Is Running Best For Weight Loss? (Part 2)

Hopefully you read last week’s Part 1.

This week we continue down the same road (pun intended) and address the same author’s article “Why I Love Shortcuts and Why They Don’t Work” as it relates long distance running and its alleged superiority to interval training.  In it the author argues that there are no shortcuts to weight loss or training.  I happen to agree with that.  Quick fixes are bullshit.  If it seems too good to be true it just may be.  This is not a rant against running specifically.  Just an argument for using the right tool for the job.

fuck thisFor the vast majority of people, training time, or in this case time dedicated to weight loss other than through diet, is finite meaning that training intelligently is of the utmost importance.  Highest bang for your buck you might say is a priority.  I believe through my own work, and there is certainly plenty of research out there to support this, that running for long periods of time, say longer than 5 minutes* (that was a joke, kinda) is not an efficient way to lose weight, especially without a change in diet, which is exactly the opposite of what the author is suggesting.  For some example to support this notion check HERE especially, but also HERE, and HERE.  At no time does the author suggest running further, which would consume more time, or running faster within a specific amount of time.  In other words, no planned progression.  This just happens to be a large problem with aerobic training.  Adaptation happens, and then what?  There needs to be a way to progress and make the exercise more inefficient to elicit change.  If the ultimate goal is simply to be a better runner and enjoy it, there is nothing wrong with that.  Just understand that there are smarter more efficient ways to train for weight loss.  Clearly the author is not familiar with short duration HIGH INTENSITY Airdyne bike intervals.

Airdyne

Another way to be efficient and progress is strength training.  The author quickly breezes over this stating that 7-Minute Workout will probably give you stronger quads, “if that turns you on.”  Personally I don’t think any of this is about turning anything on.  Just taking the most direct path towards the goal which includes strength.  Something most avid runners in my experience lack.  Again the goal here is not to be the best runner, just weight loss.

I do see where the author is coming from in regard to the 7 minute workout.  What’s next?  6 minutes and then so on?  There is obviously a point where you can get carried away as he jokingly tries to argue a 60-second workout.  And I’m not convinced that The 7-Minute Workout he’s specifically referring to, although appropriate in certain situations, is intense enough as a stand alone to elicit weight loss.  That however is for another day.  Anyone remember this?

Clearly the author is not familiar with doing short duration HIGH INTENSITY intervals on an Airdyne bike.

Airdyne

Ultimately it’s up to the coach and/or the person training to try and find the Minimal Effective Dose.  That’s your sweet spot.  More is not always better.  Just because the duration of something, such as running in this case, is longer does not mean it’s better.  Always consider this:
Performance Curve

Weight and Interval training done at a moderate to high intensity (generally speaking reps are low and/or speed is high) are superior to distance running for weight loss in regards to both results and time investment.  It’s not a short cut.  It’s just training intelligently to accomplish a specific goal.  I realize that I am a biased coach of strength and movement but the research shows it.  Not to mention that lost in all of this is that changing your eating habits is paramount to all of this other talk. That’s step one.  Strength and interval work come 2 and 3.

– Mike Baltren