Are You Making This Cardio Mistake?

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Are you exercising for long periods of time to try to burn fat? If you're like most people you probably are, but there is a better way. It's called "high intensity interval training" (HIIT) and lately it has started to become pretty famous for its obvious health benefits.

--So What Exactly Are The Benefits?

1. Major Increase in Fat Loss. In a study done by Tremblay et al, two groups were assigned different training regimines. Group A performed the regular moderate intensity cardio (like jogging or bicycling) for 20 weeks and Group B performed a HIIT routine for 15 weeks. In the end the results of each group were recorded. Group B lost nine times more fat than Group A and in 5 weeks less (1)!

2. Increased Lactic Acid Threshold. Lactic acid is that burning sensation you feel when you work a muscle really hard. You're lactic acid threshold is how fast your body can remove the lactic acid in your muscles. The higher the lactic acid threshold, the harder you can work your muscles before they get tired.

3. Increased peak power, or the maximum amount of energy available for a sustained period of time (2)(3)(4).

4. Increased VO2 peak or ability to utilize oxygen (2).

5. Shorter Workouts. I don't know about you, but would you rather spend 30 minutes to an hour jogging along the road, or crank it up a notch and just spend 4-8 minutes performing sprints?

--So Why Does This Burn more Fat than just Jogging?

Although HIIT is much shorter than a normal "run for 30 minutes" workout, it burns more fat. To put it simply, after your HIIT training session is over with your metabolism explodes and tons of calories are being burned. So essentially with HIIT training, you burn most of the fat after your training session.

--So How Exactly Do I Perform This?

Simply put, HIIT is based around this concept: Go fast then go slow. Repeat. You can perform HIIT routines on pretty much any machine you want like a treadmill, elliptical machine, cycling machine, or apply it to almost any sport (swimming, cycling, running). Try to keep the bursts of speed at around 90%-100% of max effort.

Here is a sample HIIT routine:

Sprint 20 Seconds
Rest 10 Seconds
Repeat 4-8 Times


Sprint 15 Seconds
Rest 5 Seconds
Repeat 4-6 Times

These are just samples, you can change it however you want (you could even use distance instead of time), but remember, HIIT is based around the concept of fast bursts of work. Also, to continually challenge yourself you should add to how many times you repeat the cycle. Say for instance day one you repeat the sprint/rest cycle 8 times, well the next time you should shoot for 9 times. Also remember the amount of time you sprint, rest, and the amount of times you repeat the cycle should depend upon your athletic ability.

If you havn't trained at a high intensity since your high school gym days, take it slow at first. If you have to start at 80% intensity and perform less cycles that's O.K. too. Everyone has to start somewhere. You may also want to check with your doctor before performing a routine like this as it is very physically demanding.

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(1) Tremblay, A., J. Simoneau, and C. Bouchard. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism. 43:814-818, 1994.

(2) Laursen PB, Blanchard MA, Jenkins DG. Acute high-intensity interval training improves Tvent and peak power output in highly trained males. Appl Physiol. 27:336-348, 2002.

(3) Truijens MJ, Toussaint HM, Dow J, Levine BD. Effect of high-intensity hypoxic training on sea-level swimming performances. J Appl Physiol. 94:733-743, 2003.

(4) Lindsay FH, Hawley JA, Myburgh KH, Schomer HH, Noakes TD, Dennis SC. Improve athletic performance in highly trained cyclists after interval training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 28:1427-1434, 1996.

Nathan Latvaitis is an avid fitness researcher. He believes that through knowledge, anyone can achieve their goals. Check out Free Fitness Tips

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