Running for Fat Loss (Mostly) Sucks

This is an updated version of an article first written back in 2011. Although the sentiment remains largely accurate, I’ve offered some new thoughts to reflect my current perspective.

– MF 10/27/18


Now before the hate mail starts, let me remind you that I don’t believe movement can be “wrong.” Running is a fundamental way for humans to express movement.

It’s also really helpful in the event that you need to get somewhere quickly (e.g. running from killer machines in the event of a robot apocalypse).

However if you hate running and you’re doing it for fat loss… you’re blowing it. Here’s an “old-timey” Fisher Fitness Film from back in the day for you visual learners:

Let’s Start With the Facts

Many humans don’t have an ideal structure to be great at running without it taking a toll on their joints. Women in particular tend to have a harder time because of the angle of their thigh bone in relation to their pelvis.

Even if your structure is well suited to run, if you suffer from any muscular imbalances in the hips (and I hate to break it to you, but you pretty much all do), doing a technically unsound motion over and over will have a real cost on your body.

Furthermore, proper foot strike is an art in and of itself, and most of us don’t hit the ground properly. Consider this: every time your foot hits the ground, you’re landing with the force of 2 to 4 times your bodyweight. And there are 1,500 foot strikes to a mile… do the math for those of you that log miles and miles every week. That’s a lotta load kids!

BUT WHAT about…

Now, while Iong distance running is less than ideal for many people, you could make a case that sprinting can be worth adding into your routine. Due to the nature of it being an “all-out” activity, the total volume will naturally be constrained.

But even here, most people would benefit from a coach to make sure their technique is spot on so they don’t put unnecessary wear and tear on their joints. Diving right into max effort sprinting without properly preparing your body is a great recipe to tear a muscle.

And remember Kalos Sthenos? Beautiful strength? It’s best to move well before one moves a lot. The simple fact of the matter is, most people do not move well when they run. They look like they are in pain and limping, and their joints are often out of alignment. They’re hurting themselves, and I really wish they would stop.

If the goal for running is purely fat loss, there are better, safer, and more effective exercise options.

OK, Then What?

Properly executed weight training will be a superior choice if we’re looking to support fat loss with exercise.

I understand part of the appeal of running is that it seems simpler than weight training. After all, you don’t need equipment and anyone can put on sneakers and go for a run. When someone is looking to get active, it seems like a low barrier option.

But as we’ve already discussed, that doesn’t mean most people run “well.” In the fitness industry, we have a saying: “You can’t run to get fit, you need to get fit to run.”

If you’re really interested in adding jogging or running to your fitness routine without ending up with nagging overuse injuries, invest time in learning how to run properly. This usually means hiring a qualified coach.

And let’s all remember that you can’t out train your diet, so if you’re looking for fat loss, this is a crucial element that can’t be ignored.

To be clear, if you truly love running… have at it!

This Just In…

Since I wrote the original version of this article, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of some dedicated aerobic work for recovery, heart health, and even maximum performance.

Additionally, while “metabolic resistance training” (MFF-style classes that incorporate cardio AND weight training) will generally be safer and more effective for fat loss training, running is certainly one way to increase overall activity.

Hell, I myself enjoy running outside, particularly while traveling. It’s convenient AND it allows me to check out my surroundings.

So if you really love running and are committed to making it a part of your fitness, it can certainly have its place. Just be honest with yourself if your body is getting beat up. (I’m talking to you marathoners who push through chronic pain cuz you’re addicted to the endorphins that come with running!)

If that’s the case, and you can’t resist your passion, at least consider finding a qualified coach to improve your technique. And, of course, if you hate it and it hurts you, but you are running from killer robots, suck it up and RUN.

BUT…

If you hate running and are just trying to lose weight, please stop. Particularly if your joints are yelling at you. The goal is to be healthy and hot, not busted and in the physical therapist’s office.

Eat properly for your goals, find an exercise modality you truly enjoy, and get help to make sure you’re training with safe and effective form.

And if you’re not sure how to eat for your goals? Or having trouble finding a modality you enjoy? Or want a qualified coach to advise?

I suggest you consider visiting your nearest Enchanted Ninja Clubhouse of Glory and Dreams!


Wanna pay a visit to your friendly neighborhood Mark Fisher Fitness Clubhouse? Schedule a Health & Hotness Strategy Session today!

Book Now


Mark Fisher, Ninja Master
Mark Fisher is the co-owner and Ninja Master of Mark Fisher Fitness, one of the most successful gyms in the history of the fitness industry. Within its first five years, MFF grew from a single personal trainer to a staff of over 35, more than 800 members, and two studios in Manhattan, earning it a spot on the prestigious Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies in America. Mark also likes cursing, musical theater, and writing in third person. For more awkward self-talk, visit markfisherhumanbeing.com

Close popup