If you’ve ever decided to loose fat and have stepped on a treadmill, no doubt you would have selected the fat loss programme. A programme which tells you that working at a slower steady state (60% to 80% or your max heart rate) for longer periods of time is the way to go … but is it? Sprinters have incredibly low body fat and they work at maximum intensity, so does the fat burning zone even exist?

Firstly yes it does, and secondly you don’t want to be in it, and I’ll tell you why. The % of “fat calories” that you burn at lower intensity’s is indeed greater e.g. If you burnt 200 kcals on the treadmill, 50% would have been from burning fat. Awesome? No it isn’t. You don’t get any metabolism boosting benefits from working at a steady state, nor do you burn as many calories during recovery as you haven’t worked your muscles enough.

If you did a high intensity circuit, kettlebell swings, thrusters, battling ropes etc. with large compound movements, bench, squats, rows etc., the fat % of calories burnt drops, but your overall calorie expenditure increases. So you may burn 700 calories in that circuit, 40% from fat.

So you burn an extra 500 calories, 280 of which from fat stores, both higher that a long steady state workout. Finally you’ll also burn an additional 500 – 700 calories as your body recovers and repairs itself, which is why post exercise nutrition is so important, but that’s another topic.

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