The Best Form of Cardio for Fat Loss
Unless you are someone who likes going for long ass jogs every day spending at least 40 minutes to an hour of jogging in the hopes of losing your gut, there is no point in jogging when your goal is weight loss. People may argue but HIIT (high intensity interval training) is the best form of cardio for fat loss.
I always had the notion that going for long runs 4 or 5 days a week was the best way to drop fat and look lean. While this might seem like the smart thing to do, it just simply isn’t.
Going for jogs (also called steady state cardio) is much less effective in losing fat compared to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio.
I’m sure you’ve seen the people at the gym who run on the treadmill the whole time they are there. Day in and day out you see them only to notice that they are making little to no progress at all. Those cardio machines always show you fancy looking statistics telling you how many calories you have burned off.
While doing steady-state cardio does in fact, burn calories and help you lose fat, the main difference is HIIT cardio actually helps you lose fat WHILE YOU ARE RESTING. This is a crucial concept when it comes to fat loss.
Several studies have proven that performing shorter, high-intensity cardio produces a greater fat loss result OVER TIME as compared to long, lower-intensity cardio sessions.
To name just a few reasons as to why HIIT cardio trumps low intensity cardio when it comes to fat loss:
- increases your body’s metabolism for 24 hours after HIIT training – this means you will be losing fat even after your HIIT session.
- post work out appetite suppression – try doing sprints then eating something afterwards, you simply won’t be in the mood.
- an increase in growth hormone and testosterone – this majorly effects your body’s fat loss by producing chemicals that induce fat mobilization.
- improved insulin sensitivity in your muscles – if you’ve ever eaten a lot of carbs and felt tired afterwards, this is due to insulin RESISTANCE. Doing HIIT training will aid your body in metabolizing carbohydrates more efficiently which helps you feel more ENERGETIC after eating big meals.
All of those key points mean that performing HIIT cardio (sprints) will help you burn MORE fat in LESS time as compared to steady-state cardio (jogging).
If I haven’t sold you on the idea that HIIT cardio trumps steady-state cardio, there’s more to it…
HIIT Training and Muscle Growth
Time and time again we are reminded that doing too much cardio is detrimental to your muscle strength and growth.
To put it in comparison, imagine the body of a sprinter as compared to the physique of a distance runner. You will notice that there is a HUGE difference. The sprinter’s body has well defined muscle definition and many times with protruding abs. Now imagine the body of a distance runner. They are flat and many times look sickly. This is no coincidence.
This is because different muscles are being used from an anaerobic system to an aerobic system.
Another good comparison is actually comparing animals in the animal kingdom to put it into perspective:
If you look at a tiger, it has a naturally strong and dense frame. The tiger walks around slowly all day creeping around waiting to hunt for its prey. And what does it do when the tiger has finally locked its eyes on something? The tiger gives 110% and full on sprints towards its prey to capture its food.
Let’s compare the tiger to a gazelle. The gazelle has nowhere NEAR as much muscle definition as a tiger. And why is that? Because it runs around all day in a “steady-state”. Compared to the tiger that walks around slowly then sprints when it has to, a gazelle just briskly jogs around the earth in a steady pace.
So as you can tell, performing HIIT cardio is the best form of cardio for fat loss because you are giving your ALL for a brief period of time requiring you to use all your muscles at full capacity.
Research has shown and proven that cardio can produce a negative impact on your muscle growth and strength. Studies have also shown that the longer your cardio workouts last, the more muscle strength and growth you are losing. Meaning, the shorter your cardio workouts are, the more muscle you keep.
So what does this mean? Obviously, if you are trying to gain muscle and strength, you want to keep your cardio sessions short. And how is this possible? by doing HIIT training.
As mentioned above, HIIT training is known to increase your testosterone. This means you are actually aiding your body in muscle growth (since we all know testosterone is directly correlated with muscle growth and strength).
What Is the Best Kind of HIIT Training?
Now this debate largely depends on your preference and like many things in the fitness industry, there is not just one right answer.
The fun thing about HIIT cardio is there are literally hundreds of ways to do it. If you go on YouTube and search for Brandon Carter, he has a ton of different videos with HIIT cardio that involves a lot of abdominal work.
I know several people who like to do HIIT cardio with a stationary bike or actually going outside and cycling.
So what’s my recommendation? Sprints.
I don’t know what about sprints I love so much. Maybe it’s the fact that I am giving it 110% and every single muscle in my body is working synergistically to move at fast speeds.. or maybe its just the fact that it increases my athletic performance in virtually every other movement that I perform. Whatever it is, if you have the physical capability to sprint, It is my #1 recommendation.
So for those just starting out with HIIT cardio, this is a super simplified version that can work for anyone.
- Put your best running shoes on and a playlist that will pump you up.
- Go outside and jog for 5 minutes just to get your blood flowing and your muscles warm.
- Now perform a 30 second sprint giving it your all.
- Follow this with a 30 second jog.
- Once the 30 second jog is complete start your 30 second sprint once again.
- Repeat this for 7 times total if you are a beginner. (If you are more physically fit I recommend you to repeat this cycle of jogging then sprinting 10-12 times)
Yes it really is that simple to start doing HIIT cardio. Not only do you experience all the benefits that I have explained above, it is absolutely ridiculous how fast you can finish a HIIT workout.
The workout regimen I just explained will take you a total of 15 minutes including the warm up. Not only are you burning off MORE fat than steady-state cardio, you’re also saving a shitload of time.
This is also so much easier to stick to purely because there isn’t such a time commitment to it. You can literally wake up, wash your face and brush your teeth, chug a bottle of water, and get started with your HIIT workout.
Just because it sounds too good to be true doesn’t mean it won’t work. HIIT training is something that people have been doing for years and only in the past couple years has it become a fitness trend.
You will see a lot of online coaches and personal trainers who are recommending their clients to perform a HIIT workout 3 times a week on top of their weight training. This is how you will TRULY maximize your fat loss (along with intermittent fasting)
HIIT Training and Intermittent Fasting
If you’re looking to really speed things up with your fat loss goals, intermittent fasting along with HIIT training will be one of the most efficient and effectives ways for you to finally shed off that body fat.
If this is the first post you have read on my blog, I recommend you to head over to my “guide on intermittent fasting”. I explain everything you need to know over there.
How would I recommend HIIT with intermittent fasting for fat loss? It’s simple. While in a fasted state (upon waking up), simply take 10grams of BCAAS (branched chain amino acids) and coffee if you really want to amp things up. Then just go on with your HIIT workout while not having eaten anything yet. The BCAAS will preserve your muscle mass while exercising while at the same time literally melting your fat off.
This is why it works so effectively: when you are in a fasted state, your body actually switches from burning glycogen (from carbohydrates) to burning the stored fat from your body. Now since HIIT increases your insulin sensitivity, you are burning off EVEN MORE fat while training.
This is why so many people recommend intermittent fasting AND HIIT. Not only are you burning off a ton of fat while in a fasted state and doing your HIIT workout, you are also setting yourself up for way more of an energetic day.
That’s all there is to it. If you aren’t incorporating HIIT training into your workout program, you are seriously missing out on a lot of fat loss.
Closing Thoughts / Conclusion
- HIIT takes a LOT less time than steady state cardio. (Approximately 15-20 minutes altogether as compared to 40 minutes + for steady state cardio)
- HIIT workouts help burn fat even when you are not exercising which will help your overall fat burning goals.
- An example of a HIIT workout is switching from 30 second sprints to 30 seconds of rest and repeating this however many times you can.
- High intensity interval training will help increase your body’s metabolism. This means you are able to eat more of the foods you desire while still maintaining a decent fat burning state. This is one of the reasons why HIIT workouts are the best form of cardio for fat loss.
- HIIT is preferred over steady-state cardio when you are trying to build muscle. This is because you are increasing your testosterone and growth hormone when performing these workouts as compared to normal cardio (such as jogging) where you are actually losing muscle.
- You are also improving your insulin sensitivity. This means your body is able to digest carbohydrates more efficiently and will help convert it into energy rather than making your feel lethargic after big meals.
- If you want to really speed up fat loss, perform your HIIT workouts on an empty stomach (in a fasted state).
- Determine what kind of HIIT workout you find the most fun. This could be ranging from some form of circuit weight training, to sprints, to stationary bike, to using the row machine. Sky’s the limit, just find out what HIIT workout you can stick to. Remember consistency is more important than anything else.
- I have a simplified version of sprints in this post that can be used if you don’t know where to start.
- If you have chosen my simplified version of sprints, do this workout at least 4 times a week immediately upon waking up.
- Before doing the HIIT workout in the morning, drink 10 grams of BCAA’s and DO NOT eat breakfast.
- Perform the workout in a fasted state to ensure MAXIMUM fat loss.
- Stick with this for 4 weeks and enjoy the results 🙂