Learn everything there Is to know about fItness, performance, fat loss and lifestyle from Adrian McDonnell.
Fitness watches have become a huge phenomenon nowadays. They can track your daily steps, analyse your sleep and estimate the number of calories you have burned each day. While I think having these watches are great – especially for keeping track of steps, how accurate are they for estimating the number of calories you have burned? And more importantly, should the number of calories you have burned dictate the quality of your session?
My short answer is no. Why? When it comes to strength training and lifting weights, the main benefits occur after you leave the weight room. Think about it, as you train you break down muscle fibres. It is after we leave the gym through recovering adequately that the growth occurs. Muscles are more metabolically active than fat. This means as you rest, recover and sit down, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn. And how do you build muscle? By lifting weights!
So don’t turn your strength session into a cardio session. If someone told you to do 10 Burpees, 20 Jumping Jacks and 30 Mountain Climbers for an hour, would you burn a lot of calories? Absolutely! Compare that to a traditional strength session where you’re lifting weights but taking adequate rest in between sets. Which session will you have burned more calories in? More than likely the first one. So does that make the first session better than the second one? Definitely not!
The after-burn affect
Think about the first session as driving from Tuam to Corofin. Your car engine has barely heated up before you turn it off again and it cools down. Your strength session on the other hand would be similar to driving from Dublin to Galway. Even after you turn the engine off – it still remains heated for a long period of time before fully cooling off. Now let’s apply that to the above two examples. Doing 10 Burpees, 20 Jumping Jacks and 30 Mountain Climbers might keep your heart rate elevated as you train, but very few benefits arise afterwards. In comparison, after your strength training session, the engine doesn’t automatically cool down. It takes your body time to get back to its baseline state and it is during this time that growth occurs.
So don’t sacrifice seeking an immediate feeling over your long term results. If you want to get a burn, light a match! Judge the quality of your session by your goals. Have you dropped bodyfat? Have you increased your strength? These are a much better indicators of an effective training program compared to have I burned 500 Kcals yet? This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t break a sweat during your session. But it does mean that if you don’t always break a sweat, it’s not necessarily a sign of a bad session.
So how Should I Monitor progress?
If your main goal is to drop bodyfat, get leaner and tone up, you could use a callipers to measure your bodyfat levels or simply take a before and after photo. Compare the before to the after and use that to assess your progress.
If increasing strength is your goal, pick 4-5 indicator exercises. Perform a strength test at the start and finish of your program and analyse your numbers. For example, if your bench press jumped 10Kg over a 12 week block, that is a great indicator that you have increased your strength. If your bench press remained the same over the 12 weeks but you burned 500 Kcals in every session, you may have sacrificed an immediate feeling over your long term goals. Which is more important?
Use your fitness watches as a tool to monitor your training. I always like to wear mine and I do find them beneficial – especially during conditioning circuits. However, don’t use the number of calories you have burned as the only metric to assessing your progress. Identify your goals at the start and make the goal the goal. Not the number of calories you have burned.
looking to drop bodyfat or increase strength?
With gyms not due to re-open for almost 12 weeks, a lot of progress can be made between now and then. That is why I'm looking for 5 young adults looking to get into a routine which will allows them to drop bodyfat, get toned and increase their strength. If this is you, please fill out your free consultation form here and I'll be in touch.
Adrian McDonnell -
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