Energy – part 2.

I talked a lot about what types of energy your body uses as you breathe, walk around and work out. You basically use the three types : carbohydrates, fat and protein in that order of preference.

I got quite a few questions about that from you all. The generic question I hear is "If I work out at a fast pace, do I burn more calories and get faster?"

Well - the wonderful answer to this question is "it depends!". So you know nothing more then you did before...but let me try and give you some insights.

First of all, looking at the first part of that question....there is of course a balance between burning calories and the pace you work out at. I covered that before - but you could be working out very fast, but not burn many calories still because the resistance of what you are doing is too low. Or because you do the same work-out day in day out and your body kind of goes to sleep, yawning "Oh yea, we'll just do this for 35 mins and then we are done. See ya later".  Apart from the fact that boredom is deadly for your mind, and makes it much more likely that you will quit your exercise routine altogether, it's just no good for your body either. It literally gets used to having you do the same thing every time and knows exactly what it needs to do/produce in terms of energy... and therefore, it will not produce the results you would see if you mix things up, change your pace, do intervals, or different types of exercises. Hence my endless quest for challenging, fun and different types of exercises and cardio sessions.

Then about the second part of the question - getting faster. To get faster you need to do two things - firstly, you need to train your body to push how much it can do with the carbohydrates you have available. You need to make your body use that carbohydrate store you have over a longer period of time. And you can only do that by training in that zone and extending your time period over months of hard work. If you only ever do 30 mins. of cardio, you will always happily use the available carbohydrates, and you can work at an increasing pace. But you also need to work on extending yor time - stretch the limit to 90 mins and beyond.

And the second part is that you need to work on your lung capacity. Oxygen is crucial for those muscles and you need to also teach your body to use that as efficiently as possible. You know the feeling of running out of breath? Well, if you train your lungs to inhale more and your cardiovascular system to transport oxygen more efficiently - then that out of breath feeling will not hit you as quickly. But let me go into that in the next few days instead of here...

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  1. Marion,
    Read this article which may help with my plateau. I have been pushing myself to ride the bike to work during the Tour de France. It takes about 40 minutes. Although I feel better, it is easier, I am getting faster, I have not lost any weight. Actually gained. Your assessment that you will quit if you get bored is true. I also want to quit because this is the most I have done in years and I have ADDED pounds. Will work through the rest of your site. You may be my life preserver.

  2. Dear Tammie,
    I am really pleased to read your comment and of course, glad to be of help! It is hard sometimes, with so much info out there, to know what works and what does not. Believe me, it has taken me many many years to figure it out :-) With regards to your comment though – it is not so strange that you have gained some weight. Even if you are careful not to eat more because you might be hungrier then you were before starting to use the bike – your leg muscles will have probably increased in size with all the activity. These are the biggest muscles in your entire body and as they grow, you will start burning more calories even when you are not moving…but before you get to that phase, they will just add more weight. However, on the positive side, you should see a decrease in your body fat percentage. You can measure it, or just go by what you observe in the mirror to some degree (although it’s hard to be objective about your own image!). Have it measured by someone who knows what they are doing though. In fact – I’ll write a blog about this! :-)
    In the meantime, add some short fast intervals to your bikeride, just maybe going the distance between three lampposts at full blast, and then easing back. Or if you have some hills in your ride, get out of the saddle and pound uphill before cruising back down the other side. It’ll add some fun, relinquish the boredom and help you get leaner!

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