From the Desk of Dr. Len
Biggest Exercise Mistake
Dr. Len Lopez – Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Probably the biggest workout mistake I commonly see is performing aerobic training at too high an intensity. This triggers ‘anaerobic’ metabolism – not aerobic metabolism, which means your workout is stress producing on the body. Can your body handle that additional stress? Isn’t aerobic training supposed to be an easy workout?
The two biggest assumptions that are made in error are to think that as long as I do an aerobic exercise – it’s aerobic!
The other is to assume that as long as I train in that 65-85% of my maximum heart rate, I’m aerobic!
First off, only elite marathoners and triathletes can train at 80-85% of their maximum heart rate. What that means is that these well conditioned athletes can run, bike, and swim up to 80-85% of their maximum heart rate and still be triggering aerobic metabolism, meaning they are able to burn fat for energy!
Their aerobic system is that efficiently trained that they can run at about 80-85% of their maximum heart rate and still be burning fats for energy. So unless you are that elite athlete it would be smarter to perform your aerobic exercise around 65-75% of your maximum heart rate. Otherwise you are going to be burning carbohydrates and proteins (lean muscle) for energy, instead of fats, when performing your aerobic workout.
When you train (run, bike, swim, etc.) above Your Maximum heart rate threshold your body activates ‘Anaerobic’ metabolism. When you activate anaerobic metabolism your body is unable to burn fatsfor energy. This happens because the intensity of your workout is too high and as a result there isn’t enough oxygen available, which is needed to burn fat, and why it is termed anaerobic.
The big take away is that when you activate anaerobic metabolism it is Stress Producing on the body. Aerobic exercise that activates aerobic metabolism is low to moderate intensity. It is supposed to be Stress Reducing! But if you’re activating your ‘anaerobic’ metabolism – it’s a signal that it is stress producing on the body and you are producing additional cortisol and adrenaline.
The reason that’s important is that a lot of people with good intention try and divide their workouts up into aerobic, easy, light workouts and the more intense strength training routine. They may divide those two types of workout into particular days or amount of time in each activity. However, if your easy, aerobic workout is stress producing on the body – you could be over-stressing your body. Not giving it enough time to rest and recover, which is why so many people hit plateau’s and can’t figure out why their results haven’t changed. If that’s you, you might want to double check and make sure your aerobic workout is truly aerobic.
The biggest mistake is jogging, running, biking, swimming, etc at too fast or high a pace than their body is conditioned for. Most of my patients and clients have to slow down the pace of their aerobic workout!
Rule of thumb…After your aerobic workout, ask yourself, can you do the same, exact workout all over again, right this very minute without a problem? If you can, it was probably an aerobic workout – but if you say “are you kidding me, that aerobic workout torn me up” I doubt it was truly an aerobic workout. So don’t assume an activity or exercise that is commonly considered to be aerobic automatically triggers aerobic metabolism.
The name of the game is to be in your fat-burninz zone for the 23 hours of the day you aren’t exercising!