If you are trying to lose body fat, there are just some things you absolutely have to do. You have to burn more calories than you consume, drink plenty of water, eat whole and healthy foods, and you have to get your heart rate up during exercise. My first competitions were not for bodybuilding…they were for 5k and half-marathon races. I was the cardio queen until I basically injured myself by overtraining and omitting weight lifting from my routine. I could run circles around you, but I was not strong, nor did I have a low body-fat percentage. Long duration cardio is good in moderation but moderate to high intensity intervals and workouts torch fat in the best way.
I have done both, and I don’t think I will ever slave away on the treadmill or the road ever again. I think the longest distance I will run is a 5k. Lately, I have been doing more interval work such as sprinting on the treadmill, spinning on the bike, and dancing. I will do it at the end of my weight session, in a separate session, or in between sets. You don’t have to do 2 hour low intensity, empty stomach cardio sessions anymore. You can kill yourself for 20-30 minutes or you can die of boredom and starvation because you spent 2 hours on the treadmill on an empty stomach!
Intervals are best because your body does not get used to them and you are constantly challenging yourself. When you do long duration, low intensity cardio, after a while, your body will adapt and progress will come to a halt. Now you have people who will argue that if you stay below the “fat burning zone” and do empty stomach, low intensity cardio you will burn more fat calories. This is thought to be true because you have not eaten and you can tap directly into fat stores. This is a fitness myth. Here is a little science for you…let’s say you walk for 20 minutes at 3 miles per hour, 67% of energy will come from fat which equals 64 calories from fat burned. BUT….if you run at 6 mph for only 20 minutes…you use more carbohydrates as fuel and only 46% of energy comes from fat but you have burned more TOTAL calories and 90 calories from fat. You use more carbs for energy but you also burn more calories overall in a shorter amount of time with HARD WORK…NOT LOW INTENSITY.
Confusing? Keep it simple…work harder and burn more fat. If you are walking and talking, you are not burning enough fat. If someone told you the sky was green and the grass was blue but you can see for yourself that is not true would you still believe them…? Don’t believe the hype just because everyone else around you does. I’m not just telling you from science, I am telling your from experience….
Here are some fun ways to get your high intensity cardio sessions in:
- Sprint on the track or treadmill
- Go to Zumba class or turn the radio on and dance in your house…make sure that you are doing constant intense dancing…not at a slow pace
- Spin intervals on the bike
- Jump rope competition with your kids
- Run the stairs
- Lift weights in a quick circuit style fashion and jump rope in-between circuits
Try this full body circuit for a nice sweat session. Complete these exercises back-to-back. Perform each one. At the end of each circuit, jump rope or do jumping jacks for 60 seconds. Then rest for 2-3 minutes. Repeat 3-4 times depending on your fitness level
- Burpees (30 seconds)
- Jumping Lunges (30 seconds)
- Dumbell Swings (Hold dumbbell in one arm and swing up to chest level while in the squat position…repeat 10 times, then switch arms)
- Jumping Pull-Ups (Find a bar high enough and jump up and pull yourself up) 15 times