As with most of my Primal Body Program, the secret to fat loss isn’t really a secret at all. In fact, we’ve had the knowledge for a while now. People just haven’t been widely practicing it; they haven’t been using it correctly.
What, you may be asking, is ‘it’ exactly?
I’m talking about the use of intervals in high intensity interval training (HIIT). It is the fastest way to burn fat while improving cardiovascular fitness, according to the latest research. And even better, it’s easily applicable to any form of exercise, be it running, walking, biking, swimming, or strength training.
For me, I like to use intervals when I train at the Santa Barbara Community College’s track. On the weekends, you can find me sprinting up the bleachers as fast as I can for 15-20 seconds, and then resting for about two minutes. I repeat this process ten times – it’s exhilarating, energizing, and the view isn’t so bad either!
In order to translate the core concept of HIIT into my studio workouts with my clients, I have designed programs that use resistance exercises in an interval fashion. It’s similar to my weekend interval workouts, only it uses a different approach. In the studio, we burn fat while we build muscle. For example, we incorporate kettlebells, dumbbells, and bodyweight exercises into circuits, ultimately increasing our metabolism and building muscle. This method is called metabolic resistance training (MRT).
So, where does interval training come from?
For years, we’ve all heard that if you want to lose fat you need to spend endless hours on a treadmill or riding a bike. But thanks to new discoveries in cardiovascular training, that’s no longer the case. It has now been found that intervals (short bursts of get-out-of-breath sprints) are superior to aerobics (long, slow distance training) for fat loss and conditioning.
These studies also confirm what we now understand about our ancestors and what I write about in my 2013 health and fitness book, Your Primal Body. Our primal ancestors performed activities of varying intensities, not just the low intensity form of aerobics that has been popular for so many years. Of course, it was their ability to perform high intensity movements that kept them in the evolutionary race.
That’s great, but how does it actually work? Better yet, why?
Interval training, while it has healthy and visible results on your body, is not merely external. Internally, interval training acts as a catalyst, driving vital chemical reactions. Thus, the three key reasons why intervals are so effective and useful to the way we exercise today include:
- Interval training stimulates your body to release “growth hormone,” or HGH. This hormone is responsible for height growth in children, but once you finish growing, it changes roles. HGH is the anti-aging hormone in adults; it signals the body to burn fat and grow muscle.
- Intervals also protect your muscles so you don’t use them for fuel. This type of training drives your muscles to exert a lot of force. So rather than use them for energy, your body burns more fat, thereby “sparing” your hard earned muscle. This effect is evident if you compare the physique of a top sprinter to that of a top marathon runner.
- Intervals increase your metabolic rate. Whenever you begin exercising your metabolism speeds up, and then it slows back down when you finish. But with interval training, your metabolism remains elevated, sometimes for as long as 24 hours; so you’re burning fat all day long! The same can not be said for aerobics – once you stop, your body returns to your normal resting metabolism.
As I mentioned above, and with these three benefits in mind, I design programs in my studio that incorporate the method of MRT. This hybrid form uses full-body exercises that are performed circuit-style in an interval fashion. With MRT, you alternate high intensity, all-out bursts of movement with short periods of rest, leaving little time for recovery. These workouts are intense and short, unlike cardio workouts that go on forever and are so often deadly boring.
By incorporating MRT, and other forms of interval training into your workouts, you will soon find that exercising doesn’t have to be an all day pursuit. These fast paced workouts allow your body to get the exercise it needs, while also allowing you to have time in your day for other responsibilities. Exercising shouldn’t be put off just because you don’t have time in your day to do it – with interval training you do!