The Pitfalls of Jogging – replace it with sprint/interval training

Last week I wanted to burst a few bubbles and get readers to critically assess the logic behind their fat loss endeavours, specifically jogging. Understanding the science and the impact that any type of exercise has on your body is crucial to reaching your desired goals.

I am a huge advocate of sprint/interval training. The benefits far outweigh the hard work you invest. Sprint training is a series of short bursts of energy followed by brief periods of recovery. Sprints can be done on grass, in the pool, on a stationary bike or a treadmill. All you need is a little bit of space. Equipment is not necessary. The options are endless as are the benefits. You just have to get out and do it.

For the jogger who has been performing long slow tedious runs, sprints will save you a lot of time. An effective sprinting session can be completed in as little as 15 minutes plus a brief two minute warm up and cool down. You might ask, “How am I going to burn as many fat calories in such a short span of time?” The secret is in the intensity. Logic would suggest that the harder you work, the greater the benefits.  And this is all true. The catch is that it is not the calories that you are burning while you are performing the exercise that count. A typical 15 minute sprint session on a treadmill may burn as few as 150 calories, but the metabolic benefits will last for the next 24 to 48 hours and your metabolism will be on fire for the following 2 to 3 hours upon completion. This is referred to as EPOC or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. It is the additional calories your body will burn after the exercise session is completed in order to return your body to the state it was in before the exercise took place. So the harder you work, the greater the benefits you will reap over the long haul.

Regardless of what process we are undergoing, our bodies are hardwired to return themselves to homeostasis (balance). In any process our body undergoes whether it be digestion, breathing or muscle repair, our bodies require energy in the form of calories to recover and repair itself. Therefore the greater the stress, the greater the metabolic benefits of the activity and the longer it will take your body to return itself back to the balance it wants. The added benefit of training harder is the potential to build new muscle. Short intense efforts call upon your fast twitch muscle fibres to get the job done. These muscle fibres are highly susceptible to fatigue, but they have the greatest potential for hypertrophy (muscle growth). A great example of this can be seen when observing the physiques of a competitive marathon runner and a competitive sprinter. Sprinters carry less body fat than their long distance counterparts and have a lot more muscle. Sprinters tend to look a lot healthier too. In summation, sprinting offers the benefits of burning fat and building muscle simultaneously. Something that jogging cannot provide.

In Part 3, I will give you specific sprint/interval workouts that you can perform at the gym, in your home or outside, weather permitting.