Why Fitness Bootcamp works so well for Fat Loss.
Bootcamp workouts have been a hot fitness trend since at least 2009, and it’s easy to see why: The intense, fast-paced training sessions are an effective (and fun) way to torch fat and build muscle.
Class-goers push themselves with the help of an enthusiastic instructor and a group of fellow trainees, who often form strong friendships while achieving some impressive body transformations. (Essentially, if learning how to lose stomach fat is your goal, bootcamp workouts might be right up your alley.)
Bootcamp’s Better Body Method: Why HIIT is IT for Fat Loss
A big reason why Bootcamp classes shed flab and carve out more defined muscles is that most employ High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT. During a HIIT workout, trainees alternate between hard work (like pushups, burpees or sprints at a close-to-all-out effort) and bouts of recovery.
Bootcamps goal is to shock the body. People come to class expecting the unexpected. We never rest too long. We never do one exercise for too long.
Numerous studies show that HIIT workouts are far more efficient at burning fat than traditional cardio — in fact, Canadian researchers compared HIIT to endurance training and found that the reduction in body fat from HIIT was nine times greater.
The mechanisms that make this increased burn possible aren’t fully understood, but a team at the University of New South Wales in Australia attempted to identify some of the factors at play in a 2010 review of more than 60 HIIT studies. They identified three:
- HIIT has a significant effect on hormones that help break down fat. A study that examined the blood profiles of 12 men who completed a sequence of sprints on the rowing machine found that the workouts led to an increase in their levels of epinephrine, a hormone that can trigger lipolysis — the process in which lipids, or fats, are broken down within the body.
- HIIT also spikes muscle-building hormones. Researchers observed that the levels of growth hormone (GH) in trained athletes reached 10 times their basal levels following a sprint workout—and stayed that high for at least an hour after the session. More GH is a good thing because, like epinephrine, the hormone can trigger fat breakdown. GH also helps boost protein synthesis within the body — a key element of building muscle. Adding muscle to your body increases your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, meaning you’ll burn more calories in a day.
- HIIT may help you eat less. The Aussie researchers observed that intense training can lead to an uptick in corticotropin releasing factor, or CRF, a hormone that can bring about a decrease in appetite.
An Effective Environment: Why Bootcamps Keep You Committed
If you step away from all of the science stuff, there’s a second (and perhaps bigger) reason why Fitness Bootcamp training has worked so well for so many: The most effective workout is the one you consistently do, and bootcamps help inspire consistency. Here’s how:
- They Take Thinking Out of the Equation — Many people want to get in better shape, but not everybody knows how to go about doing that. When completing a Fitness Bootcamp workout, it removes that “What should I do today?” barrier from the equation. “When people join, they don’t have to worry about anything. They show up, we warm them up, then we coach them through the workout,” says Edgar Smith, owner of Wichita-area Fitness Bootcamp training.
- High-Energy Trainers Help You Get Pumped — Motivation is no problem once you make it to class.
- The Workouts Are More Fun Than You Think — Despite the military-sounding name, bootcamp workouts are meant to be enjoyable. It’s supposed to be encouraging. It’s supposed to be fun. You’re working out and working hard, but there are also times where you’ll be laughing and having a good time.
- You’ll Make Fit Friends, Who Will Hold You Accountable — There are people who came to our bootcamp class four years ago and have been friends ever since,” Smith says. “They do stuff on the weekends. They hang out with their families together.” They also keep each other from slacking off or skipping out. We have a private Facebook page where some of the ladies will tag their friends in messages like, ‘I’m out of bed, you better be too!’” Smith adds.
- A Little Friendly Competition Will Help You Get Better — People say that they don’t, but they definitely do compete with each other. So that kind of makes everyone push throughout the workout.