Kati’s Fit Kit –
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Amp up your cardio with intervals!
In my last Fit Kit, I shared my story about how adding strength training to my exercise routine helped me lose stubborn body fat, and I promised to share about cardio training for fat loss next time. In case you missed it, you can read Part 1 here. After adding in strength training, the other change I made was to switch up my cardio training from “steady state” jogging, elliptical machine, and aerobics workouts to interval training.
Sometimes referred to as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), these types of workouts involve short periods of challenging activity followed by periods of either rest or lower intensity activity.
Here are some of the benefits of interval training:
1. Intense intervals keep your body burning fat after your workout longer than lower intensity aerobic training. During intense intervals, the body can’t get enough oxygen to the muscles, and an oxygen debt is created. This debt must be repaid later, resulting in your metabolism staying charged up for hours after your training is done.
2. Intense bursts stimulate muscle building hormones, encouraging your body to build and maintain lean muscle mass. Remember that lean muscle mass plays a large part in keeping your metabolism running fast.
3. Interval training will develop your cardiovascular ability and strengthen your heart.
There are lots of ways to add interval training to your workout routine, and the interval can vary depending on the exercises you are doing. If you are new to doing interval work, a good way to start is with an “on the minute” workout where you will perform an exercise at the top of each minute at a challenging pace for 15 seconds, and rest/recover for 45 seconds (1:3 work to rest ratio). Other interval options include doing equal work to rest like a 30 seconds work/30 seconds rest interval (1:1) or double work to rest like the popular Tabata protocol of 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest (2:1).
How challenging the exercise is will help in determining what your intervals will be. Some exercise examples that work well for interval training are doing sprints with an easy jog or walk as recovery, kettlebell ballistic exercises like swings, jump rope, and bodyweight exercises like burpees or squats etc.
A great way to make sure you are also getting a full body workout with your interval training is to do a circuit of several different exercises that include working large muscle groups and different movement patterns – like the Metabolic Burn classes we do at Breakthrough. Not to mention that doing your intervals with friends will keep you more motivated to keep going strong, and is way more fun!
If you have a fat loss goal, your exercise priorities should be strength training 2 to 3 times per week, and interval training 1 to 2 times per week. If you have more time for exercise in your week, add in whatever activities you love to do – hiking, yoga, boxing, dance classes – have fun with it!
Of course nutrition is the biggest game changer when it comes to fat loss, and recovery is also hugely important no matter what your fitness goals are… Topics we will explore in next month’s Fit Kit. In the meantime, enjoy getting sweaty with your intervals!
Strength and love!