The most common thing I get asked by clients or people I talk to who know I am a personal trainer can be boiled down to one basic question: how do I burn fat faster?
Usually I am asked this by someone who has a wedding, vacation or reunion coming in up in about two weeks. Obviously, two weeks is not enough to make a gigantic dent in your body fat levels, but let’s assume you haven’t procrastinated.
What is the best way to burn fat faster and in less time?
Hands down, interval training is the king of burning fat faster and more efficiently. There is plenty of research that supports this, too. Yet, most people would rather do long, slow cardio sessions.
You have seen them; heck, you may even be one. Most gym goers – especially new ones – gravitate to the cardio machines and do long sessions of low intensity. I get it. It’s a low barrier of entry to use a treadmill and much less overwhelming than trying out the resistance machines strewn across the gym. Most of us are afraid to be out of our comfort zone, so jumping on an elliptical for 45 minutes while watching TV at least makes you feel like you did something.
In reality, though, has your body been changing?
If you are serious about burning body fat you need to incorporate interval training into your cardio routine, even if it is only one day a week at first. By doing intervals during your cardio, you will burn maximum calories, get a great heart workout and maximize your time spent in the gym. You probably won’t be able to chit-chat with the person on the treadmill next to you, but you certainly won’t be wasting your time anymore.
Intervals are periods of high intensity followed by periods of low intensity. This allows you to push yourself out of your comfort zone and burn extra calories that you aren’t able to when with traditional cardio. You will jack your metabolism higher throughout the rest of the day because you push yourself a little harder during intervals.
You don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to do intervals; you need to tailor it to your fitness level. People get the wrong idea with interval training. They picture an athlete sprinting for one minute followed by thirty seconds of a jog, but in reality they don’t have to be that intense. If you are beginner walking on the treadmill, your intervals may be one minute walking at 2.8 miles per hour (mph) and one minute walking a 3.5 mph.
All you need to do is to push yourself a little out of your comfort zone. Intervals can be done by varying speed, incline or resistance, and mixing cardio intervals in between weight exercises is a high intensity way to achieve increased fat loss results.
The best place to start an interval cardio is with a 20-minute routine. For example, let’s use the treadmill. Do a five-minute warm up between 3.5 and 5 mph to get the blood flowing and the muscles loose, so you are ready for your intervals. Then, stick with one-minute intervals: one minute at your high intensity followed by one minute of low intensity. That is it.
The key to any interval cardio routine should be finding the right intensity level. If you are not 100 percent successful on your first try, don’t worry. You might just have the perfect intensity. If you aren’t used to what it feels like to tax your cardiovascular and muscular system, then you may be a little hesitant during these initial sessions.
Take it slow at first and you will adjust accordingly to let your body prove you can handle it.
Now go out there and start your interval workout today, and let me know how it goes by email.
—Brian White is a personal trainer, gaining his certification in 1997. Author of “Secrets From a Personal Trainer,” White is also the co-owner of Diverge Personal Training Gym, located at 3919 Fourth Ave. in Hillcrest. Contact him at 619-255-5571, firstname.lastname@example.org or youshouldbedoingit.com.