Shedding excess and burning belly fat to reveal that peak physique you’ve been working hard to attain can be a major challenge. Resistance training coupled with a consistent diet of unprocessed foods will get you close to your goal, but may leave you just shy of the ripped look that you want.
If you’re a bodybuilder or fitness competitor, burning belly fat last few millimeters could mean the difference between first place and no place. If you’re an athlete, dropping that slight bit of extra weight could boost your performance past your previous personal best. The question is, what is the best way to drop unwanted fat quickly?
In the old days, the tried and true method was steady-state aerobic training. The research demonstrated that working at 50 to 75% of one’s maximum heart rate burned the most fat by percentage. The theory emphasized maintaining a low to moderate intensity for an extended period, which shifted the body’s fuel system over to burning mainly fat. However, the downside to steady-state training is the duration necessary. Unfortunately, few people have the time to put in several hours of cardio every week.
Studies conducted within the last five years have demonstrated that high-intensity aerobic training at 75% of maximum heart rate or greater burns more total calories, and in turn more fat. Combining short- duration high-intensity bursts of activity with short-duration low-intensity segments or rest periods, known as high-intensity interval training or HIIT, has long been a staple of training for competitive athletes to help push them beyond previous performance levels, and has recently been shown to offer the greatest efficiency in burning fat.
HIIT is not just for athletes and can work well for anyone looking to cut body fat quicker, with the appropriate instruction. HIIT’s higher metabolic requirement helps ensure calories burned exceed calories taken in. Also, the shorter duration of HIIT sessions will contribute to decreasing missed training because of monotony.
Burning Belly Fat Fast: Effective Exercises and Tips
Some of the primary benefits of HIIT are (Roy):
- improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity
- improve cholesterol levels
- increased weight loss
- increased fat burning due to prolonging an elevated metabolic rate after exercise
- improve blood pressure
- decreased abdominal and subcutaneous fat due to improved fat oxidation by skeletal muscle
- better exercise consistency
HII is safe and poses a minimal injury risk if you’re smart about your training.
The HIIT portion of your plan can be as flexible as you want because there are no restrictions on your choice of mode. You can use any of the traditional gym-based cardio machines, or branch out to jumping rope, swimming, outdoor biking, or sprinting. You can also incorporate strength training intervals, such as free weights, kettlebells, or variable resistance machine circuits. Choose an activity you have experience with and already enjoy to get started burning belly fat.
Here are a few tips to help you set up your training:
- Start with short HIIT interval bouts, such as 5 to 10 minutes in the session, and gradually increase your session duration to a maximum of 30 minutes, including a 5 to 10-minute warm-up at the beginning and a 5 to a 10-minute cooldown at the end.
- Keep your HIIT segments between 20 and 45 seconds in the beginning. Once you can tolerate these, work up to between 60 and 90 seconds per interval.
- Regulate your low-intensity or rest periods at a 1:1 to 1:4 rate. An example of 1:1 would be a slow 30-second jog followed by a quick 30-second sprint.
- Begin doing HIIT training once per week and bump your frequency up to a maximum of three times per week.
- As you become comfortable with the training stimulus, rotate to other modes for variety.
- Use HIIT on your off days from regular strength training. If you want to do both on the same day, you have a couple of options. Option one is to replace your regular strength training session with a HIIT strength training circuit. Option two is to add in a HIIT aerobic session after your normal strength training. If you choose to do this, it’s wise to give yourself a brief rest after strength training to reduce fatigue and injury risk.
- Stay well hydrated throughout your session to keep your body’s metabolism at peak fat burning capacity.
HIIT is a great, scientifically-backed way of using cardio for burning belly fat faster than traditional methods, and can be a fun and challenging addition to any training regimen. HIIT is efficient and can cut your workout time significantly while giving you the defined physique that you have in mind.
Roy, Brad A. Ph.D, FACSM, FACHE. “High-Intensity Interval Training: Efficient, Effective, and a Fun Way To Exercise: Brought to you by the American College Of Sports Medicine www.acsm.org.” ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal (May/June 2013 Volume 17 – Issue 3): 3.