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>Improve your Metabolism

Category : Exercise

>By: Ryan Jennings

I recently attended a fitness convention in Chicago to update my personal training skills and earn CEC’s (continuing education credits). One of the most cutting edge workshops I attended was entitled: “Metabolic Training: The New Cardio Program”. The course promised to help people identify one of their own metabolic markers and systematically use it to improve their metabolism. The training was presented by Fabio Comana, who teaches exercise science and nutrition at the University of California-San Diego and is also the exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

A Quick Review of Energy Sources
To understand metabolism you need to recognize that your body uses different sources of energy for different purposes. The two major sources of energy are fats and carbohydrates. Fats provide most of the energy your body needs at rest and during low intensity activity for respiration and circulation. Carbohydrates provide the majority of energy during higher intensity exercise to keep up with increasing demands of the muscles.

History of Cardio-Vascular Training.
Historically, cardio exercise has been dominated by two competing schools of thought: Low Intensity and High Intensity. Lower intensity exercise targeted ‘calorie quality’ by burning mostly calories from fat. High intensity exercise targeted ‘calorie quantity’ while ignoring the type of calories burned. Opting to burn fat meant lower total calorie burn and vice-versa. The promise of Comana’s work is that you can increase the amount of total calories burned while improving the quality of the calories burned.

Comana also expresses concern with any exercise program that uses ‘target heart rates’ based on standardized age formulas. Age is irrelevant to Comana because “Your metabolism is as unique as your fingerprint”.

Establishing a Metabolic Marker
So if we shouldn’t use standard age formulas to establish target heart rates for exercise intensity, what should we use? According to Comana, most people can benefit from establishing the ‘crossover point’ where the body transitions from burning mostly fats to mostly carbohydrates. This is the Ventilatory Threshold (VT1) and is unique to each individual and cannot be predicted by using age formulas.

Comana notes that the test for VT1 is straight forward and is commonly known as the ‘talk test’. You can establish it by slowly increasing your exercise intensity until speaking out loud just becomes uncomfortable. Ideally you will use a piece of cardio equipment and maintain any given intensity for at least 2 minutes before reciting something from memory out loud that is 20-30 seconds in length. Repeat this cycle until you find the point at which you are no longer sure it is still comfortable to speak. This is your VT1 or ‘crossover point’. Note: Be sure to consult with your physician before attempting this or any fitness test or beginning an exercise program.

Cardio Training Using VT1
Once you have established your personal ‘crossover point’, Comana recommends developing a cardio-vascular training program that gradually works just above and just below this metabolic marker. By doing this, exercisers can actually shift the crossover point and continue to burn mostly fat at higher intensities. This is exciting news for anyone who wants to improve their metabolism.

Do you want more information about improving your metabolism or VT1 testing? Contact us

Ryan Jennings is a certified personal trainer and co-owner of XO Fitness, LLC in De Pere.