Is Burst Training the Best Exercise for Fat Loss?
Keeping excess fat at bay is hard work. You need to eat plenty of calories to rebuild bigger and stronger, but that inevitably leads to a little extra insulation.
Getting the balance right
to stay super lean all year round is nigh on impossible, and would almost certainly have a negative effect on your gains. For most of us that means cycling between bulking and cutting phases.
Most people dread cutting phases;
all those hours of boring cardio
, plodding along on the treadmill, pouring sweat. But, does it have to be that way? Apparently not.
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Plodding along at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate,
has for many decades, been held as the best way to shed body fat.
This is the optimum intensity range
for fat molecules to feed into the body’s energy cycles and burn as fuel.
If you consistently work harder than that, your body won’t be able to process the fat fast enough
so it turns to other fuels, such as glucose, and even muscle proteins. Distance runners and professional cyclists are so lean for this reason. Their bodies are trained to chug along all day on fat.
But lengthy cardio sessions lead to muscle breakdown, and elevated cortisol levels,
the enemy of the bodybuilder. Cortisol essentially does the opposite job to testosterone, it breaks down tissue.
So, what’s the alternative?
Burst training gained popularity
over the last few years, but the jury is out determining its effectiveness compared to the steady state cardio method. Now, new research shows not only is burst training a great tool for fat loss,
it may actually be more effective than standard, steady state training alone. In fact, studies show burst training could actually burn three times as much fat.
More research needs to be done to establish the long-term effects, but like any form of exercise, it pays to keep your body guessing, so let’s get bursting!
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Alongside smart training and a strict diet
, taking a scientifically proven fat burning supplement helps strip fat from your muscles,
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So, What Is Burst Training?
Burst training is exactly what you think it is. Cardiovascular exercise incorporates bursts of intense effort.
These bursts can be 10 seconds at 100% effort, or as much as 60 seconds at around 85%. This really depends on your fitness levels and the type of exercise you do.
The important aspects
incorporate bursts above your anaerobic threshold, and you allow enough time between bursts to recover, bring your heart rate back down into the aerobic zone, and clear the lactic acid from your muscles. Aerobic exercise works your body while not getting out of breath, for instance, slow jogging. Anaerobic exercise is when you are getting out of breath (into oxygen debt), and cannot be maintained for any great length of time, for instance sprinting.
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Taking the examples above, a simple burst training session involves alternating sprinting with jogging.
You run around an athletics track, sprinting the curves at 90+% of your maximum heart rate, and lightly jogging the straights to recover. If your fitness levels and powers of recovery are not great, you could sprint just one of the curves per lap.
So, knowing what we know about the relationship between heart rate and fat burning, how does burst training work and what makes it so much better?
The actual molecular reasons behind the fat burning potential of burst training are still under investigation, but there are theories that almost certainly hold the key to a scientific explanation. These are:
Burst training raises metabolism and promotes fat burning far more effectively than simple steady state cardio alone. In fact, it has been shown the body burns more fat for around 48 hours following burst training.
High-intensity training raises levels of anabolic hormones, such as testosterone and human growth hormone. These hormones promote the utilization of fat for fuel.
- The production of these hormones also counteracts the effects of exercise-induced rises in blood cortisol.
A burst training session need only last 15-20 minutes. This means less cortisol is produced.
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Burst training allows you to burn more stubborn fat,
and in one-third to one-half the time of a standard cardio session.
Creatine monohydrate is a fantastic supplement
as a standard addition to most bodybuilder’s supplement stack in the last twenty years or so. Creatine is a molecule found naturally within the human body helping you sustain and recover from intense efforts, such as those associated with burst training.
The creatine molecule acts by rapidly refueling muscle cells, giving you an extra, short burst of intense energy. Sheer Strength Labs Creatine Monohydrate is 100% pure
and is manufactured in CMP certified factories to the highest standard. The best way to take creatine is in cycles. Three months of taking up to 5g per day, followed by a month off is widely held as the most effective method of creatine supplementation. And mixing creatine with fruit juice aids with absorption.
Now for Some Burst Training Ideas:
- We have already mentioned alternating jogging with sprinting. If you don’t have access to a track, you can still use this method pretty much anywhere. Simply sprint at either 100% for 10 seconds, or 90% for 30 seconds, depending on your fitness levels. You could even do your burst training running on the spot if the weather is really bad. Just make sure your heart rate drops between bursts. Use a good quality heart rate monitor to stay in the proper ranges.
- The same method can be used on a bicycle or stationary bike. Burst and recover, burst and recover… Cycling may be a better method for many people as it eliminates the impact of running.
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Skipping offers a great way of doing burst training if you have the skills. Skip gently for a minute or two to raise your heart rate and get the blood pumping, then go for a 20-30 second fast burst. Throw in a few fancy tricks if you’re up to the task.
- In fact, boxing training, incorporating skipping, medicine ball work, and punching bags, offers an excellent burst training workout. Most sessions at good boxing clubs begin with a gentle workout that turns into an intense burst session.
- Exercises like sledgehammer training can be turned into great upper body burst training, fat shredding workouts. Hit a truck tire with a well-weighted hammer for 20 swings per side, then go for a lap or two of the gym to recover your heart rate and clear the lactate. Swing your arms to help the clean blood flow into your tired muscles.
Circuit training is a superb way to get an all-body workout, burst style. Just remember to recover your heart rate back into the aerobic zone (<70% max heart rate) for a minute or so between bursts.
Or you can just use many standard weight training exercises to provide an effective, fat burning, burst training session. Choose exercises you can effectively perform at a good tempo to raise your heart rate while retaining proper form. Press-ups or kettlebell squats are excellent examples. Cable work is generally a no-no. Do not aim to take these sets to exhaustion, instead aim to raise the heart rate into the desired burst zone (85-100%) for a short period. Recovery could be done on a treadmill or rowing machine, depending on the muscle groups worked.
The important thing to remember with burst training,
like all other forms of exercise, is to effectively warm up and down, before and after sessions.
It is especially essential to flush all of the lactic acid from your muscles.
Sheer Strength Labs Sheer Recovery
is a top quality post-workout supplement
fueling your muscles with all the nutrients they need to help you rebuild and prepare for your next session. Sheer Recovery also contains creatine monohydrate, making your post-workout supplementation regime that little bit simpler.
Jonathan Warren is a national level physique competitor and personal trainer with multiple certifications including NASM, NCCPT, and IKFF. His specializations include mobility training and corrective exercise as well as contest preparation.