This is the second in a three part post series in which I am presenting the results of several fitness test that I recently had in order to help figure out how to get over this weight plateau. Make sure to go back and read the post about my resting metabolic rate test before continuing if you are concerned with proceeding in chronological order. Also, this is a long post. Sorry.
So we have determined from my resting metabolic rate test that I have an above average metabolism (albiet slightly). I guess that means that being fat for so long was more because I ate like an idiot and never moved more than it was about genetics. We also learned that I need to be eating more calories because I have been starving myself. I haven’t felt like I am starving, but science is science right?
So now that I know a little more about my diet, let us dissect my exercise routine a bit.
VO2 Max Test Results
The VO2 Max test tells you how effectively your body uses oxygen when exercising. This information can then be used to determine your optimal workout zones.
According to the test results, I am LOW on the athletic scale. No real surprise there. I have only been regularly exercising now for less than a year. If I were a life-long soccer player or an Olympic cyclist then I would have expected something different.
My measured VO2 Max was 34.5 (even though the EP said that I peaked at 36.9 but it was at the end of the test and that I didn’t hold it long enough to register.) My aerobic threshold for heart rate was 104 beats per minute and my anaerobic threshold for heart rate was 124 beats per minute. The EP said that she would add 5 bpm to that number if I was running instead of biking because running has more resistance and impact which affects the threshold a bit.
Basically that means that when I am working out, if my heart rate goes above 124-129 beats per minute then I am entering the anaerobic workout zone. Science says that the aerobic workout zones are where you burn fat and the anaerobic workout zones are where your body expends its stored supply of glycogen, or carbohydrates.
This is where some of you guys might take issue with the whole “fat burning zone” vs. just burning as many calories as you can zone. I didn’t even really know that there was a difference. Some studies are saying that there is no “fat-burning” zone and that you should always try and burn as many calories as possible going just as hard as you possibly can. Here is my EP’s response to an article that said the bottom line is burning calories.
1- While it IS true that interval training burns more overall calories, the majority of the calories burned are carbohydrate calories that are stored in your muscles as glycogen. Endurance rides (or fat burning rides) burn less overall calories but the majority of the calories are stored on your body as fat. The article argues that a calorie is a calorie but here’s where that’s problematic: Your body wants that glycogen back but it can live without the fat. And if you don’t put the glycogen back correctly and timely it will encourage you to do so in the form of sugar cravings later into the day. Lower intensity, fat burning exercise doesn’t have the same effect on bodies that have been properly trained to burn fat. Therefore, you may ultimately burn more calories in an interval ride but it’s what happens the rest of the day that finishes that story…
2- Our bodies simply cannot sustain high intensity training day after day, week after week, month after month. We need lower intensity days to help our bodies learn how to burn fat, to recover, and to improve fitness. Just as you can’t continue to add floors to a high rise building without ensuring the building has a solid foundation to hold it- you can’t build on your fitness without endurance that comes with lower intensity training. Fitness or weight loss plateaus and even illness occur when bodies get tired. So to say that interval training is the end all be all is short-sighted.
What this article, and so many like it, should have said that is that it takes a combination of BOTH interval training and lower, slower longer aerobic exercise to create a well-rounded fitness regime. The other problem is that most people don’t do interval training hard enough or the fat burning workouts easy enough to get the full benefit- they’re stuck in what we call the “mushy middle” in coaching circles. That’s where testing is so beneficial.
That makes sense to me. I know that some of you might have more questions or concerns so please let me know what they are. I will see if Anne would answer them all.
So Anne wants me to do high intensity interval cardio 2 days a week for and I can do them on the same days that I lift weights. Then she wants me to do low intensity, fat-burning cardio 3 days a week. I have no problems doing this schedule because I am doing this already. Here is where it gets tricky. She wants me to go an hour or more during the low-intensity cardio and keep my heart rate at or below 129 beats per minute (my anaerobic threshold.) That is tough! My warm ups usually get my heart rate in the 130’s.
This is a great time to once again talk about the importance of heart rate training. Using a good heart rate monitor, like a Polar FT7 or another product with a chest strap, is an invaluable tool when losing weight or improving your fitness. How would I know where my heart rate was if I was without my trusty FT60!
Like I said before, I am going to give this new routine 12 weeks and then go back and redo all of the fitness tests again and also monitor my weight and other measurements in the meantime. I am hoping that in 3 months we will see some marked improvements in weight, body composition and possibly even fitness level.
The next post in this series with be the results of the DEXA body composition scan. Can you stand the wait (weight)?
Peace, love, Megatron.
I hope that you guys find this information as interesting as I do.
Questions, comments, concerns?
Leave them in the comments section below.