Fit or Fat?

Why is it that you are exercising? What is it you want to achieve?

Do you want to be fitter? Or do you want to lose body fat?

Do you know the difference between the two?

It’s important to be very clear on what you want from your training because the two are very different things.

And this is where most people become confused and their results are minimised despite their best efforts – particularly if they are wanting fat loss.

Before we go any further lets be clear on what each thing really is:

Training for Fitness; means you want to improve at something, therefore you want your body to become more efficient at the task in question. You want it to start to feel easier so you can go for longer

Training for Fat Loss; This type of training means you want to find it difficult. You do not want it to become easier or your body to become efficient at it, because then it’s not working as hard. To maximise fat loss potential you want the workout to be short sharp and tough

Fitness = Efficiency

Fat Loss = Inefficiency

Lets use running as an example.

When you first start running you are likely to be inefficient at it, it’s difficult. But the more you do it the better you get at it; the more efficient you become at it. You are fitter. So now you can run for longer and if you continue on this path you can keep improving your fitness and running further and further. The more you train the more efficient you become at it

Now in the beginning, when you were inefficient at it you probably lost a bit of weight right, but the more efficient you became; the fitter you got the less weight you lost right?

We all have a friend or know someone who is quite fit, but still overweight. I was once that person. The pictures below are after one year of fitness based training with 1 hour cardio sessions and 2-3 long runs a week.

This is because Fitness does not equal Fat Loss and the two should not be confused.

But what about the “fat burning zone” ? You’ve heard of that right? And it is a thing.

The fat burning zone is when your body is using fat for energy – this is the aerobic zone. Obviously the longer you stay in this zone the longer you are using fat for energy.

Sounds simple right? BUT there’s a catch

As soon as you are finished with your run, your body pretty much stops burning fat for energy.

The fat burning effect is only happening for the duration that you can do the actual activity.

Now lets talk about training for Fat Loss.

This requires a different approach to Fitness training. Studies have shown that short and intense cardio exercise produces the best fat burning results.

The thing is with this type of cardio is it doesn’t actually use fat for energy. Without getting to sciency this type of training relies on glucose for energy. And typically you won’t burn a lot of calories during this type of training. BUT what you will do, if you are working intensely enough is create what I like to call an “after burn”

It’s a thing called Excessive Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).

This is basically the amount of oxygen required to return your body to it’s normal resting metabolic state. It is during this time that your body will continue to burn more calories and it will utilise fat as it’s energy source. If you have worked hard enough your body can do this for 24-48hrs.

This is the magic of the workouts we run at Gym It. They are all designed to be short, sharp and intense to really take advantage of that “after burn” potential

I mean, I don’t know about you; but i’d much rather work hard for 30 mins and potentially burn fat for 1-2 days after then run for hours and hours and hours to use the same amount of fat. #aintnoonegottimeforthat

The picture below shows the difference after I switched from training for fitness to training for fat loss.

Disclaimer; I don’t just do HIIT – I also lift weights.

So back to the starting point – Are you training for Fitness or for Fat Loss?

Because your true goal will dictate the type of training you should be doing.

A comment that I hear alot when people are doing HIIT or Maxfit type sessions is – I can’t wait for it to get easier. But it never gets easier – you just work harder.


Fitness = Getting better and becoming more efficient

Fat Loss = Inefficiency and always finding it difficult.

Make sure you are clear on your intention when you are training.