Personal Tips from Michael Bronco

Slow down to burn fat!
One of the most common mistakes that I have seen over the years is cardio work done at a heart rate above the fat burning zone. Typically, people that tend to overeat on carbs, or who “binge” eat fall into this category.

First of all, if you want to burn fat you have to teach your body how to do it. Eliminate carbs just before doing cardio and if possible, do your workout on an empty stomach first thing in the a.m. Warm up slowly and gradually increase your intensity until you feel yourself take a full breath. This is the top of the aerobic zone that you want to be in to burn fat. Higher than this and your body will want carbohydrate for energy.

I recommend thirty minutes to an hour at least three times per week. If you are a runner you may need to walk at specific intervals to keep the heart rate steady. You may even need to walk on ALL hills. Don’t allow your ego get in the way here! You’ll find that you can increase the amount of time that you can run in between walks as your fitness improves.

It is important to realize that your body will only do what you ask it to. If you want it to adapt to a fat burning system then you’ll have to train at the appropriate heart rate. Too high and you’ll not only force it to burn carbs, you’ll also create the need for more carbs to be consumed.

In the beginning you may feel a bit lethargic, but stick with it. Your body has to adjust to this new fuel system and it may take several weeks to feel the benefits.

Slow down to burn fat! Part II
I have been receiving a lot of questions regarding the intervals vs. “fat burning” debate so here is my attempt at clearing this up.

First of all, the high intensity, intervals gang suggests that it is more important to burn “more total calories,” including more total fat than simply a higher percentage of fat during a workout. In other words, if you burn 1000 cals. doing intervals, 250cals. might be from fat (25%). If you burn let’s say only 400 doing slower aerobic type exercise, even though the percentage of fat burned is higher, let’s say 50% - you’ll only burn 200 fat calories. Good enough.

My question is: why is it so important to burn as many calories as possible? The answer of course is that our industry is like the rest of society. We don’t want to look at the real problems, which in this case is our diets!

Doing a spin class or doing mind numbing intervals on a treadmill as a solution to last nights pizza and six pack is not only unhealthy, but quite frankly is a huge waste of time and energy. Shouldn’t we be focused on finding healthy activities that we enjoy rather than “training” to eat?!

One of the first things I learned in this business is that we should look for life long activities. These are activities that encourage healthy habits, don’t lead to injuries and can be done well into the upper ages of life. Intervals don’t fit here.

Truthfully, we should be able to maintain a healthy weight without “training” at all. Being active is the key.

Now, having said all that, there is a time and a place for everything. Including some sort of interval training. Particularly if you are training for a high intensity sport. The time and the place is the key here. I see too many people (including fitness experts – so called fitness experts anyway) doing intervals as a way to lean out and achieve the ultimate physique. This is one of the more ridiculous cycles of dysfunctional fitness that I have seen in years. Basically, it is training to eat, as I mentioned earlier. If that’s how you choose to live your life, then go for it. Until you get burned out or injured or course.

My suggestion is to work on the diet first. Keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day by eating good quality proteins, veggies and fresh fruits. Keep the starches limited to whole grains (not whole grain bread) real grains like oats and brown rice. Eliminate sugar and limit alcohol and caffeine. Then find activities that you really enjoy and have FUN doing.

Just for the record, I maintain my current weight of 165 by light jogging, weight training and surfing. I will have my diet posted shortly so check back in with the site.

Then, in addition to weight training find activities that you can do at a steady heart rate for up to an hour at a time. Walking is still number 1 (don’t let anyone tell you differently). When you no longer see improvement in your fitness, it may be time to spice it up a bit by doing some “surges.” This is different than structured intervals in that it is more intuitive. You pick a telephone pole and sprint to it if you have been running, or jog to it if you are a walker. Simply picking up the pace on a hill works great here. Then you back off and hit it again when you feel like it.

Unless you are training for the Olympics, why subject yourself to a stop watch?! And please get rid of the heart rate monitor! Learn to listen to your body.

You need to ask yourself one simple question: Am I doing this to lose weight or because I really enjoy it? Listen to your answer.

Good luck with this and for your overall health and well being – PLEASE HAVE FUN!

Keep it Simple
Keep your workouts simple and easy to follow. Consistency is the key to getting results, not complexity. Some of the best routines that I have designed over the years, have involved little to no equipment at all - and very little time.