If you were told that you could lose your stubborn belly fat by adding just a single hour of exercise to your regimen per week, what would your response be? Maybe:
– You’re crazy!
– Is this is another get-ripped-quick scheme?
Neither of the above! The answer is a specific kind of workout, one that is easy to map out and you can do almost anywhere: interval training. While it’s just one piece of the puzzle that will help you lose your belly fat, it’s a significant one and will make a big impact if you keep at it consistently.
Interval Training: How to Do it
Interval training can happen with any form of exercise as varied as swimming to running, cycling to running, calisthenics to climbing stairs. The principal is found in the way that the exercise is done which allows you to reap the benefits.
Rather than engaging in a long jog or bike ride (also known as steady state cardio), the core of interval training is focused on bouts of high intensity followed by a brief rest. Its common sense that you can’t sprint at maximum capacity forever, but by taking a break in-between sets, you allow your body sufficient time to recover in order to once again perform the exercise at a high intensity.
Start with a brief warm-up of 5 to 10 minutes of light exercise – this might be an easy jog, slow cycling, or even just a walk. Since interval training has bouts of much higher intensity, it’s essential for you to be properly warmed up to avoid injury.
After you are warmed up it is time to begin. Start with 30 seconds of very intense exercise – depending on what you’re doing, this could be a full on sprint, swimming or cycling as fast as you can, or climbing stairs at lightning speed. Everyone will have a different level of ability when it comes to this: the important part is simply pushing yourself as hard as you can. Whether that’s a fast walk or an Olympic-caliber sprint, you should be exercising beyond the point at which you can comfortably carry on a conversation. Interval training normally takes your heart rate up to 85% of its maximum capacity.
When your 30 seconds are up, you’ve done it! Now you should engage in ‘active rest’, where you continue to stay moving, such as a walk or slow jog. This should last around 60 seconds – be sure to take full, deep breaths when doing so. Repeat this (sprint 30 seconds, rest 60 seconds) anywhere from 4 to 10 times and finish up with another 5-minute cooldown (just as important when it comes to preventing injury).
Repeat this 20-minute session 3 times per week for a grand total of 1 hour. A simple 5-minute warm up and 5-minute cooldown, along with a 10-minute interval session sandwiched in-between, is all you need to access the benefits of interval training, which we’ll cover next.
How Interval Training Ties into Losing Belly Fat
During steady-state cardio, the amount of work you put in directly correlates to the number of calories you burn. And then it stops. After consistent interval training, however, your body continues to work even after your training is done. Consider a long jog versus 20 minutes of interval training: both may burn the same amount of calories, but the latter will contribute to an increased metabolism, helping you to burn calories for up to 48 hours after you do it.
Consider doing this type of training on a schedule similar to Monday / Wednesday / Friday, which will allow time for recovery while keeping you in a heightened state of calorie burning. If you’re an absolute beginner or want to ease into it, consider twice a week, or every 3 days.
Without getting into the heavy science behind it, interval training has huge benefits when it comes to nutrient-partitioning. Essentially, it will help the nutrients you consume become more efficient and aid in the process of building muscle; while when you burn calories, it will help it come from the right source (fat).
Rest, Recovery, and Sleep: Be Ready for Your Next Workout
Almost as important as the workout itself is the effort you put forth in recovering and being ready for your next one. Proper rest will allow your muscles to be ready for your next workout.
On the other hand, lack of sleep is linked to an increased level of the stress hormone cortisol. When you sustain high amounts of cortisol, from factors like lack of sleep or stress, it can have a number of negative benefits on your body. These range from digestive issues to headaches, and one of the major ones is weight gain. The simplest way to combat this is to ensure proper rest every single night, especially when you are taking on a new training regimen or increasing the intensity of an old one.
One Hour is All it Takes
Effective interval training consisting of three 20 minute sessions per week is the most effective way to start on your journey of eliminating stubborn belly fat. You save yourself from the mundane training that long, steady state cardio becomes while saving time to do other things. Whether you engage it at the gym, on the road, in a nearby field, or in the pool, interval training is key to helping you get in the best shape of your life. Combine it with an overall healthy lifestyle and you’ll be on your way to success in no time!