I am all for people with the motivation to go to the gym each day and spend an hour or two in there, I think it’s great.
What I don’t like though is the thought that some of these people could be wasting their time due to the way they train.
Obviously they aren’t wasting their time when compared to someone stuffing their face on the couch at home but in terms of trying to get results, particularly fat loss they could be spending their time a lot better.
I need to just point out I’m not having a go at these people whatsoever I just want to give these people some advice which will help to improve their results and give them more time to do the things they like.
So what am I getting at?
I am talking mainly about cardio exercise and mainly long, continuous, steady pace cardio. This type of training is great for improving your fitness, health and releasing stress.
If you are trying to lose weight and fat this is the wrong way to go about it.
I see so many people who go to the gym 4-6 times a week and do long cardio stay the same shape, plus this type of training can also eat away at your muscle stores. (Compare a sprinter with a long distance runner).
Side note: If you eat bad when you are at home it doesn’t really matter what you do in training as you will struggle to achieve good results without a good diet. For the purpose of this article I will talk about someone with a healthy diet.
A typical session would be 10 min warm up on the cross trainer, 20-30 mins on the treadmill (same pace), 10 minutes on the rower, 15 mins on the bike and then another 10 mins on the cross trainer to cool down. The session has gone over an hour all ready and that’s with no resistance training.
I believe that you can cut your workout time in half and double your results.
It’s all about intensity, forget about the fat burning zone.
You’ll burn more calories, make more fitness improvements and feel like you’ve worked harder if you halve the workout time and double the intensity.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is becoming all the rage, it doesn’t just apply to traditional cardio (bike, rower, treadmill etc.) you can do this with anything e.g. insanity training, circuit training, crossfit.
HIIT is basically high intensity with low rest. Sessions can typically last anywhere from 10-30mins and I guarantee you will feel absolutely worked!
On numerous occasions with my workouts have I been on my knees after a 20-30min intense session.
Your fitness is measured by your aerobic capacity AKA your VO2 Max. Training at 90% of your VO2 max is the best way to improve your fitness, long steady cardio doesn’t get close to hitting 90% most of the time. A sprints session, hill climbs or circuit training session will.
People get stuck in their ways and up until maybe the last 10-15 years long steady state cardio was believed to be the best way to burn fat and lose weight. Now more and more people are coming round to the idea of HIIT shorter sessions being the best way to increase fitness and burn fat.
When you stop doing a long steady run you will stop burning calories, when you stop a HIIT session you can keep burning calories for up to another 24-48 hours. It is amazing for boosting your metabolism and burning the fat.
If you are reading this and are thinking I’m not fit enough, or I’m too old to do intense training and sprints or even you are thinking this is crap then just try it once a week and see how you get on.
Say you are doing your normal cardio sessions 4 times a week, try one intense session and see how you feel and after a few weeks see if your results has improved.
The perception may be that this is for young people but it isn’t.
If you normally run at speed 6 on the treadmill for 30 minutes why don’t you try 1 minute at speed 8, 30s at speed 5 and keep it going for 15 minutes.
If you normally train in the weights room for an hour and do 3 x 12 reps of every muscle group with a minutes rest between each set, mix it up.
Try doing 2 exercises back to back and then rest (push and pull works well) so do your chest press and follow it up with a row. You can stick to the same exercises but just by doing them back to back you will have increased the intensity, increased the amount of muscle building hormones and knocked 20-30 mins off your workout time. Sound good?
There are studies and studies to back up that shorter more intense workouts are better for burning fat than slow cardio, especially belly fat which most people are concerned about.
My sessions will rarely last over 40 minutes.
I love exercising but I would take a 30min session over a 60min session every time, I would love to have more time to socialise, spend time with my family etc. so cutting down your workout time will allow this.
Once you get to a certain level of fitness the long cardio can get a bit easy (not to mention boring), adding some intensity to your training program can really turn it on its head.
Have a look at your gym at the class timetable for some intense group classes to give you an idea. Things like circuit training, spin, kettlebells are great. They will all be high intensity with short periods of rest.
Don’t spend 5+ hours in the gym every week and get nowhere.
Get in, get out, get fit and lose fat just by upping the intensity of your cardio and resistance training.
If you are happy with just going through the motions with your exercise then this isn’t for you. This exercise hurts, it’ll make you feel weak, tired and sick.
I must also say that high intensity training isn’t for beginners you should build up a decent level of fitness before starting to train like this.
So let’s not slog ourseleves to death with hours and hours a week on the treadmill make the changes I’ve mentioned and free up some time and dramatically boost your results.
Any questions you have on this topic please comment below.
Jamie ‘High Intensity’ Stedman
PS Looking for a beginners guide to High intense training, check out my fast fitness packages here.