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Blast Away Fat With Interval Cardio Training

Mar 27, 2008
You can lose weight quickly. You can shed fat from your belly and under your arms with rigorous but smart exercise. You can get a lean, athletic build. You can even show off your muscles by losing that pesky layer of fat that obscures your tone and definition. It is not a matter of training for hours on end every day. It is a matter of making every minute of your exercise as efficient as possible. When training your heart while shooting for fast calorie loss, interval based cardio training is the key.

Low Intensity Vs. High Intensity Cardio Training
There are two camps when it comes to cardio training; one buys into the low intensity philosophy. They say, walk, don't run. The high intensity people, on the other hand, say run, don't walk. Lets explore both arguments.

It is true that, during low intensity cardio exercise, such as walking or light biking, more calories are burned directly from fat. The only problem is, with low intensity cardiovascular exercise, your overall calorie burn isn't enough to truly make a difference in your overall weight loss and body fat reduction.

High intensity cardio training, on the other hand, burns many more calories in a much shorter time period. Some fitness enthusiasts take this to the extreme by pushing themselves as fast and as far as they possibly can. A competitive athlete might sprint flat out for as long as possible, increasing his or her distance and time on the track with every workout. This method works well for some, but is not practical for all.

Tools For Effective Interval Based Cardio Training
Interval based cardiovascular training is a more sensible method of burning a high volume of calories in a short time period. To train with cardio intervals, you will need two things: a heart rate monitor and your maximum heart rate (MHR). Your MHR relates to your age and sex. You can get your MHR by using the following calculations:

For men: MHR = 202 - (.55 x age)
For women: MHR = 216 - (1.09 x age)

These calculations are the results of research conducted at John Moores University in Liverpool in 2007. Research results were reported in the Int J Sports Med 2007; 24.

To practice, lets calculate the MHR for both a 36-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman.

A 36-year-old man calculates his MHR with this equation: 202 - (.55 x 36) = 182.

A 28-year-old-woman calculates her MHR with this equation: 216 - (1.09 x 28) = 185.

Once you have calculated your MHR, you will need a heart rate monitor. You can purchase an inexpensive model from any sporting goods store or from an online vendor. With all the right tools in place, you are ready to workout using interval based cardiovascular training.

Using Interval Based Cardio Training
Any cardiovascular exercise will do. You can run, speed-walk, bike, stair-step, work on an elliptical, jump rope, or any other from cardio exercise. High impact cardio exercise such as running can be harmful on the ankles and knees over time. You might consider using low impact exercises like biking or elliptical to guard against unnecessary wear and tear on the body.

Interval based cardio training breaks your workout into sections (intervals) of time. These intervals alternate between low intensity and high intensity. Your heart rate during exercise acts as a guide to tell you when to switch from low intensity to high intensity mode or from high intensity back to low intensity mode. To exercise using interval based cardio training, follow the eight steps below:

1. Put on your heart rate monitor and begin exercise. Start with one to two minutes of exercise at a light, warm up speed.

2. After a short warm up, kick it in gear. Push yourself as hard as you can. Keep an eye on your heart monitor. Your goal is to hit around 80% of your MHR. If you MHR is 185, you should shoot for 148 to 160 or so.

3. Once you hit 80% of your MHR, maintain your current intensity/speed to keep your heart rate at 80% of your MHR for one minute.

4. At the one-minute mark, drop the intensity of your exercise. Your goal is to drop your heart rate by twenty beats per minute. If, during your high intensity interval, you kept your heart rate at 148 (80% of your MHR), you should shoot for a heart rate at around 128 during your low intensity interval.

5. Maintain your low exercise intensity to keep your heart rate at 20 less than 80% of your MHR for one minute.

6. After a minute of low intensity exercise, kick it in again to raise your heart rate to 80% of your MHR.

7. Continue this pattern, alternating between a high intensity interval for one minute and a low intensity interval for one minute for as long as you like.

8. Finish your interval based workout with a one to two minute, low intensity cool down.

Usually twenty minutes of interval based cardiovascular exercise is enough to keep your metabolism pumping, to lose weight, and to keep your heart in good condition. You should experiment with the frequency and length of your interval based training. Put yourself a cardiovascular exercise schedule for two weeks, perhaps working out for 20 minutes on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. Weigh yourself at the beginning of your schedule and again at the end. If, while maintaining a healthy diet, you have not lost weight, try increasing the length or frequency of your cardiovascular workouts. You should see a weight loss difference; if you don't you need to change your routine until you get on a steady fat loss track. With some experimentation, you will find your way to obtaining a slim, athletic body.
About the Author
Craig Nybo is the president of TOTALhuman.com, a company dedicated to improving YOUR quality of life with advanced, highly efficient exercise programs.
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