Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Intervals for fat loss

Fat loss, fat loss, fat loss! That still seems to be one of the most talked about and controversial topics in the health and fitness world. Everybody seems to have an opinion on what is the best kind of exercise for fat included! So for those of you that know me, you will know that I am not a big fan of steady state aerobic training (or what many people like to call "cardio")........ well unless you are training for an endurance event (crazy endurance people!)

I don't know how many people come up to me all the time, and tell me, "so I do like 60 min of cardio everyday, but I just can't seem to lose this fat and get toned....I just don't understand it" (umm news flash people, you can't expect to lose fat and eat fast food everyday!) People also seem to think that just because they get on the elliptical everyday they should be getting skinny. Next time your at the gym look around at who is on the elliptical you it ain't going be fit people with well defined muscles! Nope! It's going to be the fat people! Now don't get me wrong, it's fine to get on the elliptical, and everybody has to start some place, so I would never discourage an overweight person from busting out 60 min of mind numbing cardio (hey some places even have little TV's in the machines so you don't have to miss Oprah). I'm just happy to see them at the gym and not at Walmart!

But for those of us that don't get all hot and bothered over doing hour after hour of cardio, there might be another way. It's called intervals. I know it's a revolutionary concepts thats only been used for like......every!

Basically intervals mixes bouts of high intensity exercise followed by a recover period, then repeated. By high intensity I mean a level of intensity that you can only sustain for 30-60 seconds before you have to recover for 60-120 seconds. Look up HIIT training for more info. With interval type training you can burn the same number of calories in less time, which means more time for the important things like LIFTING!

Numerous studies have been done on interval training and fat loss. Here is an example of just one.

Interval training burns fat and improves fitness more quickly than constant but moderately intensive physical activity, according to research by a University of Guelph researcher.The study by Jason Talanian, a PhD student in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. It found that after interval training, the amount of fat burned in an hour of continuous moderate cycling increased by 36 percent and cardiovascular fitness increased by 13 percent. Fitness buffs and athletes have long used interval training — short bursts of intensive effort interspersed with more moderate stretches — to improve performance. But Talanian’s study shows that the practice also improves cardiovascular fitness and helps the body burn more fat, even during low-intensity or moderate workouts.Talanian studied women riding stationary bikes in hard-easy intervals in the training lab of his supervisor, Guelph Prof. Lawrence Spriet. The eight subjects included moderately fit women in their 20s as well as borderline sedentary subjects and an active soccer player. They trained every other day for two weeks. They alternated 10 sets of four-minute bursts of riding at 90 percent effort with two minute rest intervals. It did not matter how fit the subjects were before. After interval training, they experienced not only an increase in fat used and in aerobic capacity, but also an increase of enzyme activity in the muscleTalanian notes that faster fat burning and greater overall fitness may not necessarily mean immediate weight loss. The technique may improve someone’s potential to burn more fat, “but for weight loss, you need to consider a balance of exercise and a healthy diet,” he said.The message from his studies is to mix interval training into an exercise routine once or twice a week, particularly in running, swimming or cycling.
Source: University Of Guelph (2007, June 29). Interval Training Burns More Fat, Increases Fitness, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 24, 2009, from

So for those of you that don't want to spend you life on the treadmill or elliptical, or who are at a plateau for fat loss, try mixing in intervals a couple of times a week.


  1. Intervals kick ass. I like Tabata stuff too, just because it keeps my attention.

    I'm going to be one of those dolts on the treadmill for the next while though man. Mace suckered me in to doing an endurance event.

    Good post.

  2. At least you have a reason to be on the treadmill. Training for a purpose makes training so much better!