stop watch interval training

Are you dead beat of the traditional, time-consuming, dawdling “old school” aero/cardio workouts to lose that extra blubber dangling in your arms and legs? Then interval training is the answer for your flab dilemma. What is interval training? Is it effective for fast fat burning?

What is interval training?

To begin with, interval training is when you deviate the intensity of a specific exercise on a periodical basis throughout your aerobic session. This variation of intensity in interval training creates the “magic” for quick fat burning. Efficiency is the key for fast weight loss when we talk about this kind of training. Since you’re workouts are harder, you become stronger. You decrease the amount of time when the intensity is increased and, in turn, you burn fat at a rapid rate. A session of interval training will consequently be made up of several individual sets or intervals. If you are a beginner, instead of trying to run at 5-6 miles per hour for 30-40 minutes, try to walk easily first for 3-5 minutes as a warm up before sprinting for a short period; after that reduce your speed and pick the speed up again. This will make up one interval. Depending on your fitness level and targets, the time used up between sprints and rests will fluctuate and can be performed on any piece of equipment. As an alternative, a bicycle, rowing machine, stationary bike, or an elliptical machine for that matter can be brought into play to do your intervals. By basically raising the intensity to a level that is more challenging for a specific period of time, then go back to the original speed. Repeat this cycle. Though the exercises should also go faster, and more notably, you will get a hold of more results and be healthier from these methods.

Why is it so effective in losing weight?

Well, according to a study in 1994 when matching up interval training over 15 weeks to endurance training over 20 weeks concluded that the interval training group lost 9 times the amount of fat than the endurance training group.  Although there are some theories about why interval training is more effective for fat loss than steady state cardio, the truth is nobody is 100% sure why it works so much better. The most widely accepted theory is that interval training causes a greater “afterburn” effect, elevating your metabolic rate and causing you to burn extra calories for hours after you have finished training. With steady state training on the other hand, you are only burning additional fat while you are actually exercising. So, which sounds more efficient to you? Burning fat for just an hour or two a week while you are pounding a treadmill, or putting in a couple of 20 minute interval sessions and burning fat while you sleep?

So this is why we think interval training for fat loss is so effective. But really, while it’s nice to know the “why” behind the method, all I really care about is if it really does work or not.

Examples of Interval Training:

  • If you walk or run on a treadmill, adjust the incline or speed to safely increase the challenge for 60 seconds, then return to the normal pace for 60-120 seconds, and repeat up to 6 times.
  • You can also use a rowing machine, bicycle or stationary bike, or even an elliptical machine to do intervals. Simply increase the intensity to a more challenging level for a minute, then go back to the original speed. Repeat.

The great thing about strength training and intervals for fast weight loss is “efficiency”. Because you are working harder, the signal to your body to change is stronger. You cut time when you increase intensity and you burn fat faster.

Now don’t worry, I won’t be asking you to do hill sprints tomorrow if you aren’t exercising today. For a beginner, just do some slightly faster than normal walking intervals. For intermediate fitness levels, pick up the pace about 20% compared to your normal cardio levels, but again, the work periods are much shorter.

The key to fast weight loss and breaking through plateaus is shifting to a slightly higher intensity in order to cut time from your workout. But the workout also goes faster, and much more importantly, you will get more results and better fitness from these methods.