I remember when I first joined a gym. I was fourteen years old and determined to lose the fat that dwelled around my belly for more than a decade. I would go to the gym and spend 2 hours on an assortment of ergometers. Copious amounts of cardio in my mind, was the fat burning method. I cannot stress how ignorant and misinformed I was. Unfortunately too much cardio will deplete muscle and muscle burns fat. So the more muscle we have the more fat we will burn.
Yes, cardiovascular exercise or aerobic exercise has a never ending list of benefits for our body. It reduces the risk of many health problems, increases our life expectancy, increases blood supply to our muscles, increases HDL cholesterol (the good kind of cholesterol), decreases triglycerides (the form which fat is stored in the body), strengthens our hearts, betters our metabolic, circulatory, and immune system, and the list goes on….Don’t get me wrong, cardio/aerobic exercise should be an important part of your fitness routine. But if fat loss is what you have been so eagerly trying to achieve then I recommend incorporating three session of HIIT (high intensity interval training) per week. You may burn bounteous calories doing long cardio sessions but interval training raises resting levels of 3-hydroxyacyl coenzyme A dehydrogenase (HADH). HADH is an enzymatic marker of fat burning, and raised levels allow the body to incinerate more fat than a 45 minute run. Interval training also increases hormones which assist in decreasing body fat; such as, catecholamines, cortisol, and growth hormones. Catecholamines are produced during high intensity exercises. It is a fat incinerating hormone which helps regulate the metabolism. Research shows that epinephrine (or adrenaline) produced through high intensity training boosts fat mobilization. Catecholamines bind to receptors found in abdominal subcutaneous fat proving that HIIT has the potential to lower abdominal fat stores. HIIT is one of the most prevailing stimulators of the growth hormone. Did you know that the growth hormone is TEN TIMES higher after SIXTY minutes of HIIT?! The growth hormone stops Lipoportein Lipase (LPL), which is the body’s number one fat storage enzyme. So it hinders the body from storing fat while simultaneously increasing hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL). HSL is the fat-mobilizing enzyme. Okay, sorry, I just went science on your a**. SIMPLT PUT: HIIT stimulates the growth hormone which in turn stops fat storage and heightens our body’s fat burning capacity. Guess what else stimulates the growth hormone? My favorite thing: SLEEP!!
So to summarize all that convoluted banter I just hurled onto the screen: HIIT increases the growth hormone, which in turn increases the action of catecholamines as well as the fat cell’s reaction to epinephrine – a dominant fat burning hormone.
Okay, now you know to why HIIT is so amazing it will hopefully allow you to reach your goals. Remember that if you are a beginner interval training is tough! It may seem easy peasy, but I am warning you, you may puke after the first session. Take it slow and work up to higher intensities.
Also, everyone has different fitness goals. An endurance athlete, such as a marathon runner, will probably participate in steady-state cardio to increase their aerobic capacity; while a regular joe gym go-er looking to shed fat fast may indulge in HIIT. This form of cardio will improve their anaerobic capacity and incinerate body fat fast, in a short amount of time. It is also an awesome tool to use as cross training to prevent hitting a plateau.
15-20 mins of HIIT, three times a week is ideal. Any more than 4 times a week may cause you to enter a physiological state of overtraining.
If you really want to rev up the fat burning, then I recommend incorporating supersets into your routine. Perform two exercises of antagonist and agonist muscle groups, back to back – that’s one set. Rest. Repeat for a total of three. Some people like to superset between upper extremities and lower extremities; but I personally like to switch between agonist and antagonist muscle groups. So for example, I will perform a Wide Grip Lap Pull with Dumbbell Chest Pull Overs for a total of three sets.
This will cause your workouts to be shorter but you will be BEAT by the end of it. Use this technique with HIIT and you’ll be getting the most bang for your buck!
Hope this information helps everyone who accumulated a tire around their waists over the holidays 😉