Sometimes simply dropping down a few jeans sizes isn’t enough. Looking great is fantastic, but looking fantastic feels brilliant. Because boot camps will both burn blubber and build a good helping of size (and strength), pushing down your body-fat percentage can be that much easier with this type of exercise.
Whatever your fitness situation, boot camps and the outdoor fitness approach championed here at British Military Fitness hang with the health world’s heaviest hitters when it comes to ridding yourself of extra pounds and ounces. How do we know? Because we’ve got proof.
Fat has a sworn enemy. It’s not some mystical berry from the Amazon, or even a Hollywood cosmetic surgeon; it’s high-intensity interval training (HIIT). By which we mean bursts of all-out, 100%-effort, full-body exercise followed by short rest periods.
It’s been proven to be more effective at burning fat than steady-state exercise, such as jogging. And on more than one occasion (in 2010 and 2014, for starters) as a powerful fat burner it its own right. Want to hazard a guess at which workout banner boot camps stand under? High-intensity interval training.
So, what’s the reason? “High-intensity interval training has been shown to use a higher percentage of fats for fuel,” says Mark Wood, Head Training Tutor. “So you’ll be using fat as a fuel during the session and post session. So that’s obviously going to help with the fat-loss process.
“If you look at the difference between a 100m sprinter and a marathon runner, a 100m sprinter is a lot leaner, they’ve got much more muscle tissue and you’ll rarely find them going out for a jog for an hour. They sprint. They work at really high intensities. We don’t train as a 100m sprinter would but we train with similar intensity.”
Mark points out part of the reason for HIIT’s fat-burning ability is that it increases growth hormone production. “Growth hormone is one of the biggest fat burners in the body,” he notes.
Part of HIIT’s fat-burning effect can be attributed to something called EPOC (excess post-exercise energy consumption). It occurs after strenuous exercise, the type you’ll get at a boot camp-style session at BMF, and is your body trying to erase the oxygen deficit you caused in class.
Mark explains: “People don’t have to go spend two to three hours in a gym. They can come for an hour of really intense training at boot camp, enter into EPOC following a session, which means during that session their body couldn’t effectively get in enough oxygen to support the working muscles and to support the tissue, so they’re working anaerobically. Basically what has to happen after the session is we need to repay all that debt. People won’t be realising it, but following a workout they are starting to take in more and more oxygen.”
‘That’s great, but what does it mean for my waistline?’ we hear you cry. “When you’re taking in more oxygen you’re burning more fat. That’s why people say, ‘You get this afterburn effect,’ or, ‘You continue burning calories for up to 48 hours post exercise’. So, depending on the type of class they’ve been in, their metabolism could be elevated for up to 48 hours after. If someone’s training on a Monday and then comes again on a Wednesday, their metabolism will have stayed elevated between those periods.”
The bottom line: hard work gets you a hard body.
As we’ve said before, bodyweight training, like the kind done at boot camps and our classes, isn’t the best route to getting mad muscle mass. And, for plenty of people, especially those with a ‘lanky’ physique, it will help.
Mark confirms the notion and points out that added armour has a fat-burn benefit. “Muscle, other than organ tissue like liver and heart, is one of the most metabolically active tissues in the body. So people who hold more muscle mass and have more muscle tissue will just naturally burn more calories sitting down doing nothing.”
Besides, there are few who will turn their nose up at more muscle. In turn, not only will better defined arms, stomach and legs mean you look fitter, more muscle mass will reduce your body fat percentage because a smaller proportion of your person is covered in fat.
So maybe you’re a seasoned gym pro. You’ve gained the all muscle mass boot camp is likely to offer, and you work high-intensity training into your weekly plan. The only thing you’re after is turning your slightly soft physique into one that’s sharp and shredded. What can boot camp do that your current routine can’t? It can provide competition.
Exercising in a group is prone to prompt just that. And it seems it could be the difference between owning a ripped torso the next time the summer sun shows its face or not, because a 2012 study found exercising competitively made people work for longer. More than going solo, or simply working out next to someone else.
While we don’t necessarily encourage competitive behaviour at our sessions, many of our clients regard trying to beat someone to the end of a set of squats, for example, as part of the appeal. While you could challenge your exercise bike neighbour to a race at a standard gym, don’t be surprised if people start giving you a wide berth when you get to the rowing machines. There’s strength in numbers at boot camp.