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Chasing the Calorie Burn


With the number of fitness trackers and heart rate monitors flooding the market, it is easy to become obsessed with how many calories you burn in a workout. And feel disappointed when we don’t hit a certain number after a 60-minute slog. However, it’s important to understand that exercise and particularly strength training is about far more than calorie burning.

When trying to lose weight the old adage of ‘eat less, exercise more’ has been ingrained into our minds and that’s not to say that this solution is not effective, of course the more you move, the more calories you burn – that is a scientific fact. But the effect of physical activity on human physiology is about much more than this.

Many people associate cardio with calorie burning but in reality, weight training can be just as effective if not more effective in helping people lose weight. Lifting weights helps to build lean muscle mass. One pound of muscle requires 6 – 10 calories per day to maintain, therefore put quite simply, having more muscle can increase a person’s metabolism and how many calories they burn.

That’s not to say that conditioning isn’t important, prolonged aerobic exercise and HIIT training have a vast number of associated benefits including improved endurance, improved cardiovascular conditioning, lower blood pressure, improved lung function and many more. Even more effective is combining both strength training and conditioning into your workout regime – much like our classes at ION.

There is also a place for heart rate monitors in aiding certain types of fitness – particularly in conditioning. As a facility, we use Myzone heartrate monitors which track how long you stay in your different heartrate zones: 50-59%, 60-69%, 70-79%, 80-89%, 90-100%. We also use a variety of workouts aimed at achieving different heartrate zones, so members know when they should be working at high intensity and when they should be at moderate intensity level. This is hugely beneficial for understanding and tracking the progress of our own individual fitness ability.

So, the somewhat provocative title of the article is more to make you realise that exercise has many benefits and that we shouldn’t get hung up on things like calories/numbers. Instead, we should enjoy it and the many varied associated benefits.

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