Have you ever wondered which type of exercise is best for burning fat? While most people would think cardio exercises work best, there’s actually a specific type of cardio exercise that is even more effective. This type of exercise is called high intensity interval cardio training.
In ordinary cardio exercises, you perform your exercises at the same pace throughout your entire exercise session. An example would be continuous walking for about half an hour. The problem with these cardio exercises is that your body adjusts to the speed of your activity to conserve calories. This stage is called the steady state, and is actually a self-preservation response of the body to increased energy demands. Of course, for exercisers whose main goal is to burn fat, getting into a steady state is in fact counterproductive.
High intensity interval cardio training (HIIT), on the other hand, intentionally aims to elude the body’s going into steady state. You do this by frequently changing the pace of your exercises throughout your workout session. For instance, if you’re a runner, you can alternately run at a medium and fast pace for 3 minutes at a time, followed by another 3 minutes of brisk walking. You follow this up once more with a full speed sprint for about a minute, then decrease to a medium pace for the next two minutes. You can move to fast-pace running again for the next minute and follow it up with 3 minutes of brisk walking. Within a mere 15 minutes of exercising, at around three times a week, you’d be burning enough calories to reduce your overall body fat.
Aside from running and walking, you can apply the same principle when using cardio machines such as treadmills and elliptical trainers. Warm up at a comfortable pace for the first 5 minutes. Afterwards, go as hard and fast as you can for the next 1minute. Follow this up with a slower pace for around 2 minutes or until you have sufficiently recovered to be able go full-speed again. The key here is to alter your speed and intensity level around every two minutes until you complete your half hour or 45-minute exercise session. HIIT is ideally done every other day, that is, around 3 to 4 times a week.
Aside from burning body fat faster, it is also ideal for busy people who hardly have time to squeeze in longer exercise sessions into their schedules. HIIT allows you to burn more calories even when you’re done exercising because it keeps your metabolism at an elevated level for the next 4 to 8 hours after your exercise session.
If you wish to apply HIIT on other cardio exercises such as aerobics, biking, swimming, mowing the lawn, rowing, or jump rope, just keep in mind to vary the intensity of your exercises. You can do this by either going faster or increasing the height of your jumps, or trying out new activities that your body is not used to.
You must keep in mind, however, that HIIT uses explosive movements. Your decision to try out these exercises would largely depend on your fitness level and your age. As a precautionary rule, always listen to your body and avoid overexerting yourself.