Exercise! Love it or hate it, let's motivate each other to just DO IT!

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Old 06-07-2010, 01:37 AM   #1  
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Default high intensity cardio vs. lower intensity for longer = weight loss?

I have a question for all you people out there who've lost weight or inches with exercise.
I have been plateaued for a few months now at the same weight, give or take a pound. I count calories (recently upped, from 1200 a day to 1200 to 1600 a day) and am exercising more and more consistently than I ever have been before. And I'm not losing (and no, not inches either, jeans are still tight). I guess I do look firmer though, probably from the strength training.
My 3-5x a week routine has been:
30-35mins of high intensity cardio (and I don't mean HIIT, just that my heartrate is about 185-198 and I'm sweating, breathing heavy, and tired when I'm done) varying incline walking (4.0mph at 5, 10, and 15% inclines), running/walking intervals at 3.5mph and 6.5mph, and the precor machine at 6 incline, 6 resistance.
15-25mins of circuit training, usually doing legs and back one day, arms, shoulders, and chest the next... 3x a week.

My question is, would it be beneficial to up my cardio time (to say, 45mins), but decrease the intensity of the cardio to maybe 4.0mph, 5%, or walk 3.8mph/run 5.8mph? I would most likely have to decrease the intensity just because it is so hard for me now to complete a full 30-35mins at such a high bpm. I have been trying to figure out how I am not losing any weight and I was wondering if maybe my cardio time just isn't long enough...

Any advice would be sooo much appreciated!
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Old 06-07-2010, 01:59 AM   #2  
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I'm not sure about anyone else, but for my cardio I always just up the intensity. I've been doing 45 minutes on the elliptical since I can remember, but every few weeks (probably 2 weeks) I up the reisistance on my program and I keep the time the same. So right now for about another week I'll stay on my current program (45 minutes, Level 17 Random Hills) then I'll take it up to Level 18.

I know this probably isn't what you were looking for but that's how I increase my cardio routines.
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Old 06-07-2010, 02:32 AM   #3  
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I think it will vary depending on your goals and preferences. I mean, I know you want to lose weight with exercise.

But what's the fitness goal here? Being a faster runner? Being a stronger lifter? More flexibility?

Is there a workout time constraint like only having an hour for lunch, and then some of that has to be travel time?

All these factors will affect your approach and focus area.

Me? I want to see more muscle so I'm shifting my workouts in that direction. I still want to do some general cardio but walking/aerobics is enough to me for now. I'm not looking to change my speed or endurance.

Back when my goal was 5ks and half marathons thought, cardio was where I wanted gains and I didn't give strength training my focus. I still did it, but it was to maintain, not to gain muscle.

YKWIM?

A.
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Old 06-07-2010, 05:48 AM   #4  
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i'd say maybe mix it up a bit.

Maybe during the week try to include at least 1 longer session than normal at slightly lower intensity (and build up the length of this one gradually each week), and one interval session, and the rest stay with what you're doing. That then is similar to normal 'running' programs for distance training.

Or do whatever you feel most like doing, because that's what you'll enjoy more so you'll be more likely to follow it through.
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Old 06-07-2010, 10:04 AM   #5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopeful8 View Post
I'm not sure about anyone else, but for my cardio I always just up the intensity....I know this probably isn't what you were looking for but that's how I increase my cardio routines.


Blah... that is *exactly* what I didn't want to hear, but I'll do anything! I don't know that I could go much more intense, but I could try to crank it out 5 more mins this week and go from there...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ange82much View Post
i'd say maybe mix it up a bit.
Maybe during the week try to include at least 1 longer session than normal at slightly lower intensity (and build up the length of this one gradually each week), and one interval session, and the rest stay with what you're doing. That then is similar to normal 'running' programs for distance training.
Or do whatever you feel most like doing, because that's what you'll enjoy more so you'll be more likely to follow it through.


Thanks for the advice. I would have to say this is what I was planning on doing, getting in a 40min cardio session in addition to what I'm already doing. I don't really enjoy any cardio, per say, but I know that I have to do it to lose weight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by astrophe View Post
I think it will vary depending on your goals and preferences. I mean, I know you want to lose weight with exercise.

But what's the fitness goal here? Being a faster runner? Being a stronger lifter? More flexibility? YKWIM? A.


Hmmm... I haven't really thought about a fitness goal. I mean obviously I want to be healthy and have a healthy heart, but I guess as a 24 year old my goals would more be to gain muscle and be toned, and lose weight/fat, as my main fitness goals. I don't really need to be fast, or lift more, it's basically all to transform my body, and increase my everyday activity endurance. I heard that strength training is integral to this and also I enjoy it wayyyy more than cardio.

Thank you all so much for posting! I will bring your tips to the gym today!
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Old 06-07-2010, 10:17 AM   #6  
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There is debate out there about anaerobic exercise vs. aerobic exercise and fat burn. I personally don't feel like I get a workout if I keep my HR where it needs to be for aerobic exercise, so I do both. I get a good anaerobic workout in through running or Spin Cycle class and then I'll go do some light cardio for a longer period of time, usually on the elliptical. I have to remind myself to keep the HR low.
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Old 06-07-2010, 10:26 AM   #7  
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Have you tried doing HIIT (high intensity interval training)? or just full out intensity?

From what I've read though, it seems that both are important for overall fitness and health. I say mix it up.
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Old 06-07-2010, 10:34 AM   #8  
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I run outside maybe 2 or 3 times per week. I shoot for 4x a week, but never do that much. I run 3 to 4 miles per session and I run at a manageable pace of 10-11 minute miles. But I admit, it's not my favorite way to work out.

I also do a lot of lifestyle exercise that I do for fun. I walk or bike everywhere. And I go out dancing about 2 times a week. I do that kind of lifestyle exercise maybe 4-6 hours a week and it doesn't feel like exercise at all, just moving around.

So I sneak in my exercise, like you might sneak veggies into a sandwich to eat them. The point is for you to find what is enjoyable for you. Treadmill running can get awfully dull. Try adding a hike in the woods, a walk on the beach, or play with a puppy. Skip using your car for quick trips & turn on your favorite music on your mp3 player and go.

Have fun.

Last edited by motivated chickie; 06-07-2010 at 10:36 AM.
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Old 06-07-2010, 11:19 AM   #9  
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Mix it up. An occasional longer slower session will build endurance taht will allow you to bump up your harder sessions more quickly.

Doubles (2 sessions in one day) really up the burn as you get double afterburn

But for weight loss motivated chickie has a good point. What can you do the other 23 hours of the day to up your burn. Get up from the desk every hour and walk around the office. Switch from a chair to a ball to sit on. Fidget. Take the longer path.
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Old 06-07-2010, 04:40 PM   #10  
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Thanks everyone so much for your help. I feel I'm definitely active outside the gym (as active as a student can be), but its that necessary routine cardio in the gym that I feel is really keeping me from losing weight. I am definitely going to add an additional longer slower session in, along with some 30min swimming laps now that it's nice out .

I haven't tried HIIT because I don't think I could actually get to the High parts of it (already at a 15min/mile, 10% incline I'm at 185 bpm...) Also running makes me want to die. Jogging may be in the future though...
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Old 06-07-2010, 04:49 PM   #11  
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well with HIIT, you could just vary your pace, incline, etc. Even if it means backing off from your normal intensity for the low parts.
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Old 06-07-2010, 06:08 PM   #12  
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You keep referring to cardio as "necessary" for weight loss. Guess what? You dont HAVE TO train for fat loss. At all. Period. Diet is everything. if you really truly hate exercising, than hunker down on the food control portion. Drop your calories. be DILLIGENT about tracking EVERYTHING. Ive seen the tag-lin around here "you cant out-exercise a poor diet" Its so true. I cant promise youll love your body when you get to goal if you dont do strength training though. Remember, at the end of the day, fat loss is all about being in a caloric deficit. You can burn plenty of calories, more than enough, just by keeping your NEAT high (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). Or, if you really want to exercise, but hate it, then go for intervals, so you can get in and out quickly. Or just use walking for exercise.
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:51 AM   #13  
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Thank you for your responses, mkroyer. I understand that diet is everything... however for me, at 1200 calories of all veggies and lean meats, I wasn't losing... for months. I find that exercise has really helped my body to transform, as well as initiate weight loss efforts again. And I can up the calories to sustain my efforts... yay!. And I don't *hate* exercise... just the high intensity running/elliptical was really getting to me and making me wish I didn't have to go to the gym. I was happy to hear that I can add in some lower-intensity cardio and still get some weight loss and body toning benefits. And thankfully, I love strength training, because I agree, I'm already loving the changes it has done to my shape!
And nelie, I could definitely do that type of HIIT, and will probably try it this week, thanks!
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:26 AM   #14  
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I am all about low intensity. If I push myself as hard as I possibly can every minute of every time I exercise, I hate and dread the whole process. But I do 90 - 120 minutes of lo/moderate intensity cardio and 30-45 minutes of pilates/light lifting a day and I've found I can do that forever without ever coming up with excuses not to--I seriously miss less than an hour of that per month. When I am really busting my butt I dream of an injury just to get a break.

Anyway, with lots of low/moderate intensity I've lost 120 pounds while eating well--1500-1800 calories a day. My BP is down to 112/64, my cholesterol is 145, my resting heartrate is 60. I have tons of muscle. If you enjoy high intensity, it can be great (and is surely more efficient in terms of time), but you can improve you health and appearance just fine at a slower pace.
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:38 AM   #15  
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Lisa, may i may one quick point?
You say you were eating 1200 cals of all veggies and meat, and you werent losing....
As far as calories and its effect on body mass goes, only THREE possible combinations of things can happen, according to the laws of physics and thermodynamics....
1) You eat a surplus of calories (ie; more cals than your body burns) and you gain weight
2) you eat EXACTLY the number of calories that your body burns in a day, and you maintain weight
3) you eat LESS calories than your body burns in a day, and you lose weight

Thats its. Its as simple as that. No point in overcomplicating things!
If you were NOT losing weight on "1200" cals a day, then there are one of 2 possibilities-- 1) your body only burns 1200 a day, you were therefor in equilibrium, and would have to lower cals more, OR
2) you are underestimating the amount of calories you are eating, and actually ARE eating at a maintenance level...maybe 1500 or 1700 cals, or whatever. This is the more likely scenario. Even if you weigh and measure every bite, lick and tast, to the GRAM with a digital scale, calorie counts can still be off by a couple hundred a day....enough to bump you up to maintenance easily. By far, the vast VAST majority of humans under-estimate how much they eat everyday. And thats ok, if you are maintaing your weight, or still able to lose weight. BUT when weight loss stops, its time to hunker down and get really anal about your diet tracking.

After i go through fat loss and slip into maintenance mode, i get a slittle sloppy after a while, and just start eyeballing portions of foods that im used to eating all the time. No big deal, i dont really gain and fat-- assuming that im bumping my cals up by a hundred or two over what theywere. When i then go BACK to weigh and measure again, i find that instead of comsuming 1500 to 1600 a day, which is what my best guess estmiates were, i was ACTUALLY eating closer to 2000 a day. Once again, no big deal when i am maintaining, but thats a big difference when you are trying to lose weight. You CAN get fat off of broccolli,and Icant believe its not butter spray and splenda and handfuls of almonds out of the receptionist desks, because a calorie is a calorie, and it all adds up! People have a tendency to selectively forget about the small handful of m&ms they had, because hey, it was only like 6 of them. ANd you know what? i can cram a LOT of penut butter into that tablespoon (because it says a table spoon is a serving!) but when i actually measure what the weight is suposed to be (14 grams) i find that ive been able to cram over 2.5 servings of PB into that tablespoon! Thats an extra 250 cals that i wasnt counting Its so easy to eyeball and overestimate.We ALL do it.
I will get off my soap box now. I am in no way saying this is your problem, but i am just trying to point out that sometimes overcomplicating things like using different traiing strategies of intervals mixed with steady state to deplete glycogen stores, etc only makes things MORE complicated.
Remember to Keep it simple-- IF YOU ARENT LOSING FAT, YOU ARENT IN A CALORIC DEFICIT simple as that.

food for thought
Keep up the great work with the exercising!

Last edited by mkroyer; 06-08-2010 at 11:49 AM.
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