Fitness Training to Burn Fat; Work Smarter, Not Harder

I think many of us do not do fitness training because they perceive they don’t have time. NOT true. If you’re looking to burn fat, you need to exercise smarter.

This will not be the first time I have posted about short-burst aerobic activity.  As a matter of fact, this topic has been coming up again and again in the medical literature and continues to show benefits above and beyond sustained aerobic exercise.  And really–in today’s society, who the heck has 45 minutes to spare?  I could almost crank out a blog post in this amount of time…

What seems to constitute short burst aerobic activity?  Depends on the study, but they’re all similar:

  1. 10 – 30 second bursts on an exercise bike at 90% maximal rate
  2. 4-6 sets of 30 second bursts on an exercise bike
  3. 3 sets of 12 – 30 second bursts at 50% maximal rate with a one minute break

Overall, I think you get the idea.  For someone like me, who has a hard time staying focused for more than about 30 seconds at a time, this is just about perfect.

This particular study takes a slightly different angle on the short burst aerobic exercise story.  Here are the details:

  • 18 boys (aged 8-12), of which nine were overweight and nine normal weight boys
  • On 3 separate mornings these boys performed cycling exercises
  • 2 groups: 30 min of continuous cycling or sprint interval (continuous cycling with four-second maximal sprints every two minutes)
  • Exercise was followed by a buffet-like breakfast to measure post-exercise energy intake

So basically, both groups were doing the 30 minute cycling, but 1/2 the boys kicked up the pace for a mere 4 seconds every 2 minutes.  For the math challenged out there, that’s about 1 total minute of higher level exercise.

So what were the results from this 1 minute of faster cycling?

  • Fat burning was similar between both types of exercise
  • However, the interval group burned more calories but did NOT eat more at breakfast
  • The kids noted that they preferred the interval training more and did not find it any harder

So, basically, same time frames, same perceived level of exertion, more enjoyable and more calories burned.  Sounds like a winning program to me.

So, after reading these blog posts on short burst aerobic activity, how have you changed your workouts?  Or, even better, have you started an exercise routine because you now understand that it doesn’t always have to be 45-60 minutes of continuous activity?

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.