There Is No Fat-Burning Zone: Low-Intensity Cardio Can Actually Make You Gain Fat

featured How to Run Hills in Flat State Hansons Marathon Method HMMWhat’s the most effective method for burning up that spare tire?

Cardio workouts.

That’s right—going for a run will actually do more to burn off abdominal fat than banging out 500 crunches.

While the core exercises found in my Core Envy program will likely get your heart rate higher than the core work you’ve been doing, the calories burned during a sculpting routine are not enough; the cardio workouts I’ve put together for you will pick up the slack in the calorie-burning department and ensure that your hard-earned core muscles aren’t hiding under a stubborn layer of fat. By incorporat­ing a mix of cardio workouts into your program, you’ll achieve the perfect combina­tion of fat burning and muscle sculpting!

One of the most deep-seated and fiercely argued tenets of cardio work is that in order to burn fat, you should always be working in the “fat-burning zone.” If you’ve ever been on a cardio machine at a health club, you’ve seen those nifty little guides that relay the supposed effects of different heart rate zones. With words such as “Maximum Fat Burn Zone” plastered all over lower heart rates, it’s no wonder that we’ve all been seduced into thinking that the only way to burn that stubborn fat off is to keep our heart rates low and steady. This is why many of us insist on setting the treadmill at a brisk walking pace and staying on it for as long as possible. Heaven forbid we get our heart rates too high and enter the “Danger Zone”!

The concept of the “fat-burning zone” is based on the premise that your body burns a greater percentage of calories from fat when it’s working at lower heart rates. If we consider this concept alone, you might choose the low-intensity workout. To com­plete a 30-minute workout at a low inten­sity, a 130-pound woman can get 50 percent of the energy she needs from fat. If she were instead to do a high-intensity workout for 30 minutes, just 40 percent of the calories burned would come from fat.

Core Envy by Allison Westfahl CNVBut take a closer look and you will see that the high-intensity workout actu­ally burns more total fat calories—12 per­cent more. The bottom line? For the same amount of time (in this case 30 minutes), you burn more total calories, and you burn more total fat calories during a high-inten­sity workout than during a low-intensity workout. Don’t get caught up in the per­centage of total calories that come from fat. You need to burn more calories, and more calories from fat, and the scientifically proven way to accomplish this is through high-intensity interval workouts, not “low and slow” workouts.

Still not convinced? Maybe this fact will get your attention: Consistently working out at a low intensity can actually train your body to store fat. You read that correctly. If you consistently perform low-intensity exercise (that is, at a low heart rate), your body will adapt by beginning to store fat so that it can complete the next bout of exer­cise more effectively. This scenario is called “metabolic efficiency,” and it’s the ultimate catch-22 of exercising.

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Allison Westfahl’s Core Envy will tone and sculpt your abs, back, stomach, and sides—and build a strong, sexy core you’ll love showing off. Her Core Envy program solves the problems other abs programs ignore with a three-part approach to slim down and tone up. You’ll clean up your diet, fire up your metabolism, and tighten up all the muscles of your core without a gym or equipment. In just three weeks, you’ll start seeing results.

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