You finished your last endurance race of the season, so you devoured all the Christmas cookies. Some people put on just a few pounds for maintenance, while others go a little past healthy maintenance and really enjoy themselves. Whatever is done, is done.
Now it’s time to start thinking about getting back to your fighting weight. How will you approach the extra pounds you put on during the off-season?
You shouldn’t focus on your body composition when you are close to race day. Your mind should be on one thing: maximizing your performance. But there are other times in the training calendar that lend themselves to weight loss, particularly lower intensity periods.
Take advantage of low-intensity training blocks to get back on track after the off-season.
The traditional base period focuses on high volumes at lower intensities, with the primary goal of building endurance and improving your fat-burning abilities. Long, easy miles are the name of the game. With less emphasis on intensity or recovery, you can focus on fueling in ways that will optimize the fat-burning nature of these base periods.
Even in the midst of more intense training blocks, you will have days when intensity is not as high. You can take advantage of these lulls in your week by fueling well around your intense interval sessions, then dropping the calories on your easy days. When reducing calories, make sure you meet your protein needs so you continue to recover and improve.
Taking advantage of these windows of opportunity in your training is key to staying on-point next season. If you want to step it up a notch, try adding these next few things to the mix.
4 Ways to Get Back to Fighting Weight: 1. Fasted Morning Cardio
An oldie, but a goodie. Fasted morning cardio has been shown to boost fat oxidation during the workout by up to 20 percent. However, it does not do much for you throughout the rest of the day (there’s no after-burn effect). If you play it right and throw in intervals later in the day, you can snag all the benefits. Just make sure you eat properly and that these workouts make sense in your overall training plan.
How should fasted cardio look? Don’t go all type-A endurance athlete on me and overdo it. Thirty to sixty minutes of simple aerobic work will suffice. Make sure you are well hydrated and get a meal afterwards.
4 Ways to Get Back to Fighting Weight: 2. The Twelve-Hour Rule
The twelve-hour rule is nothing more than a break for your gut. Much like your heart, your gut is working hard most of the day to process everything you have to eat. Allow twelve hours between your last evening meal and breakfast to help your digestion catch up. This window also ensures a well-fasted state for your morning cardio. Does it have to be twelve hours? Not necessarily. It’s more about the habit.
4 Ways to Get Back to Fighting Weight: 3. Our Friend Caffeine
Caffeine not only boosts endurance performance, but studies have also shown a connection with increased weight loss. This is probably due to increased thermogenesis and fat oxidation. It’s worth adding caffeine to your fasted cardio, and let’s be honest – most of you drink a cup of coffee in the morning anyways.
Don’t be afraid to drink caffeine prior to other workouts. Its benefits are not limited to the morning. If the goal of a given workout is to build endurance and lose some weight, throw caffeine in the mix.
4 Ways to Get Back to Fighting Weight: 4. Eat Spicy and Get Cold
Want to further boost your metabolism? Get cold and eat foods that contain capsaicin. Both have been shown to increase the activity of your brown adipose tissue (BAT). Unlike normal white adipose tissue (WAT), BAT is metabolically active and can generate heat by burning the WAT typically found on our stomach, butt, hips, and legs. Keep it basic – just get outside and exercise in the cold weather a little bit. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Tackle Your Body Comp Early
As you plan your upcoming season, mix and match some of these concepts as you tackle your body composition. Get on top of it early and you will be able to focus more time on making performance gains. Here’s to your best season yet.
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