Burn 450% More Fat in Half the Time With Interval Training

If you're spending hours a week on the treadmill and still not seeing the results you want - relax. Step off the treadmill and get ready to burn more fat in less time with our introduction to interval training. The hurt never worked so good.

Everyone, including the USDA, thinks that the key to fat-loss is lots and lots of aerobic exercise. I'm sure you've thought to yourself, “if I could just get myself to do an hour or more of cardio 6 or 7 days per week, then I'd be ripped! I could take off my shirt and the ladies would be paying me to wash their clothes on my abs!”

For the record – NOT TRUE! Not at all. Not even a little bit.

Lies, Lies, Lies!

The USDA came out with their recommendation to do 60-90 minutes of aerobics for fat-loss in 2005. The FIRST EVER research study on the efficacy of their advice didn't come out until LATE 2007. Do you know what the study said?

Men who did moderate to vigorous (think your target heart rate zone) exercise for over 60 minutes per day, 6 days per week, for an ENITRE YEAR lost ONLY 6.5lbs of body fat! That is a half pound per month, for more than 6 hours of exercise per week. (1)

So, if you had 20lbs to lose, all you'd need is 18 hours of aerobic exercise per week and you'd be set in 12 months! Do you have 18 hours-a-week to spare?

M an running on treadmill

Is There A Better Way?

YES! There is a far better way that will get you much leaner in much less time. Researchers in Australia took two groups of people and put them on very different programs:

Group 1

  • 20 minutes of high intensity interval training (at week one they did only 5 minutes)

  • 3 days per week

  • In 15 weeks, they lost an average of 5.5lbs of fat

Group 2

  • 40 minutes of steady state aerobics (TWICE as much exercise)

  • 3 days per week

  • In 15 weeks, they GAINED an average of 1lbs of fat

In HALF as much time, the interval group lost body fat while the steady state group actually got fatter. (2)

This is not new information. Way back in 1994 Canadian researchers pitted steady-state aerobics vs. interval training:

Group 1

  • 15 week interval program

  • Burned only 13,614 calories during their workouts (less than HALF as many as group 2)

Group 2

  • 20 week steady-state aerobic program (5 weeks more)

  • Burned 28,661 calories during their workouts

Group 1 lost 450% MORE body fat than group 2, despite the fact that their training program was both shorter AND burned fewer calories. (3) The calories you burn during your workout are much less important than the calories you burn after your workout.

Why Interval Training Is So Much Better

Man sweating from exerciseInterval training is like putting your money in a high-yield, low risk mutual fund (which doesn't actually exist) while steady-state aerobics is like saving your money under your mattress. It beats spending everything you make, but you get no residual benefit and your money (efforts) are constantly being eroded by inflation.

A 30 minute jog will give you 30 minutes of a metabolic boost and that's it. So, it is definitely better than watching American Idol for fat-loss.

However, a 20 minute high-intensity interval workout will:

  • Burn more calories during the actual workout

  • Create a 12, 24, or even 36 hour metabolic boost after you workout (this way you actually can work on your fat-loss while watching American Idol)

  • Cause your body to burn more fat all day long (your body will burn a greater percentage of calories from fat all day long after an intense workout. Whereas, the low intensity stuff, like jogging, seems to decreases this percentage slightly.) (3)

In addition there really is aerobic “inflation.” Every time you do an aerobic workout your body gets better at it – better in the sense that it burns fewer calories and less fat every time you do the workout. (4)

With interval (and resistance training) you can train once and reap the benefits for 1-2 days afterwards. But, with aerobics the benefits cease as soon as you stop exercising.

More Fat-Loss In Less Time

Here's where the rubber meets the road. Shoot for three interval sessions per week. Alternate back and forth between the bike and the sprints. Perform these workouts on your non-lifting days, or after your resistance training sessions on lifting days. These workouts will:

  • Burn lots of calories during

  • Burn many, many more calories afterwards

  • Ramp-up your fat-burning all day long

  • Be much quicker and much more fun than plugging away mile after mile on the treadmill (is there anything more boring than that?)

HIIT Workout A – Bike Sprints:

  • Warm-up: 5min

  • 10sec all out sprint (level 9-10 on a scale of 1-10)

  • 50sec moderate (level 5-6 on a scale of 1-10)

  • Repeat for a total of 10 rounds

  • Add one sprint per week for 4wks

  • Cool down for 3-5min

  • Total time = 20 to 23min for way more fat-loss

HIIT Workout B – Running Sprints:

  • Warm-up : 5min (walk, jog and run)

  • Dynamic warm-up (high-knees, butt kicks @ 20/leg)

  • 10sec all out sprint (9 on a scale of 1-10) – Note: you can do this in an alley, on a field, or on a quiet block. A treadmill will NOT work. It will take more than 10sec to get up to top speed. Also, sprinting is done on the balls of your feet – no heel to toe action.

  • 50sec brisk walk to start line

  • Repeat for a total of 10 rounds

  • Add one sprint per week for 4wks

  • Cool down for 3min

  • Total time = 20 to 23min for way more fat-loss

Hopefully, it goes without saying that you need to eat better if you want to maximize your fat-loss. With decent nutrition, a smart 3 day per week fat-loss lifting program, and 3days per week of HIIT you can expect to look much better in 4 weeks.

1. McTiernan, Anne, et. al. Exercise Effect on Weight and Body Fat in Men and Women. Obesity (2007) 15, 1496-1512
2. Trapp EG and Boutcher SH. Fat loss following 15 weeks of high intensity, intermittent cycle training. Fat Loss Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine,
University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
3. Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism.
Metabolism. (1994); 43(7):814-8
4. Williams PT, Wood PhD. The effects of changing exercise levels on weight and age-related weight gain. Int. J Obesity (2006) 30(3):543-51
Josef Brandenburg

Josef Brandenburg is a Washington D.C.-area fitness expert with 16 years of experience and co-author of the international best-selling book "Results Fitness." In 2004, he started True 180 Fitness (formerly The Body You Want) personal training program, which specializes in helping you get the body you want in the time you have available. Josef holds certifications from Precision Nutrition, American Council on Exercise, National Academy of Sports Medicine, Functional Movement Systems, Corrective High Performance Kinesiology, and the National College of Exercise Professionals. Learn more about Josef on his blog, follow him on Twitter and Facebook.