If your goal is fat loss, it must be an all out war against the way you have previously been living. You must eat better and train harder than they probably ever have in order to reach their goals. One of the best methods, in addition to clean eating and resistance training, to battle the bulge is interval training. Interval training is simply periods of high intensity work periods interspersed with periods of rest and recovery. Just like any type of training, there are better ways to use intervals to maximize your fat burning. Here are four extremely important considerations when using interval training for fat loss.
Ramp Up the Intensity!
The main reason to use intervals is to increase the density of work output within your workout. Anaerobic or high intensity intervals accomplish this goal to a tee. Work duration (15 to 60 seconds) is lower and the work to rest ratio (1:1 to 1:4) is higher for anaerobic intervals compared to aerobic intervals (1 to 5 minutes and 1:1 or less). However, the concentration of burned calories in anaerobic intervals far exceeds those of the aerobic variety. In addition, the caloric cost of recovering after the workout is over is much higher for higher intensity intervals. Therefore, the higher the intensity of the intervals performed, the more calories that will be burned both during and after the workout.
This is not to say you should never use aerobic intervals. Aerobic intervals are important for those with very poor fitness who can’t handle higher intensity intervals and can also be used for extra work (two total hours of anaerobic intervals per week is the absolute upper limit) and recovery days.
Use Heart Rate To Determine Rest Time If You Are A Beginner!
Speaking of those with poor initial fitness levels, anaerobic intervals can be daunting and possibly even dangerous for this population. A great way to introduce high intensity intervals is to allow your own fitness levels to determine recovery time. Using a heart rate monitor or manually checking pulse, monitor your heart rate and simply begin the next interval when their heart rate reaches a predetermined level (110 to 120 beats per minute is typical). Also use a set ceiling of total time (I suggest starting at 20 to 30 minutes) for as a beginner to perform as many intervals as possible in this time frame. By using the body’s own physiological limits, you can ensure the quality of the training intervals (see consideration #1) and actually improve fitness at a faster rate as the workload is less likely to exceed capacity. This method should be used until you can consistently recover (heart rate getting below 110 to 120 beats per minute) before four times the interval duration.
The different variables that you can change to progress intervals are typically work duration, rest duration and number of intervals or total length of the session. In order to prevent injuries and overtraining, thus slowing or even halting results, it is best to progress these variables in a moderate manner. Only one, not each, of these variables should be increased a maximum of 10 to 20 percent per week. If your programming involves changing more than one variable, a maximum of 5 to 10 percent increase per week of each variable should be used. As consistency is the most important aspect to achieve sustainable and continuous results, increasing the heat of training intensity and volume should be a slow cooked process.
Constantly Change the How
Although the “what” of your interval training program (the sets, work duration and rest) should only differ minimally, the how that program is performed (exercises and movements used) must change on a daily or weekly basis. An adaptation that occurs with training is exercise economy, which means the energy needed to perform a certain activity will decrease with familiarity. This is the opposite of our aim with fat loss; instead we want our training to cost the most energy possible. Incessantly changing how you perform intervals from sprints to medicine ball slams to battle ropes, etc. will keep the energy cost at a daily maximum. This doesn’t mean once you do an activity or a certain workout, you can never perform it again; just take a couple week break adding it back into the rotation.
Along with nutrition and weight training, intervals are part of an effective fat burning program. To maximize your success these intervals should be high intensity using a variety of movements with as short of rest intervals as you can safely and effectively handle. This interval program must be progressed conservatively to ensure your overall health and readiness for the next workout in order to bring continued results. Fat loss is an unrelenting foe and understanding how to properly program intervals is a vital part of the fight.