High vs. Low Intensity: What’s Better?

High vs. Low Intensity:  What’s Better?
How much time do you have?


This is my second time writing on this topic.  The first time read more like a research paper, but since then I’ve sorted through study after study, which leads me to believe even more strongly in the relationship between high intensity training and fat burning. 
 
There’s no comparison between the effectiveness of high intensity and low intensity training relative to fat burning.  High intensity training trumps low to moderate intensity training like Argentina (and Messi) vs. the US men’s soccer team.  (Did I just say that?)  I’ll spare you the details and just speak directly to you about how you should approach your training if your goal is to burn fat.
 
I am about to bust the biggest cardio myth ever, and I’m going to do it in a single paragraph that makes sense to everyone.  Here goes:
 
While it's true that a higher percentage of fat is burned at a low to moderate intensity level of training (fat grams / total calories), because of the greater number of calories burned during a high intensity workout, the total fat grams burned at a high intensity level is greater.  Here’s what I mean: 
 
Two people of comparable body weight, body fat percentage, and fitness level go for a run that lasts the same amount of time.  Person 1 runs at 40% of their maximum heart rate and burns 400 calories.  Assume 70% of those calories is fat and 30% is carbohydrates.  Person 2 runs at 80% of their maximum heart rate, covers more distance in the same time period and burns 700 calories.  Assume 50% of those calories is fat and 50% is carbohydrates.  Based on this data, here is the calculation of fat grams burned, knowing that there is onegram of fat in every nine calories:

Person 1:  400 total calories burned.  70% of 400 = 280 fat calories.  280 / 9 = 31 fat grams.
Person 2:  700 total calories burned.  50% of 700 = 350 fat calories.  350 / 9 = 39 fat grams.  

See, because the number of calories burned during a high intensity workout is so much greater, the total number of grams of fat is greater too.  Also, please keep in mind these two individuals worked out for the same amount of time and were at the same body fat percentage and fitness level.  Remember that neither of them worked out at 100% of their maximum heart rate.  Over time, the additional fat grams you burn while working out at a high intensity really add up.  (In addition to burning more fat, there are other benefits to working out at a high intensity level, but that's a topic for another post.)

The hard part is to know what high intensity really looks like and feels like for you.  If you are new to high intensity training, it can take some time, guidance and getting used to.  It’s important to understand how to get yourself to a place that’s really considered high intensity.  Don't be afraid of working out at a high heart rate.  The more you do it, the more you'll grow accustomed to it.  

We can help you figure out what will work for you.  We want to help you.  Talk to us!