Most people are well aware of the importance of performing cardiovascular exercise (cardio) with regards to overall health and burning body fat. It is this latter benefit, namely fat loss, that keep individuals engaged in cardio, also known as aerobics.
Unfortunately, cardio cannot only be quite boring, but also time consuming. This creates a situation where it is difficult to maintain and follow a regimented aerobic exercise routine. Too many of us are under the illusion that long bouts of low intensity workouts on the exercise bike, treadmill, or elliptical trainer are what are required to get results. Recent research tells us otherwise.
The ultimate method for burning off that unwanted body fat is short bouts of high intensity training. Studies indicate that high intensity aerobic training can be up to 50% more efficient than low intensity exercise. High intensity training has the added benefit of speeding up the metabolism so that the fat burning effects can be maintained long after the workout has terminated.
An excellent program to incorporate the benefits of high intensity aerobic training would be to perform two to four 20 minute sessions per week. These 20 minute sessions are an opportunity to challenge yourself to give it an all-out effort. The training itself is similar to interval training where you gradually increase the intensity of the effort over specified timed intervals.
First of all select the particular form of cardio that you would like to do. Walking, using the stationary bike, jogging, using a treadmill and so on will all work well as long as you can vary the intensity. Then you must work out a personal intensity index for that exercise. Use a scale from 1 to 10 where 5 is a light effort that takes no strain and 10 is an all-out effort.
Keep in mind that the intensity of an exercise is solely based on your perception. For example, sprinting may take an experienced trainer to level 10 but if you haven’t run in years it will only hurt you. A fast walk may be your level 10. Everyone is different and the key is to establish your own intensity levels, remembering to also challenge yourself within your limits.
The session begins with a 2 minute warm-up phase at level 5. Then kick it up a notch to level 6 for 1 minute and then increase the intensity to level 7 for 1 minute, followed by taking up to level 8 for 1 minute and finally ending the first intensity interval with a minute at level 9, which should be just below your best effort. By the way, you may want to invest in a stopwatch to assist you in timing your intervals.
After you finish the minute at level 9, take it down to level 6 and repeat the process again twice. Using 1 minute intervals go up to level 9 and then back down to level 6. Here is the key: after you complete the third interval, between the 18th and 19th minutes of the session, take it up to level 10 for your absolute best effort for 1 minute. After this take it down to level 5 for a cool-down and that’s it – you’re finished!
This is a very quick and productive cardio session. Try to challenge yourself and hit that level 10 with increased intensity each time you do it. This is known as a “high point”. Tell yourself that you are going to hit that high point today and it will be great. Do this regularly and you will continue to make progress in your efforts.
You can also vary the type of aerobics you choose to further prevent boredom and injury. One day you may choose to jog and the next session you could cycle. It’s up to you. Try to choose exercises you enjoy. This will maintain your interest.
To further enhance the fat burning effects of these high intensity sessions, try performing them first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Studies have found that when you exercise in a fasted state fat is burned much faster so be sure to see if this works for you.
High intensity interval training is a quick and efficient method for realizing the benefits of cardiovascular exercise. It will work especially well if your goal is to lose body fat. Remember to follow a healthy diet and always check with your physician before embarking on a new exercise regimen.
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