Short burst cardio sessions will burn fat and sculpt your body in less time. There is evidence to show that slow, long, steady-state cardio sessions (like 60 minutes) will waste away your precious muscle mass.
All calorie burning is good. Stay active even if it is walking 30 minutes a day. But, if you want to really burn the fat and sculpt your body, high intensity interval cardio training (HIIT) or high intensity cardio training (HIC) is the way to go. It only takes 20 minutes per session of this type of interval cardio exercise so you will save time and get the maximum benefit from your workout.
Traditional lower-intensity aerobic exercise on treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, etc. are good for beginners or those who have been inactive. Aerobic exercise is an activity that is done continuously for more than 2 straight minutes.
Research has proven that the heart-health benefits of anaerobic exercise (like sprint interval cardio, bodyweight exercise cardio or jump intervals) is superior to aerobic exercise for fat burning and heart health. The progression of exercise should be low-intensity aerobics to moderate-intensity aerobics to high-intensity anaerobic exercise.
Research at Duke University, directed by Dr. Cris Slentz, supports high-intensity exercise for better fat loss. The eight-month study showed that people could lose weight with exercise and no dieting. Those who exercised intensely (especially using interval training) lost much more fat than those who exercised moderately.
According to the research, the high-intensity exercisers had these advantages over the low-to-moderate intensity exercisers:
- more release of fat from cells
- more fat used as fuel during exercise
- increased metabolic rate after exercise
You should combine your cardio exercise (3 days a week) with 3 days a week of strength training to tone your body, speed up your metabolism and give you good bone health. Only doing cardio will not tone your body the way you want! And, don’t worry about “bulking up” too much. You would have to lift weights like a “mad woman” for that to happen!
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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES