When it comes to exercise, anything you do to burn calories can result in losing fat. However, recent research with tried and true results has shown that there are certain exercises – and very specific ways of doing them – that can maximize fat loss. Do these and you’ll burn fat long after your workout has ended.
Interval training is popular for its fat shredding results. You exercise hard for a short time, recover by continuing to exercise at a very reduced pace, then ramp up the intensity once again. These “intervals” help to release both growth hormone and adrenaline into your system, which in turn speeds up your metabolism and burns more fat. Additionally, a phenomenon known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) produces a workout “afterburn” effect, which means you’ll sustain an increased metabolic rate for an additional 24-36 hours after your workout – and as a result, burn more calories! For all of these reasons, interval training is far more effective in burning fat than the traditional long, slow cardio workouts.
An interval workout on a stationary bike is easy and gives you the basics of what is expected. You pedal hard, about twenty percent harder than normal, for about thirty to sixty seconds, then bring your intensity level down to about half that. Maintain this lower intensity for the same amount of time you were at high intensity (in other words, a 1:1 work:rest ratio). Throw six to ten intervals into your regularly scheduled workout and watch how fast you start to burn body fat.
Rowing is a fantastic fat loss workout because it combines elements of cardio and strength training. The natural movement of a rower is such that you are training in very small and repeated intervals every time you complete a stroke. Push with your legs, pull with your arms, and then recover. Do 8-10 interval sprints on a rower and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Note: most of us don’t have rowers at home, but you can find one at just about any functional fitness or CrossFit gym.
You may think that sprinting is old school, but it is one of the best interval workouts there is. You can start out at a jog and then sprint hard for ten to twenty yards. Next, jog for about 3 times your sprint yardage. To prevent hamstring pulls, make sure to warm up thoroughly and gradually increase your intensity as you build up to sprint speed. Another trick you can try is to run uphill – you’ll hit the ground quicker with each stride, making it more challenging and reducing the risk of a hamstring injury. This should be done once per week to start, moving up to twice per week as your legs get in shape.
If you only have a smaller space in which to work out or you want to build muscle at the same time you are burning fat, you can strength train using opposing muscle groups.
For example, do ten quick repetitions of push ups, then immediately do ten reps of squats. Rest between each set of repetitions and do this for ten to fifteen minutes each time. If you are just starting, do five reps of each, but make sure they are high intensity (that means do all 5 reps without resting – then rest between sets as needed). You can also do this with weights, doing shoulder presses first and then squats, or squats and then pull ups. As long as you use opposing muscle groups and high intensity, you’ll maximize your fat loss with this training method.
The Key is Intensity
No matter what your interval training consists of, the more intense you make it the more fat you’ll burn. Ramping up your metabolism and reaping the benefits of EPOC have proven time and again to deliver fat loss results.
If you’re interested in this type of interval training, check out a Pulse class at Frequency Fitness.