Wednesday, August 6, 2008

5 Best Fat Burning Interval Workouts

5 Best Fat Burning Interval Workouts
By: Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

Long, slow cardio is not the fastest way to burn fat. Research shows that
short interval training workouts burn belly fat faster.

I was one of the first trainers to question long, slow cardio for fat loss
back in the late 1990's and I believe that traditional cardio is over-rated.

Interval training, or interval "cardio" if you want to call it that, is
much, much better for fat loss. It burns belly fat in half the workout time.

I figured this out just before the year 2000. Back in 1998-99, I was but a
lowly grad student, studying the effects of androstenedione (the supplement
taken by the mighty baseball player, Mark McGwire during his record-breaking
home run quest in '98).

In my study (which was published in the Canadian Journal of Applied
Physiology for any science nerds like myself out there), we had guys use the
supplement and go through a couple of weight training sessions. By February
of '99 I was stuck in the lab, analyzing the blood samples using some fancy
radio-active isotopes.

And when I say stuck in the lab, I mean STUCK. I'd get there at 7am, and
record my last data point at 11pm. Sixteen hours of mad science. And if I
wasn't there, I was downstairs in the medical library, studying papers on
testosterone and training.

Now coming from a very athletic background, this sedentary lifestyle didn't
sit well with me. But there I was, studing for a degree in Exercise
Physiology and left with no time for exercise. Or so I thought.

Fortunately, I actually had a 50 minute window once per day of "down-time"
while the lab's gamma-counter analyzed blood samples.

That left me 50 minutes to get to the gym (5 minutes across campus) and get
a workout in the remaining 40 or so minutes. I knew that if I applied my
studies to the workout, I could get maximum results in minimum time.

As a former athlete, I knew that I had to find a way to stay fit and to
avoid the fat gain that comes with working long hours in a sedentary
environment. And I also had to stay true to the high-school bodybuilder I
once was, so there was no way I was willing to sacrifice my muscle to one of
those long-cardio, low protein fat-loss plans that were popular at the time.

Instead, I had to draw on my academic studies and my experiences working
with athletes as the school's Strength & Conditioning Coach. I knew that
sprint intervals were associated with more fat loss than slow cardio, and I
knew that you could also increase aerobic fitness by doing sprints (but you
can't increase sprint performance by doing aerobic training).

So clearly, intervals were (and ARE!) superior to long slow cardio for fat
loss. I had seen first hand the incredible results of sprint intervals in
the summer and fall, as the athletes made huge fitness improvements and shed
winter fat in a short time using my interval programs. I knew that intervals
had to be the next step in the evolution of cardio.

The biggest benefit of intervals? A lot of results in a short amount of
time. I knew that I only had 40 minutes to train, and therefore I could only
spend 15-20 minutes doing intervals.

I also understand that interval training sounds intimidating to a lot of
people, so I need to clear up how an interval training workout goes.

After all, I believe everyone can do interval training for fat burning. Even
beginners. For beginners who usually exercise for 30 minutes at 3.5 mph on
the treadmill, their interval workout would be to go for 1 minute at 3.8mph
and then recover for 2 minutes at 3.0 mph. That's it. Repeat 6 times. If you
are more advanced, you would use more intense exercise.

Interval training doesn't have to be sprinting for your life. It just needs
to start off harder than normal and progress from there.

Most folks hate cardio, so they are happy to use interval training as an
effective replacement to lose stomach fat. Here is my list of preferred ways
to do your intervals, ranked in order from best to worst, based on my

1. Sprinting outdoors (Hill sprinting might be the absolute best method)
2. Kettlebell exercises
3. Bodyweight interval circuits
4. Treadmill running
5. Stationary cycle (upright cycling preferred over recumbant bike)

With those 5 Turbulence Training interval training methods, you'll burn fat
fast and never have to do cardio again!

About the Author

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit

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