There is a common misconception that when it comes to exercise to lose weight, the number of calories burned is the only goal. The more calories you burn, the more weight you will lose.
Research is now showing that rather than just the number of calories burned during exercise, the key is the number of calories burned over a unit of time. In other words, the real key to losing weight is the difference between your basal metabolic rate and your level of activity. When you incorporate vigorous exercise into your fitness regime this difference can become quite substantial.
Exercising vigorously not only burns immediate calories but helps to stimulate your metabolism to burn calories up to 8 hours after you have stopped exercising, something that exercise such as jogging and walking does not do.
There is also increasing evidence from years of research that shows that shorter bursts of exercise with rest periods in between, known as interval training or high intensity interval training, is one of the most effective ways to exercise for weight loss. This type of exercise results in more fat being burned and it can actually increase your body’s ability to burn fat. Another advantage of this type of exercise is that it is much more efficient than other forms. You only need about two to three 30 minute interval training sessions per week.
So, for the most efficient, fat burning exercise regime, incorporate interval training with cardio training such as high speed walks, bike rides, skipping, sport. For even more fat burning potential, do the exercise before breakfast. Your body will then burn up to twice as much body fat, since you have not eaten for 6 – 10 hours.
So, you now know that high intensity interval training is the best way to exercise for weight loss, but how do you do it?
This type of exercise is best done on a treadmill, because you can more easily control and monitor the speed, and because of the shock absorption of the treadmill, it is gentler on joints, tendons and ligaments but for those who have weakness in knees or ankles, an exercise bike is a good substitute.
Firstly, power walk for 10 minutes. The following techniques should be used.
- Stand tall, with shoulders back
- Make sure your heels hit the tread first
- Take long strides
Walk at a comfortable pace with 0 degrees incline (this is your baseline) and increase the speed by 0.15km every minute.
After 10 minutes, bring the speed back down to what it was when you started (your baseline) and get off the treadmill.
Stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, inner thigh and calf muscles.
After stretching, it is time to start your first challenge:
- Increase the speed by 0.8km/hour and set the incline to 1.5 degrees.
- 60 second power walk using the same technique as previously used for the power walk
- Follow with a 30 second jog with the speed increased by 3 km/hour. Reduce the impact on joints by bouncing off the balls of your feet and lean forward.
- Then a 15 second sprint, same speed as the jog. Imitate a sprint by pulling your knees up high and tensing the muscles in your upper body.
After your 15 second sprint, get off the treadmill, reduce the speed to your baseline and walk, a nice and slow walk, for the recovery phase. When your breathing is back to normal, and your energy levels are back up, continue with another challenge. Do not do the next challenge until you are ready.
At each challenge, increase the increment by 0.5 degrees and the speed by 0.15 km/hour
Incorporate another 4 – 8 challenges, with the recovery walk in between. Remember to bring down the speed to your baseline and the increment to 0 degrees for the recovery walk and then increase the incline and speed for each challenge.
If your fitness level is not very high, make sure you start off slowly. Just do 2 or 3 challenges until you fitness levels are up.
- Firstly warm up for 3 minutes
- Ride as hard and fast as you possibly can for 30 seconds. You should feel like you can’t go on for even another second. It should be hard to breathe and talk and your muscles should be burning.
- Recover for 90 seconds with a very slow ride
- Repeat the high intensity ride and recovery 7 more times
This is a more extreme form of exercise, so you need to be very mindful of your fitness level and don’t overdo it when you start out. If you are not very fit, start out with 2 or 3 repetitions and work your way up to eight.
For more information on interval training and a video showing exactly how the treadmill exercise is done, follow this link.
By Andrea Southern, Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist at Stafford and The Gap in Brisbane. For an appointment phone 0412 791 705