So how do we lose fat? It’s very simple, we must spend more calories then we eat. There are 2 ways to deal with this: we can either change our training, diet or both. You can do both but i highly recommend that you just change one, changing both diet and training might have negative impact on performance and takes years of experience to manage, and you must know your body well. If that is the case then you probably don’t have to read this, you already know what is best for your body, if not continue reading. Today i’ll focus on how we can change our training routine and incorporate different kinds of cardio workouts and what is the most effective way to get those six pack abs for you and with some insights from my personal training.
High intensity interval training (HIIT)
You probably read about HIIT in every magazine, website and weight loss brochure, trainers are recommending it for everyone as the most effective way of losing fat and getting fast results. You see a bunch of before – after photos, print your training routine, spend only 20 minutes and get better results then hours of cardio, so whats the catch.
Problem with HIIT training is that you have to be already in decent shape to perform it,
there’s a chance you might get injured and also what I found to be the biggest problem -recovery. After you do your leg workout, if you ddid a good job your body needs at least 72h to recover before attempting any cardio, problem is while you’r doing HIIT it delays your recovery so basically you can’t stack those 2 workouts together without sacrificing leg progress. I was faced with that problem sometimes and had to skip my entire leg workout for that week when i was doing 2 or 3 HIIT routines.
Also i had issues with hamstring pain and i think that too was due to recovery, once your muscles are sore they are likely to get injured, same goes for joints and tendons. Beside those negative effects HIIT is very effective, i was doing 20 minutes sprint 1 minute then rest 1 minute which gave some amazing results, you can actually feel the fat burn and your heart rate increased for entire day. Giving the ups and down of HIIT i would recommend you to do it only if you are in shape and to get to 1 digit body fat percentage, if you have above 15% body fat stay away from HIIT. Before HIIT workout you should eat a proper carbohydrate and protein meal, this type of workout uses glucose as fuel. To further avoid muscle catabolism you can also add BCAA supplements.
Steady pace cardio
This type of cardio is the typical runner/jogger you see in the park every day. Myth around this type of workout is that you burn extra calories from fat while ruining if you are constantly in the “Fat burn zone” which you enter when your heart beats at 60-65% of MHR (Maximum Heart rate). Workouts usually don’t last longer then 45 minutes. Down side of this workout is that you need some kind of Heart rate monitor and it takes twice as long as HIIT to burn less calories overall while boosting metabolism for just 2-3h after. I recommend my trainees to add 20 minutes of steady pace cardio on a bike machine or treadmill after every gym training.
After you done the gym workout you body has used up a lot of glucose reserves and it is more likely that energy for this steady pace cardio will come from burning fat. Compared to HIIT it does burn more fat directly but HIIT training is more effective with burning more calories in less time and also you also get the metabolism boostwhich burn fat for next 24h.
Fasted walking is probably the best method for directly burning body fat. For maximum results it should be done upon wake up and on an empty stomach, only thing i would drink is a dose of BCAA supplement mixed with water to avoid muscle catabolism. Why is this method so effective for direct fat burning? When you wake up your body has just fasted for 7-8h, energy reserves are nearly empty and insulin level in blood is very low, this state is ideal for body to start using stored fat as energy.
If you ever done fasted walking you probably noticed how the longer you walk the more energy you seem to have, this is fat burn kicking in, body has an adaptation period in which it starts to utilize fat for fuel. When you begin walking your body uses primarily glucose as fuel but since glucose reserves are depleted due to fasting while asleep body has no choice but to shift its metabolism and activate lyposis for fat burning.
This shift in exercise fuel choice for most individuals happens after 30-45 minutes of walking. As you can see, you need to walk at least 30 min to begin burning fat, and that is the main downside of this fat burning method, you need a minimum 2h of walking on an empty stomach to do some serious fat burn. I recommend this workout for anyone that has much spare time as its the least catabolic exercise and it’s nearly impossible to injure yourself while walking. Another benefit of this exercise is that it won’t prolong your gym recoverytime since the intensity is very low, also the stress on the joints and tendons is low so this workout.
How to choose a fat burning exercise depending on your current schedule
I will write down some guidelines so you can choose your type of exercise
High intensity interval training (Intervals up to 90% Max heart rate)
You are already in shape and just need to burn those last few percent of body fat. Recovery won’t be a problem, you are prepared to drop intensity on your leg workout if needed. Ideal for trainees with 9-12% body fat who plan on getting ripped under 8% body fat.
Steady state cardiovascular exercise (60-75% Max Heart Rate)
You are not entirely out of shape but endurance is a problem, also you maybe consider doing HIIT in the future after you prepare your body with steady cardio. You also have heart rate monitor equipment and know what is your target Fat burn zone heart rate. Ideal for trainees with 12-15% body fat who are looking to get some endurance while also burning fat.
Fast walking (Up to 55% Max Heart Rate)
You are out of shape, body fat levels are above 15% and you have a lot of spare time. This method is ideal for you, once you hit below 15% body fat you can do steady cardio and build up some endurance.
As you see there is no clear winner here, all depends on your goal and current physique. Choose your method wisely and good luck with getting those six pack abs.