The world has slowed down recently and created the perfect opportunity for many to form new, healthy habits. One question we always get, however, is which form of exercise is the most effective for fat loss. With (the current) limited access to gyms, and our tendency to jump on the latest trends, we wanted to break down the different types of cardio you can do from home, and which one is the best to burn away those calories- fast!
Steady State (Long Distance) Running
There is no denying that distance runners have developed some incredible adaptations and often have very little body fat. Our ability to travel long distances on foot, and quickly, was once necessary and desirable. However, distance runners/endurance trainers also tend to have very little muscle mass, and for most people, the increase in injuries often outweighs the benefits that you hope to attain.
Research has shown that running for more than 30 minutes 3 times or more per week actually has little impact on cardiovascular improvement. But does it help with fat loss? Over time, long-distance running will see you burn energy, which in turn can burn fat. However, this is typically only when your diet is calorie deficient, and in order to provide our bodies with enough energy to run long distances, we tend to consume more. As a result, our food intake ends up balancing the energy we burn, and can actually result in losing muscle mass as opposed to fat loss.
Interval training is a shorter, sharper form of cardiovascular training. Generally, it refers to sprint training and alternates between bursts of energy followed by a period of active rest or recovery. For example, your interval training circuit may look like this:
- Sprint 50 metres (burst)
- 200-metre jog (active rest)
- 100-metre walk
- 50-metre sprint
- 4 minutes rest
- Repeat 4 circuits
The main benefits of interval training for fat loss come in the ability to engage both our aerobic (cardiovascular) and anaerobic (muscular) fitness. Our aerobic fitness uses oxygen to convert carbohydrates into energy and allows us to walk or run long distances. This is what most people refer to as ‘fitness.’
By targeting/increasing our cardiovascular endurance (VO2 max) we are able to increase the body’s ability to manage these periods of rest/ active rest, and can, therefore, increase their intensity over time.
On the other hand, the short sharp bursts of power used in sprinting or jumping take our body closer to the anaerobic training zone. This is more effective for fat loss as it uses stored energy (from carbohydrates, and then fat) to produce high energy movements. By combining the two, you are able to attain the fat loss benefits of exercise in a shorter time period.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Similar to interval training, HIIT training combines short periods of high-intensity activity with active rest. The main differences are the intensity, the rest, and the types of exercise. Where interval training may give you 4 minutes rest between circuits, and be dominated by sprints or high-intensity cardio, HIIT training may use weights or other resistance, cut the rest time down to 30 seconds, or the rest itself may be continuous movement, rather than complete rest.
Where steady-state running is designed to increase our endurance and lung capacity, physiologically, HIIT training is designed to keep your heart rate at or above 80% (generally for 20-30 minutes).
By raising the intensity during HITT training, you can obtain more of the physical benefits (such as fat loss) in a shorter period of time. It also leads to improved performance in all workouts- regardless of the type. This is largely due to the activation of the aerobic and anaerobic systems.
When we look more specifically at HITT training for fat loss, high-intensity interval training:
- Can increase the ‘afterburn.’ This is putting your body into a state which burns more calories after your workout. In order for your body to return to its normal state, it will burn more energy in recovery after a HITT workout than it will after a lower intensity workout.
Known as post-exercise oxygen consumption, this stabilising feature of the body can burn between 6-15% of your total energy consumption from exercise! It also means that the harder you train during your workout, the more calories you’ll burn in recovery. If this is combined with a calorie deficient diet it can be an effective way to lose fat.
- In young women, HIIT training has been “associated with significant reductions in total body fat, subcutaneous leg and trunk fat, and insulin resistance in young women.”
Not only is this form of exercise more effective at reducing total body fat, but it also improves insulin sensitivity. This helps your body to convert glucose into energy to be used during exercise and throughout the day, instead of converting these sugars into fat to be stored in the body.
Fat loss Isn’t Just About Cardio
There’s no denying that HITT training is the most effective for fat loss. Whilst it can be hard to measure some of the outcomes, the efficiency of training at a higher intensity for a shorter amount of time will, at the least, give you the results you’re after in a shorter amount of time. Combining a HITT workout routine with resistance (weights) training and a balanced nutrition plan have also been shown to be the most effective way to lose fat, whilst maintaining muscle and improving your fitness.
Of course, there are drawbacks to training at such high intensities. In our quest for tighter tummies, we have a tendency to overtrain, which can lead to injuries and exhaustion. Moreover, if you are combining this type of training with the wrong nutrition plan, it could also lead to your body entering ‘starvation mode’ and storing more fat, as opposed to burning it.
Therefore, the best way to obtain all of the fat-burning benefits of HITT training is to incorporate it into a personalized, and focused health and wellness plan. This way you ensure that you do not jump in too quickly, can maintain high levels of intensity and physical activity safely, and do it in a way that is designed to suit you!
At Turnfit, we have decades of collective experience in training and nutrition plans, to make sure that you can maximize your results in the safest way possible. Research has also confirmed that using a personal trainer is the most effective way to reach your health and wellness goals, and it doesn’t even have to be in person!
With the Turnfit app, you not only have a personal trainer in your pocket, but you also have access to our wide range of programs and packages to suit your needs. With personalised training sessions, one-on-one video coaching calls, fitness trackers, nutrition plans and a huge amount of free content, improving your fitness while losing fat has never been easier!
To help kick start summer, we’re also offering your first month of training, and a video assessment (normally valued at $150) absolutely free, with no obligations. After that, if you would like to make a long term commitment to your health we can help you to find a package that suits your needs, or customise them as needed.
For those who are more serious about their training, or want to maximise their fat loss in a safe and healthy way, we also have an elite training package. This is for clients who require more focused and personalized training regiments. With regular video coaching calls and completely customised training and nutrition plans, the elite package also includes health and wellness coaching, covering mindfulness and meditation, goal setting and more.
How Can I Join The Turnfit Family?
If you’re ready to lose fat, boost your energy levels and improve your fitness, you’re only one step away!
Click here to learn more about our packages, and choose the one which best suits your needs. We will send you an invite to download the Turnfit app and set up a time to complete your FREE video assessment call.
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For more information about our programs or packages, or about any of our resources please don’t hesitate to reach out and connect:
We’re always available to help you improve your health and fitness goals!
About Turnfit Personal Trainers
Turnfit Personal Trainers is founded by David Turnbull or “Coach David” – an experienced and successful Personal Trainer who strives to build happier, healthier lives every day.
With a focus on holistic health, we pride ourselves on making a difference and were recently awarded the 2019 Top Choice Award for Personal Trainer in Vancouver.
Every trainer at Turnfit is committed and relentless in our pursuit to help you reach your health and wellness goals. It’s our mission to help you to build the skills, and mindset, it takes to feel successful in all areas of your life.
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