By: Eric Reiher, Head of Algorithms and Triathlete
Why your fast workouts aren’t burning, and why you should target your VT instead.
Whether it's for the coworker’s birthday cake calling your name in the office today, the planned cocktail hour with your girlfriends later this week or simply wanting to get back into those skinny jeans you wore in college, one thing’s for sure--you run with the notion that you’ll burn more fat. Sure, running reaps other benefits like giving you one-on-one exercise time with your pup or clearing your head at the end of a long day. But chances are, if your running routine isn’t torching the fat, you’re probably not too happy about it.
Your Fast Workouts Are Unsustainable
People flock to the fads of High-Intensity Interval Training, or “HIIT,” as a popular way to increase fat burn over short periods of time. These workouts consist of sprint work or other high-intensity cardio in short spurts, seeming like the perfect go-to option to torch some fat then get on with your day. While this exercise may burn more calories per hour, it is extremely unsustainable and can lead to injury due to the high level of impact on your body. Quickly becoming too tiring to maintain over long periods of time, this calorie burn is also eradicated because chances are you won’t make it a full hour. While we acknowledge that integrating 20 percent of high-intensity work can optimize your performance, training at a slower pace for the other 80 percent is the key to sustainable fat burn.
Your Fast Workouts Burn Sugar, Not Fat
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wow, I’d really love to burn some sugar in my run today.” Probably not, because you’re educated enough to know that while sugar isn’t great for you, fat is what’s keeping you from dropping the lbs.
When you increase your exercise intensity above your Ventilatory Threshold (VT), the point between your Endurance and Peak zones, your body cannot burn fast enough to keep up with the energy demand. Although it naturally strives to use fat cells for energy, it is forced to tap into its sugar reserves and the fat you think you’re burning is left sitting in the same spot it was pre-workout.
When exercising at too high of an intensity, like sprint work, your body will burn sugar not fat. But exercising at too low of an intensity, like walking, doesn’t take enough energy to burn fat either. With perhaps the most important factor to determine the rate of fat burn during exercise being intensity, the inevitable question becomes, “At which exact intensity will I burn the most fat?”
Your VT is the Optimal Place to Burn Fat
The figure below represents the correlation between exercise intensity and fat burn. The grey area represents your fat burning zone, with an intensity of 0.6 grams per minute and occurring around an average of 73 percent of maximum heart rate.
In a study from the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, the optimal fat burning point corresponds to the runner’s Ventilatory Threshold (VT), which would lie within this “Fat Zone” grey area. Instead of taking average heart rate to determine an approximation for optimal fat burn intensity, your VT takes into account large variations in heart rate between individuals. If you only use heart rate to calculate your Fat Zone, you are likely to be off by more than 10 percent (or 0.3 grams per minute in terms of fat oxidation). Individual variation in heart rate and V02max is huge, which is why it’s been reserved for expensive lab equipment…until now. Tests that used to be reserved for expensive lab equipment can now be found in your OMbra.
OMsignal is the first to combine heart rate and breathing to pinpoint your precise and personalized VT levels. With embedded technology allowing us to automatically calculate your optimal, personalized intensity zones for training, your OMbra will guide you to train below your VT to ensure maximum fat burn.
It’s time to start pushing the duration, not the pace.