Fastest Way to Fat Burn

Although my first love is yoga, I have been incorporating more cardio into my workouts. With a history of cardiovascular disease in my family, I understand and respect the need for a healthy heart. Plus, with my wedding only 4 months away, it’s time for me to take my training to the next level. When I walk down the aisle, I want to be in the best shape of my life!

To achieve this, I started incorporating interval training into my routine. Interval training is a popular form of exercise that alternates periods of short, intense effort with periods of moderate to low effort. It is an all out exertion that requires your maximum oxygen uptake that causes the highest level of fat loss. And the best part is, it takes around 20 minutes.

Considering that the number 1 excuse people use for not exercising is lack of time, intervals are a perfect solution. It is quick, effective and to the point.

Here’s a simplified version of the science behind it:

Interval training incorporates the body’s two energy systems, the aerobic and anaerobic. The aerobic system uses oxygen to convert carbohydrates into energy. When you run or walk for several miles, you are tapping into this system. The anaerobic system draws energy from fuel stored as glycogen in the muscles for short bursts of energy, such as sprinting. This system doesn’t utilize oxygen and cannot provide enough energy for a sustained effort.

Because intervals require both systems, interval training has lots of benefits including:

More calorie burn – The more vigorous you exercise, the more calories you burn. 20 minutes of intervals uses more calories than 20 minutes of steady intensity. It also causes an “afterburn effect,” where the body burns more calories anywhere from 24-48 hours post-workout. So when you are relaxing on the couch, the furnace is still cooking. In addition, it boosts metabolism AND builds lean muscle.

Improved cardio function – Intervals cause your heart and lungs to become bigger, stronger and able to adjust to sudden intense challenges (like running to catch a bus). Plus, it allows you to exercise longer and with more intensity, improving overall athletic performance.

It’s fun – Because intervals are short, it prevents boredom. It adds a nice variety to your workouts, especially since you can vary the intensity level, length of work and rest intervals and number of reps. You can even opt to change the exercise modality, trying a bike, treadmill, running outside and even a jump rope. The great things about intervals is that there’s no one way of doing it. Different lengths of work and recovery bring different benefits and challenges, all of which are good.

It is time efficient – As I previously mentioned, you can do intervals in a short amount of time. My workouts average 20-23 minutes and I am completely spent! I have no excuse to not get it done and neither will you. Find the time and make it happen.

Intervals also improve your insulin sensitivity, optimizes cholesterol levels and decreases blood pressure. Combined with a whole foods plant based diet, it may even help you lose weight.

DISCLAIMER: Interval training is tough, so if you’re just starting to work out, spend at least one month working on your stamina with steady intensity cardio workouts before incorporating intervals into your routine.  Add these intervals in slowly and avoid repeating them on consecutive days. Intervals are hard on the body so give yourself ample rest and be sure to practice yoga too!

Wanna give it a try? Here are three example workouts.

Interval Workout #1

  • Warm-up jog for 5 minutes
  • Sprint for 30 seconds, followed by a 30 second recovery for 5 sets
  • Take a 1-2 minute jogging break and repeat for another 5 sets
  • Cool-down for 5 minutes

Interval Workout # 2

  • Warm up for 5 minutes
  • Then run, bike, or row for 3 minutes at your max effort (On a scale of 1-10, work at an 8.5-9.5)
  • Take 3 minutes active recovery moving at an easy pace and repeat 3 to 4 more times.
  • Cool-down for 5 minutes

Interval Workout #3

  • Warm up for 5 minutes
  • The do the following:
  • 30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover
  • 1 minute sprint/1 minute recover
  • 2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover
  • 3 minutes sprint/3 minutes recover
  • 2 minutes sprint/2 minutes recover
  • 1 minute sprint/1 minute recover
  • 30 seconds sprint/30 seconds recover
  • Cool-down for 5 minutes

For those of you just starting out, try doing intervals while walking. Incorporate short bursts of jogging into your regular fast walks. If you’re a beginner, try alternating leisurely walking with bouts of faster walking.

Now go give it a try and let me know how it goes. Do you feel the burn?!!

Want more info? Check out the latest research about interval training here.