9Round Fitness Blog

9Round Breakdown : Blasting Fat & Building Muscle

Written by Jen Jones, Aug. 5, 2018

Sometimes we just need to know how things work in order to really understand what is required of us to get the results we desire.  In order to pass an Algebra test, you need to understand formulas and equations in order to solve problems. Working toward fitness goals is really no different. Your trainer can tell you exactly what you need to do and when to do it – but sometimes you need to understand WHY and HOW it works. Today, we’re breaking down a little bit of the science behind fat and muscles so that you can apply it to help you reach your fitness goals.

 

9Round Breakdown : Muscle

Everyone has two different types of muscle: type one (slow-twitch) fibers and type two (fast-twitch) fibers. Slow- twitch fibers control endurance. They're what you use for activities like running long distances and low-impact aerobic workouts. Fast-twitch fibers are used for shorter, explosive movements like squat jumps or sprints. They fatigue more quickly and require more recovery time. While type one fibers remain about the same size even after you tone, type twos get larger as they get stronger, so working them is key if you want muscle definition. 

 

9Round Breakdown : Fat(s)

Fat is a little more complicated. You have white fat, which includes subcutaneous and visceral kinds, and brown fat. Subcutaneous fat is the pinchable stuff around your hips, butt, belly, and thighs that gives you curves. But it’s more than that, it is your largest energy reserve. It also helps regulate body temperature and cushions your internal organs. This type of fat is so essential that your body is wired to hang onto it, which can make it tough to lose (but it can be done!)

Visceral fat hides out under the white fat in your midsection. Its purpose is to protect organs like your liver and intestines. But too much visceral fat increases inflammation, raising your risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. 

Finally, there's brown fat—the kind you actually want more of. Yes, we said it…more brown fat! Brown fat burns calories instead of storing them. Exercise may help the body make more brown fat by producing a hormone called irisin, which activates it, according to research published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism. And vigorous workouts may even prompt white fat to temporarily turn into a type of brown fat known as beige fat, which also burns calories. Like we said, fats are complicated, but stay with us…

 

9Round Breakdown : Muscle-Fat Connection

Like a car engine, your muscles need fuel to move. In fact, the majority of the energy you use during the day is for powering your muscles, which have hundreds of essential purposes besides helping you crush it in the gym, like keeping your heart pumping and maintaining your balance. One of the best sources of that energy is fat. It contains 9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates, another top fuel source, contain just 4 calories.

But your body is like a hybrid car, in that it picks and chooses its energy source, based on the type of activity you’re engaged in. You tap fat for energy when you do low-intensity activities like typing on your computer or going for a walk, but as you increase physical intensity and your muscles start demanding fuel faster, your body switches to burning carbs, which are quicker to break down into energy.

 

So what can you do to get your body to burn maximum amounts of fat? Here are a few simple tips to help you get more from your workout:

Get moving early.You can blast up to 20 percent more body fat by exercising in the morning. Your body has less glycogen (a.k.a. energy) from carbs after fasting overnight, so it will have no choice but to turn to fat for fuel to get you through your workout. 

 

Sleep more. Aim for at least seven hours a night. Less than that keeps your levels of the stress hormone cortisol elevated, which may sabotage the results of your workout. Cortisol slows muscle growth and may even cause the body to hold onto fat. Stress is seen as a threat, so your body begins hoarding fat so it has energy stores, particularly in the abdomen. 

 

Crank up the intensity. You've heard of the "fat-burning zone," an exercise intensity of about 50 to 65 percent of your maximum heart rate, thought to be below the threshold where your body will start burning carbs. It turns out, though, that cranking up the intensity can lead to more fat loss in the end. By cranking up the intensity in order to burn as many calories as possible during your workout, your body will be forced to use fat to help your muscles recover after your workout has ended. That's how you get the biggest burn.