Interval Training is Supreme

I get a lot of questions from people on what they should do for cardio for losing fat, and my answer is always intervals. Intervals are a research-proven KEY to your fat loss program and health.
Now I know a lot of people worry that intervals can get boring. They will if you do the same ones over and over again. Now you should know there many ways to do this, the traditional bike, treadmill intervals, which I find very boring and so do many of my clients. That’s why we use metabolic conditioning for our interval training here at Fit-2-The-Core. We combine bodyweight exercises, strength exercises, core exercises with jumping rope, sprinting etc…
The key to an effective interval training program is to have variety, so you don’t end up at a fat loss plateau. Variety is one of the keys to continually to losing fat and reshaping your body.
Not only should you have variety within your training week (i.e. alternate between two different interval training workouts, rather than just doing the same interval workout each time), but you should also change these workouts every 4 weeks, just like we do at Fit-2-The-Core.
So just like your resistance training, you need to change your interval training program every 4 weeks. There are many ways to add variety into your interval program:
– switching exercise methods – Instead of always relying on traditional cardio equipment such as running or biking, start using bodyweight exercises or strength exercises.
– Increase or decrease the length of the interval (while decreasing or increasing the intensity, respectively)
– increase or decrease the number of intervals per workout
– increase or decrease the rest time between intervals
Let’s take a look some different interval methods. Here is my list of preferred ways to do your intervals, ranked in order from best to worst, based on my experiences…
1. Sprinting outdoors (and hills might be the absolute best)
2. Bodyweight interval circuits (with or without resistance)
4. Treadmill running
5. Stationary cycle (upright preferred)
6. Stair climber- As long as you’re not hanging all flexed over the handles or watching T.V.
7. Rower- Again it’s important to keep good posture throughout each row.
8. Swimming (only works for competent swimmers)- Believe me I suck at swimming so I personally know how true this is.
9. Elliptical & Cross trainer machines- I put this here for people who cannot do any of the above, I personally think this is the worst method.
Okay, now that you know some different methods your probably wondering how long should you do intervals for?
Well to be honest, there is NO “best” interval training program – no best “sets and reps” for fat loss.
But that is good thing because it allows you to use variety in your approach. So the best interval training method is simply the one that changes and progresses every 4 weeks.
Interval recommendations have ranged from 15 seconds (anaerobic intervals); 2 to 5 minutes (these are known as aerobic intervals). So let’s take a look at some interval recommendations from anaerobic (without oxygen) to long duration (aerobic with oxygen).
8 seconds on, 12 seconds off
This is the duration used by the Australian researchers in the now famous “intervals vs. cardio” study from 2007.The results found that intervals helped subjects lose belly fat, but cardio didn’t. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to replicate 8 seconds on, 12 seconds off using cardio equipment in your gym. So you have to very creative or you can try and use the same ratio at longer interval pace such as 24 seconds on, 36 seconds off. I use these with my clients for shuttle runs. These really kick butt and accelerate your fat loss.
15 seconds
The great thing about 15 second intervals is that you’ll be able to work at a very high rate (almost near your maximum power output), as long as you get adequate recovery between work intervals. The downside is that it is very difficult to do 15 second intervals on machines, because it takes a long time to “build up” and “bring down” the machine settings to the correct speed.
If you decide to use these short, high-intensity intervals, you should do so only if you already have an above average level of fitness. Your rest interval should be at least 15 seconds long, and can be as long as 60 seconds. The longer you rest, the harder you will be able to exercise in each interval.
20 seconds on, 10 seconds off
This method is known as the Tabata protocol, after the Japanese scientist that published a study on this routine. It is very demanding, and while some trainers have suggested this is the best method for interval training, there is NO proof that you will get better fat loss results.
The pro’s with this method (as well as the 15 second intervals) is that you’ll get your workout done faster (provided you do the same number of intervals as any other workout). Again, it would be very difficult to perform this type of interval training on a machine, due to the time lag as you increase or decrease the settings. And finally, these too should only be performed by above average fitness levels.
30 seconds
I’ve used and still do use a lot of 30 second intervals. Beginners will rest up to 90 seconds between intervals, while advanced fitness levels will rest 30-60 seconds. The longer (relative) rest allows you to work harder in each successive interval (i.e. you’ll almost be able to match your performance in the first interval with each following interval). Short rest intervals (as in the Tabata protocol) will lead to a dramatic drop-off in performance with each interval. You can easily do the 30-second intervals on any machine. Or work great for body weight exercises as well.
45 seconds
These intervals are proven for fat loss, in addition to being effective for many team sports (such as hockey, soccer, basketball, and rugby). Not only will these fatigue your muscles, they will also challenge your will to complete each interval (if done at the right intensity).People always tell me “yeah I do intervals for 30-40 minutes ” Sorry but those aren’t intervals that high intensity aerobics. If you perform these at the right intensity be happy if you get through 12 minutes. Use 45-90 seconds of recovery between intervals. Do 3-6 intervals per workout.
60 second intervals
Similar to the 45 second intervals in benefits and toughness. Use 60-120 seconds of recovery between each. You can start your first month at 120 seconds recovery, 2nd at 90 seconds 3rd at 90 seconds and 4th at 60 seconds. See how simple it is to add variety and progressions. Change the rest and you completely change the workout.
120- 180 second intervals
These are now officially aerobic intervals, and can be used for both fat loss and improving aerobic capacity for sports and running. A great way to achieve two fitness goals at once. Exercise for 2-3 minutes and then recover for 1 minutes. Repeat 6 times. These workouts take longer , but can play a role in changing your body and improving your performance.
Are you a Beginner?
If you are beginner your probably thinking that these intervals all sound “too intense” for you, don’t worry. Interval training is all relative.
First try working at a slightly harder than normal pace. By the end of the interval, you should be getting tired, but you shouldn’t be gasping for air. Start conservatively and progress each week and month, you will eventually get the hang of it.
For example, if you regularly use level 5 on the stationary bike for 30 minutes continuously, you might try doing a 1 minute interval at level 7 and then going back down to level 5 for 60-90 seconds and repeat. Try that for an interval workout see how it goes.
We are currently using between 30-60 seconds metabolic conditioning intervals for fat losses with our clients. My clients love these because of the variety, challenge and results they achieve from them. But again, I really do believe you will get your best fat loss results if you vary your interval training workouts – just like you must vary your strength training workouts for continual fat loss results.
Give some of these interval methods a try and let us know how it goes
Intervals truly are your secret to success,

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