Despite our recent battles with the snow gods, it seems as if winter is on its way out. With the weather warming up, I’m seeing lots more people lacing up those pumps and catching the run bug. Cardio, oh how we love thee! Well, at least some of us do.
Like many of you, I grew up playing sports and grew a certain affinity for only running when there were balls to be chased. Obviously this has continued on and off the field but that’s a story for another day. At any rate, since leisurely runs, mountain biking, swimming and other bouts of cardio were never my forte I learned the most efficient ways to satisfy that cardio fix, in the quickest and most painless way possible.
Timing matters. Whoever told you that you can do your cardio anytime of day and get the same results is just wrong, wrong, wrong. When it comes to cardio the early bird gets the worm. If you are really looking for maximum fat burning do your cardio first thing in the morning before breakfast. I know we have been preaching breakfast for years but listen for a second. When you do cardio in a depleted state, which means no food intake for 8-10 hours, the body is forced to pull from more fat stores as a primary energy source.
With no carbohydrates or proteins immediately available, the body switches to our most efficient, yet annoying energy source, fat. That means with a morning depleted session of the same cardio output as your normal cardio rounds, you may burn up to twice as much fat calories as you would on a full stomach. So remember to get that run in before you run to that fridge.
Intensity matters, too. In the game of cardio strength and fat burning, intensity is king. If you really want that shredded look you have to go hard or go home. Add in high intensity interval training (HIIT) where you sprint to get your heart rate up and then allow short rest times of recovery. If you aren’t sure if you are going hard enough, here’s my simple rule: If you can talk during your workout you need to turn it up. The high intensity portion should leave you with only one priority, breathing. This type of training is the basis for all of my weight loss and weight maintenance client’s workouts because it yields big results in a short amount of time. The key is that these workouts keep you burning calories throughout the entire day.
HIIT training raises your metabolism and forces your body to burn more calories while shifting into massive recovery mode. This spring, ditch that 45-minute slow jog around Dupont and trade it for 20, 45-second sprints. Your abs will thank you.