Go hard or go home? Not so fast, says Club Julian personal trainer Mike Salamon, especially if your primary goal is weight loss. Check out what the veteran marathoner and longtime CJ trainer has to say about the benefits of varying your cardiovascular workout intensity to meet your goals in this edition of Channel J.

If you do cardiovascular exercise less intensely, will it burn more fat? The answer is both yes and no.

“If you exercise less intensely, that is, if you exercise at a lower percentage of your maximum heart rate (or lower percentage of VO2max for all those physiology nerds out there), a HIGHER PERCENTAGE of the calories that you burn will come from FAT.

On the other hand, when you exercise more intensely, a lower percentage of those calories will come from fat, but you will also BURN MORE CALORIES OVERALL. So even if there is a lower percentage from fat, with more calories burned overall the amount of fat you’re actually burning could be the same or actually possibly higher, especially if you take into account what is known as EPOC, that is Excess Post-exercise Oxygen- Consumption.

Without getting too technical, think about EPOC being equivalent to the exhaust fan turning on after you turn your car off after a long drive on a hot day. It is the afterburn and it requires calories. This effect is higher if you are more intense in your exercise and have some periods that are more ANAEROBIC meaning WITHOUT OXYGEN. The less intense the exercise is, the more AEROBIC it will be.

So really it depends on what your goals are, but if you are healthy, a good mix of both is ideal.

Runners for example need to do slower and less intense runs often, probably more often than most of us. Besides recovery and less wear and tear on the joints, the slower runs help the body to perfect using fat as the main source of energy during the run.

Also keep in mind that this higher intensity training may not be right for those who have medical issues such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and other related conditions. For these individuals, for the most part, low intensity exercise is probably ideal and the focus should be more on the amount of time performing the exercise. But if a physician gives permission, remember it is possible to do toned down versions of this change of intensity. For example, a slower walk for two minutes and a faster walk for one minute or mixing up speed intervals for a lower impact activity such as the bike or water exercise. Still this population probably shouldn’t push to the point where they become out of breath during exercise.”

Want to learn more? Then set up your training appointment today by calling (412) 366-1931. It’s FREE as part of your membership. Club Julian 24-Hour Fitness – “Changing the Way You See Fit.”