Losing Weight, One Interval At A Time

Paul White's picture

If you believe that exercising for weight loss is all about endurance, about monotonous hours on a machine or alone on a back road, you’ll be happy to hear the news: there’s a better way, because you really can lose weight, one interval at a time.

Exercise, like the people who do it, comes in all flavors. Some folks believe golf is actually exercise, but the fact is you’ll burn more calories loading and unloading your clubs than riding around in a cart. Some sweat to the oldies in front of their new wide screen nibbling Wheat Thins between tunes. That jogging boom of the latter part of the last century is as rusty as a George Bush news conference – today it’s all elliptical trainers and spin classes. We pump iron, we pump medieval-looking weight machines. And we continue to look for a better way. Well, that better way is here.

The old conventional wisdom would have us believe that the longer we run, peddle, climb or spin, the more calories we’ll burn and the leaner we will be. But that thinking has given way to better thinking. And to understand why, you only have to watch the Olympics and take good hard look at the bodies of the athletes.

Put a marathon runner next to a hurdler and sprinter and look closely. One looks like a runway model, all elbows and knees, badly in need of a croissant. The sprinter looks like an NFL running back, with thick and well-defined muscles. The enlightened exerciser of today gets this –if you want a picture-perfect body surrounding that oh-so-healthy heart, the quickest way to get there is something called interval training.

Here’s How it Works If you increase your pace and intensity to maximum from three to five times during a 20-minute workout, and hold it there for 30-seconds, then slow down to a more moderate pace until your heart rate subsides, you will experience dramatically-increased benefits in comparison to an even, level pace. By pushing yourself to the limit for 30 seconds several time during a shorter workout, you experience a residual aerobic effect for many hours afterward. And – get this – you actually build muscle while burning off the fat. Inserting peak intervals into your aerobic workout release natural fat-burning hormones (it’s called HGH, for human growth hormone, and it’s all good when you manufacture it, rather than inject it) that remain in your body for hours, and while they’re there they inhibit fat-hoarding hormones, such as insulin. The interval trainer gets all the cardiac benefits, and then some, of the level exerciser, but with orders of magnitude more enduring benefit for the time spent.

So, to sprint or not to sprint, that really is the question. Based on the latest science, the answer is now clear: you really can lose weight, one interval at a time.

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