During both my formative years as a personal trainer and nutrition student in college and while owning personal training businesses throughout Miami, I have crossed paths with countless people looking to change their body in one way or another. More often than not, the number one request is weight loss.
Usually, one’s first plan of attack when looking to change his or her body is not hiring a personal trainer. Typically, the trainer is the third or fourth option, somewhere after “working out at the gym by myself,” group fitness classes, and at-home workout videos.
The problem, I would venture to guess 99 percent of people looking for weightloss encounter, is that their default choice of primary exercise is moderate to longer-duration cardiovascular (i.e., running or biking for 45-60 minutes at a steady pace). The notion behind this is that cardiovascular activity will “burn calories” – and thus, in theory, the longer you do it, the more calories you burn.
Let me not only dispel that myth completely but provide a helpful tip for all of you who may be looking for a little weightloss yourself: the best kind of cardio you can do for fat loss is short duration, high intensity exercise – sprinting, for example. Look at the bodies of sprinters versus marathon runners! While a marathon runner may do ten or twenty times the workload in distance and duration as a sprinter, they often have higher body fat and less muscle definition!
So, why is this? Without going into the somewhat lengthy scientific reasoning behind it, in simple terms, high–intensity, short-duration cardio activity “burns” more fat and increases metabolism over the next six to 12 hours after the exercise is performed than longer-duration, steady state workouts. Furthermore, when you are performing cardio for a very long time, your body will literally start to break down muscle for energy. This will eventually cause less definition, less toning and less body fat reduction.
Here is a sample cardiovascular high intensity interval program guaranteed to burn body fat using only an exercise bike: warm-up for 5 minutes at a moderate pace, then alternate between sprinting all out as hard as you can for 30 seconds and going slow and easy for 2 minutes. Perform that cycle 10 times and then finish with a 5 minute moderate-pace cool down. Try that three times per week to enhance your fat burning!