Interval Training For Weight Loss...
Interval training for weight loss is getting more and more popular. It's actually called "Interval-Structured Aerobic Exercise": Sounds complicated, but really it isn't.
We'll come onto interval training for weight loss later, but to start with: Aerobic exercise is something you can continue doing for a reasonable length of time without getting seriously out of breath. Of course this varies between individuals - you might find walking up stairs makes you breathless when you start out, so be gentle on yourself.
Walking, cycling, swimming and exercise classes are the most common forms of aerobic exercise. They burn calories whilst you're doing them and they're really good for your heart. But when you stop exercising, so the calorie burn pretty much stops too.
The interval structure is where it gets interesting. Scientists have proven that your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate than normal for approximately 24 hours after doing your aerobic exercise using intervals.
So what are intervals? What this means is that instead of going at a steady pace (let's say 50% effort), you mix it up. Most interval systems suggest (after a warm up) that you increase the intensity from around 5/10 effort up to 90% over the course of a few minutes. After going for it at 90% for a minute, you go back to 50% for a couple of minutes of recovery and then work the intensity up for another burn.
The study which most clearly demonstrated the difference between steady work outs at a moderate intensity and intervals was conducted at the University of Alabama. Overweight female exercisers were split into two groups. The first group were asked to exercise constantly at 50% intensity.
The others did alternating intervals of 2 minutes at 95% intensity followed by 3 minutes of "recovery" at 25% intensity.
Even though the two groups were carefully measured to make sure that they burned exactly the same number of calories per exercise session, the intervals group lost 13% more body fat and ended up fitter as well.
It all happened because of the intervals which caused their bodies to burn more fat AFTER the exercise is over!
Here's the best bit - their work outs were actually shorter! Doing intervals the ultimate reward for your effort in the gym!
To read a summary of all the research into interval training for weight loss click here...
Just how significant are Intervals?
A University of Alabama study showed that exercising using intervals rather than constant lower intensity effort burned a staggering 160 calories more in the 24 hours that followed the work out.
This is a truly amazing discovery if you are someone who goes to the gym and usually spends 20-30 minutes on a treadmill or cross trainer. Interval training for weight loss will revolutionize how you use the gym. All you need to do use high intensity intervals followed by lower intensity periods of recovery.
And that's not the end of the good news:
Short Intervals are better than long intervals - they're the ultimate "do less, lose more" strategy:
According to a study featured in the European Journal of Applied Physiology reports that you get the best fat loss by doing high intensity intervals of around 6 seconds followed by 9 seconds of lower intensity exercise.
Compared with high intensity intervals of 24 seconds (with rest between of 36 seconds) you burn THREE TIMES AS MANY FAT CALORIES with these super short bursts of high intensity!
The reason behind it is fairly complicated, and we don't need to know why it happens to benefit from these amazing findings, but if you want to read everything about interval training for weight loss
click here for a summary of all these studies...
How best to use your exercise time ... to burn fat:
So let's say you go to the gym twice a week and want to be in and out in less than 90 minutes, what exercise would I suggest you do?
Firstly - BIG RECOMMENDATION - find something you like to do. If you're not having fun, you won't stick at whatever you choose. Everyone likes different things, so my recommendation is guided very much by what I like to do...
I would either do:
i) two days of swimming or biking (what I call "blend exercises" because they combine resistance with aerobic work out) focusing on very short intervals of high intensity followed by slightly longer intervals of low intensity work, as described above.
ii) one day of pure aerobics (running or cross trainer) using short intervals and one day of high resistance weight training.
Either one of these will give you the best fat loss and metabolism boosts that modern exercise science has been able to identify.
For more info on why you should consider high resistance weight training, click here...
All the best!