Saturday, February 2, 2008

Cutting Cardio: Shaving Off the Last Few Pounds of Fat

hey jean,
you know more about this than anyone i know, so maybe you can help me...
my bodyfat has been lingering around 9-11% for over a year now and i can't seem to drop it!

i've recently dropped my calories down to around 2600-2800 a day (about 15 kcals per pound of lean body mass). after a month i dont seem to losing i need to diet even more aggressively? i lift 4 times a week but only do cardio now and then.

do you know any good nutritional formulas that may help me?


Though a body fat of 9-11% is perfectly fine and healthy, I understand the drive to get it lower! In any case, the last thing I would do at this point is drop the Calorie level of the diet more. Over-restriction of energy results in metabolic decrease of about 10-15%, in my experience. If your aim is to reduce body fat, and your cardio is non-existent, the next step is to implement just a little interval cadrio work.

Maintaining a body fat of 10% without cardio is difficult. With sustained attention to diet, adding three to four intense 25-minute interval cardio sessions per week will result in a significant fat drop. Both the hill and regular interval workouts on the elliptical, treadmill or stairmill are good choices.

I am not suggesting long, slow "fat-burn" cardio session because 1) They are boring and time-consuming; and more importantly 2) they promote the development of Type 1 muscle fibers. When type 1 fibers are stimulated, the fibers become smaller and more efficient at using energy, meaning that more of the familiar repetitive motion can be done with less energy/food intake. Over time, you will promote a physique of smaller muscle that burn fewer calories to complete a long, slow cardio session. This adaptation is beneficial if you are an ultra-endurance runner, but completely counter-productive if you are hoping to be large and lean!

The interval portion should be between 30 seconds and two minutes (vary it) and the intensity should be very high (85-100%) during the interval portion and total recovery when you are sprinting. This approach promotes the development of explosive type 2X muscle fibers (promote the lean muscular look of sprinters) and results in an "after-burn" effect once the cardio session has finished. This effect causes an increase in metabolism that takes place when someone is not actively crankin' away in the gym.

This painstaking, but effective, method should allow a cardio-a-phobe to drop a few more BF% points within two to three months.

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