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Intensity NOT Duration

Jul 15, 2011

I'm sure you've fallen for the conventional wisdom of more time on the treadmill equates with maximum fat loss and calorie burn, right? We all have, and that used to be the "way to do it." Science has proven otherwise in recent history. Now's the time to take a step back and look at what you're doing with your cardio and think about whether or not it's actually working for you and helping you reach your goal.

Odds are you're wanting to burn fat, and if that's the case, hours spent pounding the tread or pedaling a bike aren't going to get you there. Really all that will get you is an increased craving for sugar and a decreased muscle mass over time! Studies now prove that cardio bouts should be short, intense, and to the point--alternating between 100% effort sprints and just enough rest between sprints to go all out again. This will actually burn MORE calories (more from fat) during and after your workout than during and after a moderate-paced workout of twice the duration.

Below I've included an easy template to follow for high intensity training. I recommend either the bike or elliptical as the treadmill can be dangerous for beginners. Also, another good thing about this type of cardio is that it can be adapted to any fitness level since we're measuring effort first and foremost. The more fit one becomes, the more they will be able to push themselves.

However, it is advised that if you are new to cardio training or have a questionable health history, you should hire a qualified trainer who can instruct and supervise you during your workout.

  • 5 minute warm at a moderate pace
  • 30 seconds 100% effort sprint
  • 90 seconds easy pace (slow enough to fully recover before the next sprint)
  • REPEAT 30:90 intervals, starting with 10 minutes of intervals in the beginning and work towards a max of 30 minutes
  • 5 minute cool down at an easy pace

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