Workout Harder, Not Longer

How much exercise should you be doing in order to effectively and (most important to many) efficiently, lose weight? The short answer, for those whose attention I have for about 3 more seconds, is 30-45 minutes 3-4 days a week.

Now, for those who have time for a broader explanation, I submit that the quality (intensity) of your work output and NOT the quantity (reps) of the work output is most important. In other words, the greater the demand you place upon a muscle group, the more “energy burn” you will get from it. This does not only mean for the time spent working out, but also post workout.

We have heard the formula of simply burning more calories than we take in. Fine, but the road to weight loss will be long and difficult unless you also determine your maximum heart rate. Ultimately, you should be working out around 75% of your max heart rate to achieve the most efficient burn rate.

“An acute bout of high-intensity exercise distributes blood away from the stomach and intestines due to the need for greater circulation of blood to the muscles, which may be a factor involved in appetite suppression. This does not occur with less demanding exercise,” explains David Stensel, Ph.D., a professor of exercise metabolism at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England, who has done numerous studies on the subject. “And the effect lasts for several hours—and possibly even days—after your workout.”

Another advantage to shorter more intense workouts is what is known as the “afterburner effect”, where your body continues to burn calories at a faster rate even when you’re not exercising anymore. Science shows that when you factor this into your work out, you are also suppressing the appetite hormone, ghrelin. This will make you less hungry following your workouts.

So, if your excuse about not working out is one of time, try to step up your intensity instead of trying to find 60 minutes. Even if you only have 10 minutes, high intensity workouts that increase your heartrate and exhaust your muscles is much better than waiting until “you have some time.”