Good news ladies: plodding away for hours on the treadmill is not the best way to burn calories. Instead, you can speed up your metabolism and your workout with some higher-intensity interval training.
Research and my own years of experience prove that high-intensity cardio not only increases both exercise- and resting-energy expenditure but also results in greater fat loss and less muscle breakdown.
Consider this: Twenty minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise can boost your V[O.sub.2] max as well as burn more calories, increase your metabolism and preserve your muscle tissue, all at the same time. On the other hand, too many long, slow cardio sessions may actually have a detrimental effect on your physique because, in addition to using fat as fuel, the body breaks down muscle protein for energy.
Get With The Program
The key to interval training is to do it right and use it sparingly–no more than twice per week. Continue with longer sessions as well, alternating between lengthy, slow-paced cardio and shorter but more intense interval-training sessions. You can adapt the guidelines in the chart to any aerobic activity you please. In fact, you’ll get better results by changing your mode of exercise every time you do cardio.
Begin each session with a 5-7-minute warm-up, then increase intensity one of two ways: Either increase speed or resistance for the prescribed amount of time, then reduce intensity and recover. When you’ve alternated work and recovery intervals for the desired length of time, cool down and stretch.
Intervals come in many forms, so don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to the cardio machines at the gym. Run laps at a track, ride a bike or grab a jump rope and hop to it! Not only will intervals allow you to train harder and burn more calories, but you’ll also challenge yourself and dump the boredom of yet another session of steady-speed cardio training.
Fat-Burning Interval Training
By alternating harder and easier segments, you can burn more calories.
Notes: Total interval workout time doesn’t include 5-7-minute warm-up and cool-down.