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Turn Cardio Routines into Fat Blasting Sessions By Doing Less

Updated on July 25, 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.


Do Less Cardio to Burn More Fat

Even some fitness professionals still subscribe to that outdated thinking: Do lots of steady paced aerobics to lose all the weight you want.

Well apparently, it’s not working. Most of a gym’s or health club’s overweight patrons are on the cardio machines at any given time—sometimes for long periods, sometimes every day, for months on end. The weight fails to come off.

This is because long duration cardio, also known as steady state, fails miserably at stripping off excess body fat.

What seems to contradict this is that competitive long-distance runners, particularly marathon runners, have thin builds.

However, they also run about 10 miles nearly every day, sometimes even putting in 15 mile days, and we’re not talking a mere jog in the local park. They run as fast as they possibly can over a course of at least 10 miles—a five/six minute per mile pace. This is brutal, and only a few select individuals get high from this.

So what’s more realistic and sustainable for the average person who wants to lose weight, be it 10 pounds or 100 pounds?

A smart and efficient approach to cardio exercise.

Though lengthy sessions on cardio equipment, in a previously sedentary individual, will produce some initial weight loss, it’s ultimately not the answer, which is why you see what you see at the health club: Most of the overweight people are doing steady state cardio.

Take Excess Body Fat to the Cleaners

The best way to smoke out fat is to engage in hormonal cardio exercise. This goes by several other names, most notably HIIT: high intensity interval training.

HIIT invokes a hormonal response that does not occur with long duration or steady state aerobics. This hormone response causes what’s known as a metabolic ripple effect that results in an elevated resting metabolism for hours after the training session is over.

It’s a personal trainer’s responsibility to enlighten their uninformed clients about this proven science, instead of having their hefty clients lie on the floor doing tons of crunches with false hopes. A trainer should not be afraid to make a previously sedentary, very heavy client drip sweat and gulp air.

And if you, the reader of this article, ARE the individual struggling to shed pounds, you should dump that time-consuming steady state and switch to HIIT.

One of the most popular forms of HIIT is sprinting or dashing.
One of the most popular forms of HIIT is sprinting or dashing. | Source
For those for whom sprinting or running is not an option, HIIT can be performed equally effectively on a stationary bike.
For those for whom sprinting or running is not an option, HIIT can be performed equally effectively on a stationary bike.

It’s not how many calories that one burns during cardio that matters; it’s how many calories one burns in the hours after the cardio session ends that really matters.

Lengthy steady pace workouts create an elevated metabolism during the exercise, but soon afterwards, metabolism (rate of calorie burn) returns to baseline.

HIIT increases the body’s circulating levels of human growth hormone and testosterone. What few people know is that these hormones are the most powerful natural fat burners known to science. Get these hormones hopping in your body, and the fat will come off!

The beauty of HIIT is that when the session concludes, these hormones are still hopping, such that resting metabolic rate remains elevated for many hours afterwards, even while you’re napping in front of the TV. This phenomenon is called EPOC: excess post-exercise oxygen consumption; in plain English it means a caloric after-burn.

Another wonderful thing about HIIT is that one session can be completed in less than 30 minutes! Even 15 minutes of HIIT will have a striking effect on burning up fat. And it need be done only a few times per week. How great is that?

Basic HIIT Formula (2-3x/week)

  • Warm up for about 7-10 minutes.
  • Thirty seconds of your fastest pedaling, jogging/running, or fastest walking on an incline (do not hold onto the treadmill).
  • You must work hard enough to become completely breathless – very heavy panting such that you cannot talk – within 30 seconds. Cease the activity if you become nauseous or feel faint.
  • After 30 seconds par back to an easy pace for about two minutes that allows you to freely take recovery gulps of air.
  • The goal is eight so-called work intervals or “sprint” intervals.
  • Cool down for about 10 minutes.
  • There should be several sub-work intervals before starting the all-out intervals.
  • Beginners can do four or five work intervals, as this will be plenty, but after a few weeks or so, increase to six or seven, then eight. Use more sub-work intervals to warm up.
  • A novice should never start with full-out running sprints, though beginners can do remarkably well on all-out efforts using a stationary bike or elliptical machine.

HIIT can also be done with mini trampolines.
HIIT can also be done with mini trampolines. | Source
Another option for HIIT is steps.
Another option for HIIT is steps.

HIIT Hates Stubborn Fat

When I was a personal trainer I had my beginners (those new to exercise who were out of shape) conduct work or “sprint” intervals on a treadmill at only 5 or 6 mph. For half a minute. To them, this was strenuous.

I had fitter clients running 10 mph for their work intervals. This included a 250 pound woman who had prior conditioning from group cardio classes. She didn’t start at 10 mph, though. But I worked her up to it, always making sure that she felt fine during these sprints (no dizziness, chest pain, knee pain, etc.) albeit completely winded after 30 seconds.

HIIT will blast stubborn fat as effectively on a pedaling machine as on a treadmill as on an outdoor track. What burns up fat is the effort that produces the hormonal response – whether it’s done on a recumbent stationary bike or dashing up grassy hills.

For loss of stubborn fat, kiss long duration, time-consuming, boring lengthy aerobics sessions goodbye – and welcome high intensity interval training!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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