Jason | 2004/01/14

I just wanted to add my 2cents worth to the question of why your weight has not gone down and I have two possible reasons.

Firstly when you exercise more, you will normally end up eating more.

Secondly you may actually have lost fat but at the same time are gaining muscle. I have heard that muscle weighs six times more than fat. If you want to reduce weight I would say you should rather spin at a lower gear and a higher cadence. This will not produce muscle size but rather tone and will test your cardio more than muscle. Therefore, fat will not be replaced by large muscle mass....

Hope this helps ;-)

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