Football fans like Patrick Dwyer Financial Advisor can certainly attest to the athleticism that is required to reach the highest levels of the game. But even if you are not destined for greatness as the lead quarterback on a Superbowl-winning team, you can still win by enjoying the significant physical benefits that come from playing football. One of the most important side-effects of playing football is the impact that it can have on your waistline – for a number of reasons, a game of football is an excellent way to torch body fat while maintaining lean muscle.
Losing fat, keeping muscle
No one wants to have a “skinny fat” physique – despite the brief popularity of the “dad bod,” most of us would prefer to have a lean and well-muscled body. When we think about dropping a few pounds or losing weight what we really mean is that we want to lose fat. And when it comes to losing fat there are two important things to consider.
First, we can’t avoid the basic fact that in order to lose weight, we need to expend more calories than we eat. This is often attempted by lowering food intake at the same time as increasing activity – typically through cardio work. However, we also cannot avoid the fact that excessive steady-state cardio can have the effect of cannibalizing our muscles. Literally the body eats its own lean tissue in response to a calorie deficit in combination with lots of cardio. And because muscle mass means the body burns more calories at rest, a loss of this mass means that your metabolism drops, making it necessary to eat even less. This is a vicious cycle that is difficult to break.
How to burn fat if not through hours on the treadmill?
Research is increasingly showing that you can burn significant numbers of calories and contribute to cardiovascular health while maintaining or even increasing muscle mass by changing your approach to cardio. Instead of long, steady-state sessions on the treadmill, you should be doing HIITS – periods of high-intensity interval training. Basically, the idea is that engage in short bursts of intensive activity, rest, and do it again, and again! Because this activity is short, it does not lead the body to eat its own muscle mass and targets the burn to fat stores.
You should also be lifting heaving things or moving them through space in order to build or keep muscle mass. This includes your own body as when you perform body-weight activities. It also includes isometric activities such as pushing against opposing forces, and plyometric activities like jumping.
Sound familiar, footballers?
If you think the recipe for losing body fat while maintaining muscle mass sounds pretty much like a game of football, you are absolutely correct! Football is an excellent way to combine muscle-preserving HIITS with muscle-building isometric and plyometric activities.
So, if you needed a reason to get off the couch next Sunday and play football rather than watch it, here it is! Your waistline will thank you.