Fat loss is highly sought after by...pretty much everyone.
Even if you’re super fit and muscular, when you’re coming to the end of a bulk, you need to cut fat right? How else are you gonna show off those hard-earned gains?
This is where cardio can be your golden ticket.
In fact, it's remarkably more difficult to burn fat without cardio. I mean, in my experience, it certainly takes much longer at the very least.
Lame, fam. I want my fat loss now.
And you can get it sooner, if you're doing the right kind.
If you choose the wrong type of cardio, you could end up burning through more muscle than fat and this could be a nightmare during a cut, where muscle preservation is the forgotten objective of a cutting cycle.
So, what's the right type to help you meet your goals?
The Best Fat-Blasting Type of Cardio
The basic laws of exercise say that, the longer and more intense exercise is, the sooner your body switches from burning fat to burning glycogen, or the stored sugars and fuel in your body. This is not the answer we want from reading this article.
However, high intensity interval training (or HIIT) can help you overcome this phenomenon to switch to burning body fat.
This is because these types of workouts are mega intense, but not long, which is also a plus if you’re a busy person.
There are numerous studies that show that short, but intense, exercise burns more body fat than moderate-low intensity exercise over a longer duration, or steady-state cardio.
Basically, 20 minutes of HIIT burns about the same number of calories as 45 minutes of something like speed walking on a treadmill.
Also, the “afterburn” (or calories you burn after exercise) is double with HIIT than with steady-state cardio.
The Best Way to Use HIIT for Fat Loss
Incorporating HIIT into your exercise routine doesn’t have to be daunting or complicated.
Doing plyometric and powerful movements such as box jumps, jump squats, or medicine ball throws are all excellent due to the use of your biggest muscle groups (located in the legs and butt) which use the most energy.
This is why you’re so dead after leg day.
However, if you're looking for a simpler way or the gym is just always packed as hell, high intensity interval training can also be accomplished using the treadmill, stairclimber or the elliptical. Work out at a comfortable, but moderate, pace for about 2 minutes, turn up the intensity to almost your maximum rate of exertion for two minutes and alternate back and forth for 20 minutes total.
There are also settings on most machines called “intervals” which will take you through a HIIT style workout.
Another fantastic benefit to HIIT is that you get cardio conditioning which makes your heart more efficient. Basically, you get more fit in the sense that you don’t get nearly as winded going up that flight of stairs at work anymore and workouts that used to just kill you seem like cake after a while.
However, because HIIT takes a big toll on your body, steady state cardio does have its uses, such as when you’re sick or injured.
The bottom line?
Engaging in 20-30 minutes of HIIT for a minimum of 3 times a week is a strong recommendation for losing fat. Also, though, incorporating weight training at least twice a week along with HIIT will put you at optimal calorie burn.
As a final note, cardio will help you to burn fat, but remember: Exercise can’t burn off bad eating habits. If you are not eating healthful foods or in a calorie deficit, neither fat nor weight loss will occur, no matter what kind of exercise you’re doing.
If you want to learn how to lose fat the right way, check out my program The Athlete's Method.