It’s been said that slow and steady wins the race. So, that hour you spend on the elliptical every day is the fastest way to drop the fat, right? Wrong. While slow and steady may be true for managing your 401K, it isn’t the case when it comes to losing body fat. Instead, a workout that alternates high-intensity levels with lower intensity effort is the ideal formula to rev-up your metabolism and keep your body burning calories long after you’ve stepped off the treadmill.
If you’re not familiar interval training, it’s basically a type of cardiovascular exercise that mimics the start-and-stop motions you’d find in sports. Intense sprints are followed by light jogging or rest. And, it’s not just for running; this method of training can be used for cycling, swimming, or any other type of cardiovascular workout.
So, why exactly does this type of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) burn so much fat? It’s all based around intensity. After you’ve given yourself a good 20-minute ass-kicking, your body will spend a few hours after the workout expending energy to recover. Not to get too scientific, but this post-workout condition (a.k.a. “holy shit, that sucked”) is referred to as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). What this means is that you’ve consumed a great deal more oxygen recovering from the exercise than you would have if you’d just done a moderately paced workout, i.e. that 60-minute elliptical routine.
So, how does this help get you to six-pack abs faster? In short, it means you will be burning more total calories than you would have if you’d spent an hour jogging on the treadmill. And it’s this burning of excess calories that pushes you into a caloric deficit (provided you’re not gorging on Ho-Ho’s) and forces your body to turn to burning more fat for fuel.
Obviously, I am talking about intense training here. You will need to push yourself out of that comfort zone you’ve gotten used to. No more singing along with Britney or chatting it up with friends–you’re really going to need to challenge yourself. But if you are willing to do this, (and have a sufficiently high pain tolerance) I can guarantee that you will spend less than half the time you usually do doing cardio, and get much leaner in the process.
Incorporating Interval Training into your Workout Routine
There are a few different ways to introduce this type of training into your routine. First, you can do all-out sprints. This would be balls-to-the-wall for a very short period of time, followed by longer resting periods. These are rough and can put you at risk for injury. A better way to start off is by slowly training your body to perform at a higher intensity for a slightly longer period of time while taking less time to recover.
Keep in mind that these types of workouts are very intense and will, no doubt, throw your body for a loop. That said; when you’re first starting out, limit this type of training to no more than 3-4 times per week. Below is a plan to help you incorporate interval training into your overall workout regimen.
But, keep in mind that adding interval training doesn’t mean you’re off the hook from your doing your longer, lower intensity cardio routines too. In fact, alternating between HIIT and moderately paced routines is ideal. Why? Because your body never gets too accustomed to either routine, i.e. it never gets too efficient at any given workout. Remember, when it comes to exercise, the more efficient your body gets at a given movement, the less results you’ll see. A good adage to remember is, “Everything works, but nothing works for long.”
So, whether you’re just starting out or trying to lose that last bit of “padding,” adding HIIT to your routine is the best way to beat the bulge. Not only will you spend less time doing cardio, but you’ll keep burning calories long after you’ve finished. And, best of all, you’ll be able to get out of the gym faster and back to your life.