Wednesday, January 28, 2009

IJA-Intensity Junkie Annonymous

I talked a lot about that in class this morning. I subbed for someone this morning and boy was it fun. Some people in the class knew me but many of them didn't have a clue who I was which, by the way, is pretty challenging as an instructor. They didn't know what to expect from me, I didn't know what to expect from them. Like most, they were probably there to get their intensity fix for the day/week and feel good about themselves. If you do know me, you know my thoughts on the "harder is better" mentality. Trust me, I've been there. I was a three sport athlete in school and was in the Army after college so I understand what it means to "work as hard as you can every time no matter what".

I think several of the members stopped by Starbucks this morning around 5:00am to get their daily double shot of espresso because they sure were chatty. That just told me that A) they had a lot of energy and wanted to kill themselves in class because that's what we do, or B) They just didn't know any better. So, uncharacteristically, I gave them their intensity fix.

Over the past few months, I've been trying to educate myself and class on the benefits of aerobic and anaerobic training and the different zones associated with that. That all went out the window this morning! Anyway, simply put, when you work in your aerobic zone, below 80% of max heart rate, you are training your body to use mostly fat as the primary source of fuel. When you cross over that 80-85% of your MHR, your body starts using primarily carbs, sugar, and eventually some stuff in your muscles as your primary source of fuel. Instant energy if you will. Do you burn calories at lower intensity? Absolutely! Do you burn Fat at High Intensities? Yes! But, like I said, the primary source of fuel at a lower intensity is primarily Fat.

Do you want to become a fat burning machine? Then you might have to have a shift in thinking. Are you an intensity junkie? Do you think that if you don't kill yourself in the gym then you are not getting a good workout? IMO, that mentality needs to be thrown out the window. There is something to be said for frequency too though. If you are only working out once a week, then by all means, it's probably safe to say that high intensity is OK. If you are working out 4-5 times a week as you should, then you have to STOP the addiction. Get off the intensity drug.

Stay tuned for a more about the tangible benefits of aerobic workouts. Not only do you train your body to become very efficient at burning fat, which lasts all day, there are other benefits. Disclaimer, there needs to be a balance in your workouts. I am not advocating that you abandon anaerobic workouts at ALL. And, you have to know what your are trying to accomplish, why you are working out. That's another topic. What are your goals?

Please give me your thoughts or questions. We are in this together. It's your class and your workouts, so please tell me what you think.


  1. Charles,

    I love the IJA... I may bring that up to my students in my classes. Haha.

    Sometimes it can be hard to preach to a choir that only wants to kill themselves, but I think eventually they all come around ;)

    And if they don't, then they leave haha.

  2. You are right Kala, especially when you are a sub for a class that doesn't really know you and your style of teaching. BTW, thanks for commenting! You are the first person to make a legit comment (I promted my friend when I first started) I haven't written since college so I'm a little rusty. It's just kinda fun putting my experiences and thoughts down on "digital" paper. Thanks for stopping by and congratulations on your certification.

  3. I had a wonderful conversation with Charles on this subject yesterday. I went home that night and created a cd for a test run with my class. I opened with a 3 song warm up then we proceeded into a 45 minute solid cllimb. We do not have heart rate monitors, so we are a little scientifically off, but what I can tell you I had my heart rate around 75% the entire class. Afterwards, I had so many compliments from my IJA class..they actually burned more caleries than our interval kill class, they did not feel completely wiped out, they felt they had hit a wall and stalled and this was exactly what they were needing. So I will start having most of my class follow this format.
    Thanks Charles and I do think this is right on!

  4. Awesome Katherine. There are soooo many other benefits to spending a great deal of time in your aerobic zone. I think I'll write a post on that one too. Also the key to proper recovery!