You’ve seen them all over your gym. The fitness enthusiasts that spend endless hours on the elliptical, the treadmill or the stair master, chatting up the person next to them about their weekend, their kids, their holidays. Sure they may show up every day and put the time in, but for the last 5 years their physique hasn’t budged one inch. So what are they doing wrong? Cardio. Traditional ‘steady state’ cardio specifically that is.
It can be difficult for people to grasp the concept of ‘less is more’, especially when it comes to exercise with the purpose of fat loss. Once you understand how interval training works and you incorporate this method into your routine, the fat will start melting off and never again will you schedule an hour out of your day for the elliptical.
If you’ve been researching ways to lose some body fat then no doubt you’ve heard of Interval training of HIIT. Interval training, when performed properly and with the necessary intensity, is a high energy, extremely effective fat burning workout. Interval sessions alternate an all out burst of intense exercise with a period of recovery. This pattern is repeated as many times as possible within a 10 to 40 minute time period, depending upon ability. A great example of an interval workout would be 50 or 100 metre sprints done at the track. Burst into an all out sprint at the start line for your chosen distance. Once you reach your end point, slow down to a walk or light jog in order to recover on your way back and repeat the process as many times as you can muster the energy for. The intensity is extreme but the paybacks are massive.
There are numerous benefits to interval training. In regards to fat burning, perhaps the most important is the EPOC factor (excess post exercise oxygen consumption). Basically this means that your body will be in a state of recovery for far longer than with traditional steady state cardio, which will allow your metabolism to become more efficient with each workout. You will be paying back that oxygen debt and burning fat and calories for roughly 36 to 48 hours following your workout which will turn any beer belly into a washboard.
Interval Training Spares Muscle Tissue
Another bonus to interval workouts is the salvage of muscle. When we spend countless hours on the treadmill, watching a movie or reading an entire novel, our bodies often dip into muscle in order to sustain the workout. Due to the short duration and the energy system requirements of interval training, far less muscle is spent on the payback. Studies have made connections between HIIT and the stimulation of Hgh (human growth hormone), otherwise known as the fountain of youth. When the lactate threshold is repeatedly broken, production of Hgh may be stimulated. Hgh is responsible for promoting new muscle growth, protein synthesis, improved sleep quality, sex drive, heart, kidney and bone health and perhaps most importantly, fat loss. That’s multiple win/wins in my opinion.
If you need proof that this system works, just envision the types of athletes that use it in their training. Think along the lines of Olympic sprinters, MMA fighters, boxers and gymnasts. These athletes all enjoy lean, muscular, cut physiques. Now compare that to those that make steady state cardio the meat of their training. Think marathoners specifically. There’s an obvious difference there. So grab some good tunes, a bottle of water and the mental preparation required for an intense session of body fat annihilation! It won’t take long before you’re singing the praises of HIIT too.