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Why Bootcamps Don't Work for Fat Loss

Why Bootcamps Don't Work for Fat Loss


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Take home message: Boot camp workouts focus only around cardiovascular training! Cardio is NOT bad, it has many health benefits, but too much cardio is counter-productive when a goal of weight loss and fat loss are in mind!

Have you ever been to a boot camp session? Do you know what boot camp even is? Well, right now it is a growing trend because, one, it is affordable. Two, you can go with all your friends and try holding each other accountable and three, there is usually one or two people leading the boot camp, so you can slack a little bit! (NOT a good thing!) However, what you are not being assisted with in boot camps is efficient resistance training and nutrition! Which are the two main components in weight loss and muscle tone!

Boot camps stress on cardio, yes cardio is a great thing, but in order to maintain your goals of weight loss and definition you HAVE to eat right and lift weights! Lifting a 5-8lb dumbbell in your boot camp is not sufficient enough, and the amount of repetitions you are doing are too high in order to stress the muscle enough so it can grow, which is the point in lifting weights. More muscle = increased metabolism = fat loss! When you follow lifting weights by cardio, like in boot camp workouts you eventually enter an aerobic state, which burns up your glycogen (carbohydrate) stores! Once those are used up your body relies on easily accessible protein to use as fuel!! This is BAD! This is called catabolism, almost as bad as cannibalism! Because your body starts eating up your own muscle for energy!

Will you lose weight doing boot camps? Yes, but it isn't just fat, you are burning fat and muscle and you will very quickly reach a plateau! Boot camps aren't all BAD, in addition to a weight training regime and a great nutritional plan!

MORE on WHY TOO much cardio is bad??
In the "Abs Diet," by David Zinczenko, he explains this perfectly!

He studied researchers who compared cardiovascular training to weight training and which brought about the best caloric burn, most people say cardiovascular, which is true, while you are actually engaged in the activity, but when you stop what happens, Zinczenko goes on to say...."It turns out that while lifters didn't burn as many calories during their workouts as the folks who ran or biked, they burned far more calories over the course of the next several hours. This phenomenon is known as the afterburn- the additional calories your body burns off in the hours and days after a workout. When researchers looked at the metabolic increases after exercise, they found that the increased metabolic effect of cardio only lasted about 30 to 60 minutes. The effect of weight training lasted as long as 48 hours."(Zinczenko, 46) Why is this? When you workout you create micro tears in your muscle fibers, while your body is repairing itself it's metabolic processes are sped up and this can last up until your next workout even! That is pretty remarkable research!

Another thing to remember is this, each pound of muscle can burn up to 50 calories a day at rest and a pound of fat can ONLY burn up to 12 calories a day at rest!

Jessica Jordan
B.S. Kinesiology: Exercise Science

Author: Jessica Jordan

Member Comments

Great article, Jessica! I've tried explaining that to friends. Some people refuse to listen...they'll get it eventually!

Thank you for the information! I have been in boot camp since February and just competed in my first figure comp. I didn't come in as lean or tight as I wanted even with lifting weights 4 days as well as boot camp. Now I'm wanting to build muscle for another show and have to decide whether to give up boot camp or not.

Great article...good to remember this!

I like your article, but have to disagree slightly. I was enrolled in a boot camp that had a different theme every month. Some months were endurance, some were strength, power, etc. So it was not as focused on cardio. However, I completely agree with the type you are talking about!! Also, important to not do it as every workout

Hello. I'm fairly new to this site and have seen this article several times, but just decided to read. I have always struggled with this. When I first started training for figure (last year, then had to stop), a figure champ advised to stay away from boot-camp style classes (some don't use the word/term)because of the same reasons you basically outlined in a simplistic way. I love these kinds of classes, however, I also know since I've been lifting heavier weights, I've seen the fat loss move quicker and (for lack of a better word) "feel" the burn for a couple of days after lifting as opposed to a few hours after a boot-camp style class (which includes programs like Insanity--which does body weight exercises, but mainly ALOT of cardio).

There is one thing that you stated that I didn't quite understand--if you wouldn't mind clarifying. Here's the statement:

"Lifting a 5-8lb dumbbell in your boot camp is not sufficient enough, and the amount of repetitions you are doing are too high in order to stress the muscle enough so it can grow, which is the point in lifting weights."

I understand the first part about lifting 5-8 lbs isn't enough, but lifting many can that be bad if you're going to fatigue and lifting heavy?

I'm not saying I do that at every workout. On some of my workouts, my last set on one exercise usually has me going to failure.

The other sets are increased weights.

Hope that makes sense. Just a little confused on the second part of the statement. Thanks for a nice article. I guess like the first comment, I need to ween away from boot camp style classes, too!


@JCSmitty2 - If you are lifting heavy, then you can't do too many reps, I am talking about reps higher than 15 are just too many. For building muscle you should keep the weight heavy enough so that you can only get about 10-12 reps.15+ reps are more more stripping down muscle or more high intensity type of workouts, which is fine, just not all the time. For example, I train my lower body with higher reps and lower weight because I do not need to add muscle to my lower body. My upper body I train higher weight and lower reps because I am trying to gain a little more muscle there. Does that make sense?

Hello Jessica. Yes, this makes perfect sense! Thanks for clarifying. Will remember this. :-)

Thanks, JJ! This information is awesome! Learned so much from this article! I'm huge! I am one of those guys who walks around at a casual pace at my gym. I am glad to know what I am doing helps me to burn fat! Gotta start lifting the weights though. Just trying to burn the fat and tone up at the same time, as well with goals in the future to compete to help me to stick with it.

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