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Don’t Settle for Belly Fat: You Can Burn It with Burst Training

Updated on August 28, 2019
Lorra Garrick profile image

Former ACE-certified personal trainer Lorra Garrick has trained men & women for fat loss, muscle building, more strength and more fitness.

There’s no need to settle for excess belly fat and try to trick yourself into believing that stomach rolls are becoming. It’s normal to feel ill at ease in a bikini if you have a plump puffy middle. But don’t despair: Burst training is your ticket out of Belly Fat Land.

Burst Training: Shrink Your Middle Once and for All

When done faithfully and with a lot of grit, burst training will help shear excess fat off your belly and waistline.

Now before I continue, I need to point out the importance of proper diet. If you’re overeating, causing your body to take in more calories than it can expend, then you will not get the tight, defined abs and svelte waist that you’ve always wanted.

That old saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen,” is only partially correct. This is why not every trim person has a taut, defined midsection.

One way to lose belly fat, burn overall body fat and increase overall muscle tone is burst training.

What exactly is burst training?

Burst training involves six to eight, one-minute exercise sessions throughout the day. But wait – there’s more to this.

Whatever you’re doing for that 60 seconds must be grueling enough to make it impossible to continue doing it for longer than a minute (give or take a few seconds).

Thus, a one-minute, 4 mph walk at zero incline on your treadmill wouldn’t count as burst training. But walking one minute at 4 mph at 15% incline could be a true burst session – as long as you DON’T hold onto the treadmill at any point.

“Super effort” is the key here. It’s a burst of high energy, and the activity options are nearly limitless.

Why is burst training so effective at burning fat?

All-out effort causes your body to increase the production of two hormones: testosterone and human growth hormone. Women have testosterone (about one-tenth as much as do men).

What most people don’t know is that these two hormones are powerful fat-burners. Their levels are NOT increased with medium intensity exercise nor with long duration, mild activity such as slow jogging or brisk level walking.

Burst training is an anaerobic activity. When the body’s gears shift from aerobic to anaerobic, this creates a change in the hormonal environment – leading to the mobilization of fat depos.

As mentioned, you need to do six to eight bursts per day, ideally spaced evenly apart (but don’t obsess about making the time in between each burst the same). One burst can be soon after getting out of bed in the morning, and one can be shortly before bedtime. Then do four to six throughout the day.

How can you tell if you’ve done a burst correctly?

At the end (about 60 seconds), you are very heavily panting, unable to carry on a conversation, unable to hum a favorite tune, and the next 30-45 seconds are devoted to catching your breath.

Example of bursting for a minute.
Example of bursting for a minute.
Body-weight squats can also be done for a minute nonstop.
Body-weight squats can also be done for a minute nonstop.
Run on a treadmill for one minute at your fastest possible speed (do not hold on).
Run on a treadmill for one minute at your fastest possible speed (do not hold on).

Do not confuse burst training with something that you can’t do for longer than a minute but that does not leave you winded. For example, bench pressing nonstop for 60 seconds will not leave you heavily panting or unable to converse, even though you may be drained after 60 seconds, unable to move your arms.

Burst training employs movements that are typically “aerobic” in nature, though pushups and squats can be infused into a single burst. An example would be 60 seconds of the following rotation, done rapid-fire, rotating through until 60 seconds are up:

  • 5 jump squats
  • 5 pushups
  • 5 mountain climbers

You cannot go through the motions just to say, “I did (fill in the blank) for 60 seconds.” You must find the speed, jumping height, squatting or lunging depth, etc., that makes it impossible to continue the exercise for longer than a minute.

For instance, if after a minute you can still keep rotating through the jump squats, pushups and mountain climbers, then you need to increase one or more metrics:

  • Depth of the squats
  • Height of the jumps
  • Speed of the squats (so that you’re doing more sets of five within that minute)
  • Speed of the pushups (ditto)
  • Speed of the mountain climbers (ditto)
  • Range of motion of the mountain climbers

Hopefully you now clearly see that merely jogging in place for a minute won’t suffice. Sit-ups for one minute don’t count, either, even though your abs may be killing you after one minute. Yes, they may be yelling, but you’ll still have good wind and be able to converse.

Remember…the intensity must be high enough to make you breathless at the end. For some people, doing only pushups for one minute won't leave them heavily panting. But pushups are a great activity to mix in with more pant-inducing movements such as pike jumps, running up staircases, burpees and fast high jumping jacks.

More Examples of Burst Activities

Box Jumping
Box Jumping
Jump Rope
Jump Rope
Lunges (walking or stationary)
Lunges (walking or stationary)

Is there research on burst training?

A report by naturopathic physicians and certified strength and conditioning coaches, Drs. Jade Teta and Keoni Teta, explains in-depth the physiological science behind burst training.

Another study (Journal of Applied Physiology, 2006) cites that four to six, 30-second bursts, spread throughout the day, will cause marked fat-burning – when done six times over 14 days.

Though burst training is associated with one minute of strenuous effort, you can reap startling fat loss results with just 30 seconds. But remember…the end of that 30 seconds must have you feeling pummeled and unable to talk.

How often should you do burst training?

Two to three times a week can be very effective. If it’s not, you’re not bursting hard enough. You should increase some metrics rather than add more days per week of the bursting. If you do this too many days per week you’ll burn out, especially if you’re involved in other forms of exercise such as powerlifting, strength training, group fitness classes, CrossFit, martial arts, etc.


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    • Lorra Garrick profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorri G 

      20 months ago

      Glad you found it helpful. It really works.

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      Kathy Henderson 

      20 months ago from Pa

      Awesome tips, now to go find my motivation and energy, I think it is in the closet, LOL! Seriously though, this was very informative. Thanks


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