cardio training: part 1

Cardio training should be a part of any fitness program.  It increases VO2max (maximum amount of oxygen consumption used by your lungs), increases blood flow to muscles, reduces cardiovascular disease, improves body composition, and increases resting metabolism.  But, what if I told you that shorter-duration, higher-intensity interval training can accomplish these benefits and improve fat-burning better than steady-state cardio.

Point 1
One of the primary barriers to exercise is lack of time, so why engage in a 30-60 minute cardio session when a 15-20 minute interval training routine can rev up your metabolic engine?  Furthermore, won't this help free up some time for strength training?  Indeed!

Point 2
If you want to lose fat, you gotta do lots and lots of cardio, right?  Sadly, the promoters of the "fat-burning zone" and "steady-state cardio" have sabotaged far too many fat-burning efforts.  The premise that you must reach a minimum of 20 minutes and remain within a certain heart rate zone to burn fat calories falls short of logic. 

Let us first examine a quick study on interval training.

Australian researchers, Trapp & Boutcher, put WOMEN through a 15-week study where one group performed intervals (20 minutes of alternating sprints and recovery), and the other group performed 40 minutes of slow cardio. 

The interval group lost 2.5kg (5.5lbs) of fat in 15 weeks on average (with one subject losing 7.7kg (16.9lbs) of fat), while the slow cardio group lost only 0.4kg (.88lbs) of fat over 15 weeks on average.

Total post-caloric impact (or afterburn) of the activity is the key, not whether fat or glucose is burned as energy during the event.  Calories burned during exercise, though a consideration, is a distant second to the overall metabolic impact following exercise.  Fat-loss expert, Alywn Cosgrove, defines it asEPOC, Excess Post Oxygen Consumption.  

As intensity increases, so doth the need for more oxygen in recovery, and with it, an increase in fat burning to fuel that recovery.  Translation: elevated fat-burning for hours following exercise. 

Make it a great day!