Running to lose weight? Or to get lean?

It is a well known that the key to losing weight, is exercise. The easiest (and cheapest) form of exercise is running! Just go outside on New Years Day, and you will see lots of ‘overweight’ individuals plodding around your local streets after setting New Years resolutions to lose weight. Their first thought? to start running.

A beautiful remorse really. Thousands of years ago our sole intention of running was to chase down our next meal, and now the reason we run is to burn off our last. Running to lose weight is fairly straight forward; the more you run, the more weight you will lose. Simple as it may be, many people do go about it the wrong way.

First you need to figure out your main intentions: are you wanting to lose body mass? or are you running to become lean? Lets tackle the former first off. If you are running solely to make the scales a little happier, then consistency is key. If you haven’t had any previous experience of running, then you need to start off short and slow – 20 minutes as slow as possible – to avoid injury, and give yourself something to improve on. Say you do this, keep your runs like this, a couple times a week, until 20 minutes feel comfortable at a reasonable pace. This is basic for every first time runner, regardless of your aims. After this stage, to solely lose the pounds, the key is to UP THE DISTANCE, regardless of the pace. If you are an individual who can run 10k+ multiple times a week, you are definitely going to lose mass, and become a more efficient runner with a strong appreciation for the sport, and maybe most importantly: a peaceful mind. You may be reading this like i’m stating the obvious, but there is a rather large abundance of people who attempt to lose weight by running, but never run for longer than half an hour, which is not going to reap the maximum benefits that running has to offer. To summarize: run for longer to lose weight.

Now lets tackle the latter; running to become LEAN. Yes, there is quite a difference between running to lose weight, and running to lose body fat. Even though running for longer each time you run can help you lose body fat, it isn’t the most efficient method. The key, to use running to get lean, is to UP THE PACE. Running faster means increasing your heart rate, sweating more and inducing the formation of Lactic Acid in ones body, which all are key to burning body fat. Say you start running, and you have build a decent aerobic base, and you can run easily for 30 minutes at a time; if you want to burn body fat, keep running for 30 minutes, but set off with the aim to run at a faster pace each time. In addition, an untold secret within the running community – Hill sprints! Ever wondered why sprinters look like body builders? It isn’t just because of the time they spend in the gym, it is due to the raw intensity of their training, and how much they work uncomfortably in their anaerobic zone. Running up hills helps work your quadriceps even harder, which are the largest muscles in your body. Increase the rate of metabolism of the largest muscle group in the body, you increase the rate at which your body will degrade your fat stores.

I hope you have become aware of the clear difference in methods between running to lose weight, or to become lean. Any questions? Contact me.

Once a runner, always a runner.

14 thoughts on “Running to lose weight? Or to get lean?

  1. Started running some ten years ago, this year I will become 60. Length 177, weight 78, so oké. After a few years of running, I managed a pace of 6 min/km running 10-12km. No problem. Someone adviced me to check my heart rate: max 195, average 183. To high, he said! Take 220 minus your age as a max. That means 160 for me!! That makes it impossible for me to run! I feel comfortable with 6-6.30, so what to do?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your average heart rate can depend on how fit you are, if you have been running for 10 years your heart would be a lot stronger than most, so if you are running 6-6:30 comfortably then there is no reason to change it. Perhaps just shorten your runs at this pace, and if you want to run further run around 7:00 pace. Just be wary of it, if you start to struggle then thats your body telling you to slow down.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is great advice. I hate long distance running but I’m a great sprinter. So to your point to ‘running faster to get lean’ I totally agree .
    I always build lean muscles when I am consistent with my sprint drills. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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