Burn Fat & Tone Up
How do you burn fat and tone up?
It's not just a case of losing weight.
'Burning fat and toning up' is by far the most common goal that most people want to achieve from exercise. Ironically, it is also by far the goal that most people set about achieving in completely the wrong way. So many people start off on the wrong foot. It's not just a case of knocking out some cardio to lose weight. For the vast majority of people, the best answer to 'burning fat and toning up', in the shortest time possible, is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), such as The 4 Minute Max Outs Burn Fat and Tone Up Schedule, that generates a high calorie burn in the time worked, contains plenty of bodyweight strength moves, requires no equipment, and can be done anywhere, at any time, by any one, to get great results, fast. It's not the only way, but as said, for most people it will be the most effective and efficient way for their circumstance and goals by far. This page is going to explain why.
Understand what looking toned actually is.
Muscle tone is a very common widely used term that refers to the look of visible tension held in your muscles or their firmness at rest. Rather than hard or soft, it's better to think of muscles as either getting bigger, staying the same, or getting smaller. When they get harder, it's not to do with tone as much denseness. They are bigger with more compacted muscle tissues. And when they go soft, they are less dense, or smaller with less compacted muscle tissues. When people talk of 'getting more toned' in reference to having visibly more defined muscles, what they are really talking about is just a decrease in body fat on top of their muscle. Whether your body is wobbly or soft or not, or how 'toned' it looks, depends on the size of your muscles relative to the layer of fat over the top of them. Strip the fat and any amount of muscle will look toned. And that applies whether you have small muscles or big muscles or whether you are talking six pack abs, ironing board chest, a winged back, tree trunk legs. When you see someone visibly 'toned' you are simply observing a low body fat percentage. A muscle with a lower amount of body fat over the top of it, will always seem more 'toned' and firmer at rest without tensing, than the exact same muscle with a higher amount of body fat over the top of it. The muscle is of course the exact same firmness no matter your percentage body fat.
You always stand to lose muscle as well as fat when you lose weight.
However, burning fat and toning up isn't therefore just a simple case of losing weight. When you lose weight, that weight consists of a percentage of fat and a percentage of muscle. If you don't promote muscle synthesis by strength training your muscles in some way, and don't eat enough protein for your size and level of activity, you will lose a high proportion of muscle tissue during weight loss as well as body fat. That wont give you that toned look you are after, it will just make you shrink in size and strength. Nobody wants to end up in the skinny fat predicament.
If you don't use it you lose it.
So, you don't just have to lower your body fat percentage to visually look 'toned', you have to do some form of strength training to maintain, increase, or prevent yourself from losing, the muscle tissue and fibres that you already have. When it comes to muscle tissue when losing weight, as the old adage goes; 'If you don't use it, you lose it.'
Realise what you have to do.
So, whether you realise it or not, what you are really saying when you say you want to 'burn fat and tone up' is, that you want to burn fat whilst either retaining your current muscle tissue or building more of it. Or that you want to burn fat at a much faster rate than losing muscle tissue. And whether you realise it or not, what you are also saying is that you want to eat a balanced calorie deficient diet with at least enough protein to sustain your muscle mass and level of muscle breakdown from exercise. Make no mistake, you have to eat right and be in a calorie deficit to achieve this goal. Otherwise, the end result will be that you wont burn any excess body fat at all as what you use will ultimately just be replaced again. But lets assume you are eating right. Diet alone is not enough. Performing the right kind or combination of exercise is essential for good results.
Do the right types of exercise.
You need exercise that will massively boost your metabolic rate to assist you in creating a sustainable calorie deficit so that your body can lose weight, and also exercise that can strength train your entire body to promote muscle synthesis to prevent you losing muscle as you lose weight. This is what will make you look good. This is what will give you that body you've always longed for but never believed possible after your previous experiences of exercise in the past. This combination means that a calorie deficit should much greater promote body fat to be broken down to release energy and reduce your size over muscle. And this means that you will burn fat and retain your muscle mass. Or to cut along story short, it means you will burn fat and tone up.
Don't waste all your time on the treadmill.
Most peoples first step towards 'burning fat and toning up' is usually lots of steady state cardio like running or cycling for an hour a day to attempt to achieve both goals together. While these will work the slow twitch muscle fibres in your legs and provide many great health benefits, will they provide good muscle benefits to your upper body at all? And are they even the most efficient ways of burning fat so you can see the muscle beneath? The answer to both is no. Which means that neither of these are the most efficient way to achieve that look you are after on their own. In actual fact, long bouts of steady state cardio actually reduce growth hormone and testosterone outputs, and shed muscle mass as they force your body to adapt better to long bouts of continuous lower intensity endurance exercise. To your body, muscle mass is just unnecessary weight when under the continuous pressure of long bouts of steady state cardio where as fat is actually the optimal fuel source for the activity. Weight loss will reflect this over time. Even though you will lose fat when you manage to burn sufficient calories to put you in a calorie deficit by going for long enough at a decent pace, you will lose muscle too as your body adapts itself for purpose to the pressures it is under. Remember, with muscle mass, if you don't use it, you lose it. A process that can be potentially accelerated when losing weight. So in other words you will shrink and get lighter, but you will unlikely look much more 'toned' as a result of it. And that's the first mistake many make without even ever realising it. Too much light cardio and with nothing else is not only overly time consuming, it's ineffective and possibly even counter productive in terms of burning fat and toning up.
Intensify your cardio to ramp up your metabolic rate.
Adding sprint intervals into running or cycling cardio will add a massive metabolic boost both during your workout and throughout the next day. Not only will sprints massively increase your calorie burn to help you lose weight, they also utilise the fast twitch muscle fibres in the legs too. But again what of the upper body muscles? Cycling, no impact at all. Running? Sprinting does utilise all the upper body muscles but with very little resistance. It will certainly help to a degree over steady state cardio, but much more to boost your metabolic rate, calorie burn, cardio ability, and upper body speed than to prevent muscle loss when losing weight. You need more resistance to greater prevent muscle loss, but adding in sprints is a mighty good start as it will boost your metabolic rate and confirm to your body that it really does need various muscles to survive repeated and continuous bursts of high octane power.
An important safety note.
Purely from a health and safety point of view however, sprint intervals on a static bike are perfect for the gym, but it's impractical to do effective maximum intensity sprint intervals on a treadmill - you don't want to end up embedded in the back wall of the gym after getting exhausted! The great outdoors adding in various inclines is a much better and more practical option for running sprint intervals. And it's completely free. Again, be careful with sprint intervals outdoors if you are on a bike - you don't want to get run over or come off the bike at 100mph. Needless to say, it won't do your health much good.
Weights are great. Provided you have the range, time, money, dedication, knowledge...
Resistance training is the best way to really let your body know that it's muscles are needed to prevent losing, and even build, muscle when losing weight in a calorie deficit. If your body is faced with constant heavy resistance, that it doesn't use fat as the main energy source to resist, it's not going to adapt itself by shedding muscle over fat. That would be suicide. Heavy weights, when used correctly, are the most efficient way of increasing muscle mass. So if you combine this into your routine with your sprint intervals you then have a huge metabolic calorie burning form of exercise combined with the most efficient muscle loss prevention and muscle building form of exercise going. That's great. Result? ... On paper, definitely, if you know how to lift heavy weights efficiently and mix sprint intervals into a schedule over a few weeks. Lifting heavy weights to maintain and even build your muscle mass, whilst combining it with some form of regular metabolic boosting cardio, and eating a balanced calorie deficit diet with enough protein to sustain your body mass for the level of muscle breakdown your activity levels create, is a fantastic and incredibly effective way to burn fat and tone up. In time, and with lots of time and dedication, it will get you excellent results.
Now back to the reality of your life...
However, in realty suddenly quite a time consuming complex hefty workout plan has developed. Sprint intervals are great in theory but hard to do in practice. They are very exhausting with zero variety which makes it hard to keep yourself motivated when the option is always there simply to go slower at any time. They will also get you a lot of strange looks in the gym. And not only do you have to go for hour long runs or cycles or do 20 or so minutes sprints a few days a week, you've also got to either purchase weights and a bench, or else join, and find time to get to a gym. You need to have a wide array of adjustable weights from mid to heavy to be effective in this approach. Do you have them? Do you actually have the space to have them? Can you afford them? Or will you need to join a gym? Expensive gym membership it is then. How expensive and how far away is your nearest gym? Do you really have time to get there every night? How busy is that gym? Optimising recovery time in workouts is important. It's no good having to queue for equipment all the time. Will you feel comfortable around the type of people in that gym? It can be very unnerving having a couple of body builders standing around waiting for you to finish on your equipment. Especially if you're not training effectively. Do you know how to train effectively with weights? What balance of steady state cardio, sprint intervals, and strength training are you going to shoot for? How much time is this actually going to take out of your life? Is this actually a sustainable plan for your life? Suddenly the looking good on paper is not looking so good in practical reality is it?
Do you know what you are doing?
The reality is, many people simply don't know what they have to do in the gym to get results, and without paying a personal trainer, there isn't anyone there to properly help them. The most common mistake being misguidedly spending ages using very light weights to 'tone up' and then creating the double whammy of running far too slowly, and for no where near long enough, on a treadmill to 'burn fat'. And on top of that, there's the triple whammy, where they are eating badly too. Some, women in particular, are worried about lifting any weights at all in case they make themselves bulky overnight. They won't. If only it was that easy to build muscle. You have to be highly dedicated, consistently adding progressive overload, and be eating right, to effectively build bulky muscle mass. And even then it takes time. In a calorie deficit, you really don't have to worry about becoming big and bulky at all. But people do, and carry on following every misconception in the book in a futile attempt to 'burn fat and tone up' whilst continuing to wonder why they are not seeing good results.
Do you have enough time to make the gym sustainable?
The realty is, gym membership is so often problematic unless you have the knowledge to work out effectively and the circumstance of time to accommodate it. People's lives are generally busier and more hectic than years ago. For the majority, work no longer starts at 9 and ends at 5. Many people work 2 jobs just to make ends meet. Work, schools, colleges, and universities all expect you to do more learning out of hours than ever before. If you are a self learner, time is always in deficit as you have to both work full time to earn money and work full time to pursue your passions to progress. If you have young kids then your timescale's exist on a whole different paradoxical time plane to the rest of society. Perhaps you are sent away a lot for work and spend a lot of time in hotel rooms. The bottom line is, everybody these days is short of time. What use is a gym membershp, if you don't have the time or circumstance to get there? But all that doesn't change the fact that exercise is still paramount for good health. In fact it makes exercise more important as it's the lack of time that so often leads us to poor quick fix diet choices and the lack of the right kinds of physical activity to keep us healthy. So what this means is, under these social conditions that dictate to us all, the most effective workout becomes the one you can do right here, right now, no matter where you are on the planet, with no equipment required, minimal time wastage, and that actually gets results. Basically, exercise is no different to anything else when you are pushed for time. The less obstacles there are to you doing it, the more likely you are to get it done. And at the end of the day, getting it done is what counts more than anyhing else.
It's not the mountains ahead that will wear you out. It's the pebble in your shoe.
The biggest reason most don't get results at the gym stage, despite all the best intentions in the world, is because they simply don't end up having the time or dedication to actually get to the gym that they've paid for and work out in the first place. Over time, it's always the smallest of problems that are the one's that actually prevent you from heading off to the gym and achieving your goals. As Muhammad Ali once said, 'It's not the mountains ahead that will wear you out. It's the pebble in your shoe.' And he was right. A gym membership is one thing, but if you never get round to leaving the house or work it's not much use to anyone. Sadly, in reality, this happens to an awful lot of people inside of a year of them taking out a gym membership. Over time, it's always the pebble in their shoe that breaks their inspiration. The reality is, you simply cannot get results from exercise unless it is sustainable in your life circumstance. This is such an important concept. Results will never come without embracing and understanding this.
Accessibility is the key to sustainability. Sustainability is the key to results.
Accessibility is vitally important, if not the most important factor, in getting exercise done. If there is even the slightest excuse to stop you exercising after your initial motivation spurt, more often than not, it will. Especially as time goes on. This is why the highest gym membership influx and active participation rate is always January and the lowest is always December. When your training plan becomes too complex or it becomes expensive, or takes up too much time to do efficiently, it is likely for most that it will very quickly become unsustainable. For exercise to deliver any kind of results, you need it to be sustainable in your life circumstance.
What if you could get the benefits of sprinting and weight training all in one with no equipment required? And for free? And you could do it at home?
Accessibility is why so many people across the globe look to running for all the answers. It's completely free, anyone can do it, you can vary the intensity and duration to suit you and the time you have, and it makes you feel great. It is accessible and sustainable to all. Running is great, but as said, on it's own however, it is not enough to get good results if you want to 'burn fat and tone up' as it provides no kind of strength training at all and can actually promote muscle loss over time. So what you really need is something that has all the amazing benefits and accessibility of running, but also all the amazing benefits of strength training too without losing any of that all important accessibility. Now imagine you could have all that, and see much better results than running in half the time too without even having to leave your house? Well, you can, and you always could have. You've just never realised it before.
The irony of expensive gym memberships.
The great hidden irony for everyone who has ever paid a gym membership fee is that you already have your own portable personal gym accessible to you at all times, that takes no time at all to utilise, has the whole array of weights perfect for your own body size, and can get results in less time than it would take you to leave the house and get to the gym, let alone actually doing a workout at the gym and then coming back again. And the best part is, you can use it any place, any time, and it's completely free. I am of course talking about your own body. That is all you need.
HIIT is the ultimate answer to 'burning fat and toning up' fast.
For all the reasons above, the best and most accessible for all answer to 'burning fat and toning up' is not the traditional approach of jogging, cycling or lifting weights in a gym. It's not even a mixture of all of them together. The best answer to 'burning fat and toning up' is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that contains plenty of bodyweight strength moves, requires no equipment, and can be done anywhere, and at any time, by any one, to get great results, fast.
So we've established that to 'burn fat and tone up' efficiently you need to:-
Do some form of metabolic boosting cardio
Do some form of strength training
Eat a balanced calorie deficit diet
Eat enough protein for your size and activity levels.
And we've discovered that for exercise to deliver results, it has to be sustainable. And that the key to sustainability, is accessibility.
The best and most accessible for all answer to 'burning fat and toning up', that covers all the bases above in every workout, is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) with focused callisthenic speed, strength, and power moves included. Calisthenics uses your own body weight to provide resistance and can be done by anyone with no equipment needed at all.
The 4 Minute Max Outs has it all covered.
The 4 Minute Max Outs will return amazing results for those who want to 'burn fat and tone up' fast. With The 4 Minute Max Outs there are no obstacles to exercise so there can be no excuses. All you have to do is get it done the best you can in the time that you have, and the best results you can get in that time will follow.
The 4 Minute Max Outs will help you to burn fat fast, whilst strengthening your muscles at the same time. With 20 to 30 minutes a night you will see significantly better whole body results than going for an hour long run every night. This is because, unlike running or cycling, HIIT routines have you exercising in the maximum cardio benefit zone which burns the most calories and where an after burn effect is created that keeps the calories continuously burning over the next 24 hours.
Unlike steady state cardio, growth hormone and testosterone are boosted as a result of HIIT too. So HIIT routines that also include plenty of strength and power moves, such as The 4 Minute Max Outs, will also strengthen your muscles every time you work out too. Maintaining your strength as you lose weight is vitally important as it lets your body know that your muscles are still needed as your body adapts to a calorie deficit, preventing you losing muscle mass as you burn fat fast. And reducing muscle loss in weight loss also means increasing fat loss in weight loss. You don't need expensive weights or gym memberships to achieve these goals. You already have all the weights you'll need in the form of your own body weight.
The 4 Minute Max Outs will have you utilising your own body weight for focused gains in speed, strength, and power allowing you to 'burn fat and tone up' fast whilst getting a healthy strong heart and cardiovascular system at the same time. All the workout structures and timings are taken care of, and you can do it all in the convenience of your own home, with no equipment needed, and in the shortest most compact space of time possible. All you have to do is just do it.
There can be no excuses with The 4 Minute Max Outs. Where ever you are it can be right here, right now, let's get it done, let's get results. Fast. And not only will it cost you a one off fee less than the local bus fare or even petrol to and from your local gym, it will more than likely be done and completed in less time than it would take you to actually get to your gym in the first place, let alone workout and come back again. And, unlike expensive gym membership, The 4 Minute Max Outs won't expire. They will help you stay in shape your whole life if you let them. And they affordable for all.
Burn Fat with Diet.
Create a calorie deficit and eat well.
If you haven't already, first read the section outlining metabolism, calories, and exercise and how this effects your weight and health.
For a balanced diet an active person should aim for:-
Carbohydrate 40% to 65%
Protein 10% to 35%
Fats 20% to 35%
Using the calorie calculator you can find out how many calories you should be consuming daily to reach your goal. To burn fat you need to create a calorie deficit of up to 1000 calories each day after you have taken into account your activity levels. Although never drop your calorie allowance below 1200 per day. A 20% to 25% calorie deficit is a good place to start. Your body will break down its body fat reserves to release energy as part of its attempts to bridge the resultant energy deficit. Use the nutrition calculator to find a balanced food ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and fats tailored to your specific calorie goal, weight, and activity level.
To create a calorie deficit in your diet, it's most efficient to start by cutting back your fat intake to the minimum, not because fat is bad, but because fats have 9 calories per gram to carbohydrates and proteins 4. This gives you an easy head start in reducing your calorie intake. Cut out as much added sugar and processed foods as you can too. Increased protein levels are vitally important both to speed up your metabolism via thermic effect and to prevent muscle loss during rapid weight loss. It's no good breaking your muscles down and then not giving it the tools to repair and rebuild. This is a fast track to muscle loss during weight loss. Always make sure you are getting enough protein for your size and activity levels every day. The nutrition calculator can help you with this. Keeping your strength up is also vitally important for retaining your muscle mass whilst losing weight. The 4 Minute Max Outs includes plenty of bodyweight strength moves ensuring you maintain and build your strength and burn even more calories with every workout.
When dieting to lose weight without exercise, it's often advised to cut right down on carbohydrates due to how they affect insulin in your body. However, when doing HIIT there should be plenty of natural carbohydrates in your diet to fuel your workouts and refill your energy stores. Without them, you will find it hard to reach, let alone sustain, maximum intensity. You'll also waste a lot of your protein intake needed for muscle sustenance and growth. For most people natural carbohydrates taken in moderation through out the day shouldn't cause a problem with losing weight in a calorie deficit whist doing HIIT at all. If you think your fat burn is prohibited by carbohydrates however, the best time to eat carbohydrates is before your workout (1 to 2 hours pre workout to allow it time to digest) to provide the high intensity fuel, and directly after your workout (up to 30 minutes post workout) to rapidly refill your glycogen stores to speed up recovery. On both occasions, particularly doing HIIT, you can be sure the energy will be utilised. If you don't put in maximum intensity into any HIIT workout, your calorie burn will be much lower and therefore so will be your potential to burn fat. In short you'll cripple the effectiveness of your workouts and therefore your results by cutting out carbohydrates completely. Again, the nutrition calculator can help you get a good balance.
Break your food intake into 5 to 6 smaller meals per day rather than 3 to help avoid hunger cravings and make it easier to get your optimal protein and recommended vegetable intake, and avoid processed foods whilst dieting. Take a look at the Quick 5 Diet Plan for 5 steps to a better diet and read the dieting guide for many more useful tips on healthy eating and losing weight.
Burn Fat and Tone Up with Exercise.
Burn fat and tone up with HIIT.
As outlined above, the most efficient way to 'burn fat and tone up' with exercise is to do High Intensity Interval Training, that incorporates the whole body using a combination of speed and strength moves, such as The 4 Minute Max Outs, for 20 to 30 minutes a day (or if that's not possible as much time you can allow / the absolute best you can do) 5 days a week.
Any exercise is better than no exercise but there is a reason why HIIT is so much more effective for weight loss over say steady state cardio such as jogging or cycling.
The 'Maximum Fat Burn Zone' misconception.
The 'Maximum Fat Burn Zone' is a common term given to the level of intensity at which your body uses a higher percentage of fat for energy rather than the glycogen stored in the muscles and liver. It is associated with steady state cardio such as jogging or cycling where the effect is commonly found. It occurs when exercising at around 45% to 70% of your HRmax.
Your body uses fat and blood sugar (glucose or glycogen) in synergy for fuel to meet the energy requirements put on it. Low intensity activity uses a higher percentage of fat and a lower percentage of blood sugar. Higher intensity uses a higher percentage of blood sugar and a lower percentage of fat. For instance, at 50% of your HRmax, your body burns a ratio of 60% fat to 40% glycogen. Once you go over 65% HRmax the primary fuel source becomes glycogen. So at 75% of your max heart rate, your body burns a ratio of just 35% fat to 65% glycogen. Then, as you increase the HRmax percentage even more, the percentage reliance on glycogen goes up also, as percentage reliance on fat goes down. Also, in absolute terms, the actual amount of fat used as fuel increases up to 65% HRmax, after which point it starts to lessen again gradually as blood sugar takes over to become the primary fuel source.
So on the surface, misguided wisdom had it that going at 65% HRmax intensity for long periods of time, was the most efficient and effective way to burn fat. And while this method is still effective, HIIT has since been tried and tested, both in labs and by real world everyday people, to be much more effective in half the time at burning fat.
Why is HIIT is so effective at burning fat? Calories.
HIIT is incredibly effective for fat burn. HIIT has a very high calorie burn relative to the duration of exercise performed and keeps on burning calories for 24 hours after your workout has ended. HIIT not only actively burns more calories than other forms of exercise in the time performed, but also raises your natural metabolic rate making it much easier to create and sustain the healthy calorie deficit required to lose weight and burn fat. HIIT stimulates increased production of testosterone and growth hormone that both help to promote muscle synthesis helping to potentially favour fat burn over muscle loss when losing weight over time. HIIT also produces increased levels of adrenaline that gives an additional performance boost to enable you to burn even more calories, and mobilises fat stores for energy use, again, helping to potentially favour fat burn over muscle loss when losing weight over time. But don't be fooled, there are no magic tricks here. You still have to earn the results from HIIT. The reason HIIT burns so many calories is that it is hard work.
Weight loss is about calories in being less than calories out over time.
HIIT elevates your heart rate into the maximum cardio benefit zone in each workout, that is it raises it above 70% HRmax. At around 65% HRmax has been shown to be the point where your body uses both the highest percentage and highest absolute amount of fat as fuel, giving it the name 'maximum fat burn zone'. This is misleading, as while it may be technically true for that moment in time in relation to energy used by your body for fuel, fat loss over time is not just a result of what is used for fuel inside of a workout.
Where the misguided wisdom of 65% HRmax applying the 'maximum fat burn zone' to losing weight was floored, was the assumption that the fuel used to power a workout is the main cause of overall body fat loss. Just as muscle is built after a workout and not during, so too is the vast majority of fat burnt after a workout, and not during. Caring about how much fat is burned during exercise itself is as academic as worrying about how much muscle is built during exercise. Fat burn is a result of the balance of daily energy expenditure and not simply the actual fuel oxidized during exercise. That is, it is a result of calories in versus calories out. If you want to burn fat, you need to ensure that your body burns more calories than it consumes. This forces your body to break down fat and or muscle to reduce your size and release energy in the process. One of the aims of exercise is to maximise the amount of body fat burned and minimise the amount of muscle tissue lost when losing weight. Depending on how it is done, HIIT can do this to a far greater extent than steady state cardio, and more rapidly.
As so many more calories are burnt up as increased blood sugar usage rapidly accelerates in the maximum cardio benefit zone above 70% HRmax, working out for the same duration of time at over 70% HRmax will result in far greater potential fat burn than working out at 65% HRmax. The word 'potential' is used as obviously it is dependant on the calorie intake from your diet too. So when it comes to losing weight, the more calories expended from the exercise the better, and continuous maximum intensity is the key to this, not striving for 65% HRmax in the 'maximum fat burn zone'.
Difference in practical application.
And then there is the practical application of these heart rates. It is very hard to accurately gauge when you are performing at exactly 65% HRmax let alone maintaining that steady pace. If you are performing at less, as many people on treadmills or running in the street inevitably will be, the academic level of fat burned as fuel will be lower and, the crucially important for fat loss, total amount of calories burned, will be lower too. Contrastingly, it is very easy to know when you are operating at over 70% HRmax as you are sprinting and will tire very rapidly and need a short rest to recover. As your intensity peaks at say 95% HRmax, although the academic amount of fat used as fuel does drop, the amount of blood sugar used, and therefore the crucially important for fat loss, total amount of calories burned, sky rockets.
So in other words, if you can sustain your workout in the maximum cardio benefit zone above 70% HRmax you will burn much more calories and therefore over time much more fat than the same length workout at 65% HRmax and lower. The fact that slightly less fat will have been utilised as fuel for the exercise is irrelevant to the vast difference in overall calories burnt over the same time period. Combine that with the fact that most joggers and people on cardio machines going for long slow runs will probably be under 65% HRmax most of the time and people doing HIIT may well be pushing 95% HRmax a lot of the time, and you're a long way there in explaining just how HIIT can burn the same amount of calories in half the time of steady state cardio.
EPOC and the oxygen debt.
High intensity exercise also creates an 'oxygen debt' that the body recovers in the 24 hours after the workout. This can be demonstrated by running up a few flights of stairs. On the way up your breathing becomes laboured. Once you reach the top and stop, your breathing suddenly becomes much more laboured as your body recovers the 'oxygen debt'. This metabolic process is termed EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). The greater the workout intensity and length, the greater the EPOC, meaning your basic metabolic rate will be raised and your body will keep burning many more calories via EPOC over the following 24 hours. Steady state cardio, such as jogging and cycling does not produce this magnitude of afterburn effect, making HIIT incredibly more efficient for burning calories, and therefore potentially body fat, than steady state cardio performed for the same duration of exercise time.
Increased hormonal response.
HIIT also stimulates greater production of testosterone and growth hormone that both promote muscle synthesis. This assists preventing the catabolic processes that break down muscle tissue for energy when losing weight, particularly when the HIIT routine also contains lots of strength moves. Or in other words, HIIT can promote a greater percentage fat burn in the fat to muscle loss ratio when losing weight.
If sprinting is the key to calorie burn, how do you sprint for 30 minutes?
The answer is you don't. You can't. You do it in high intensity intervals instead. One example of this could be sprinting hard for 30 seconds, then walking for 30 seconds to recover. Then repeat this process multiple times. The great thing about HIIT is there are so many ways of doing it. The 4 Minute Max Outs, has the variety and customisation to keep your HIIT sessions fun and effective and you can do it all from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere you please, anytime you see fit.
So why do steady state cardio at all then?
Sports and performance.
HIIT may be vastly superior at burning fat and improving your cardio ability to steady state cardio, but that doesn't mean steady state cardio doesn't have its own optimal benefits. Steady state cardio is still compulsory, along with HIIT, to optimally train for longer endurance events and sports. If you are training for endurance events, say for a marathon, steady state cardio is compulsory to work those slow twitch muscle fibres and condition your entire body for purpose as that's what you will actually be doing. Likewise with team sports. You spend much of the time jogging around as well as sprinting. You need to train for purpose. If you want to increase your lactate/anaerobic threshold (the point when your muscles burn during exercise) you should be doing steady state cardio sessions as well as HIIT sessions for optimal results. For instance, you could do a HIIT routine, such as The 4 Minute Max Outs for 28 minutes, and then go for a long slow run. This will have the added advantage of you training in a pre exhausted state with relatively depleted glycogen stores to mimic your bodies condition in the latter stages of longer endurance or sporting events to improve your performance under these conditions.
It's much easier work.
HIIT gets better results in half the time of steady state cardio because HIIT is really hard work. This has it's downsides. You will be a lot more tired during and after your workouts as you will have to work and push yourself much much harder whilst doing them. For some, the intensity of HIIT is like an addictive rush. As is the mentality of finding a new level and then immediately breaking it along with your own fitness boundaries all in the same workout. For others, not so much. The intensity of HIIT workouts may be much less pleasurable than steady state cardio for some.
Good for beginners, elderly, and the heavily obese.
If you are new to exercise, or perhaps you are very heavily overweight relative to your strength, or older, and not comfortable with pushing your heart rate to these high levels, longer lower intensity steady state cardio may feel a preferable option over doing HIIT. The calorie burn will be much lower however, so unless you eat much less, weight loss will also be much slower, but if you are doing the best you can do, don't worry because nobody can ever do any more than that.
Cycling is zero impact on your joints.
If you are very overweight, such that you will have a problem with joint impacts, strength to weight ratio, or mobility that will acutely prevent intensity, then steady state cardio on a static bike, as it is zero impact, is actually recommended to get your weight down to healthier levels before you attempt more intensive exercise. Add sprint sessions on the bike in gradually to increase the rate your health improves. Still follow all the same dieting advice and your weight will drop. Then when you feel ready, you can focus on HIIT routines to get even better results, faster. It's the first important steps on an amazing journey to changing your life. Every step will empower you. As results come, it will feel like the best thing you have ever done. If you would categorise yourself in this boat, then when you are ready after your static bike sessions, you could start The 4 Minute Max Outs sessions when you are ready at 4 or 8 minutes, cardio only, and then build them up over time at your own pace whilst continuing your static cycling on other days. Remember, as long as you are doing the best you can do with The 4 Minute Max Outs, you will get the best results that you can achieve. Nobody can ever do any more than that. Once you get in the flow, your results will start to improve fast. And once you get going, the bigger you are, the faster the weight will come off.
The great outdoors.
Steady state cardio, outside of the gym, has the benefit of the changing scenery of the great outdoors and the psychological release that runners and cyclists get. It can be a real mood booster and even help combat depression.
It still burns calories and improves cardio.
Steady state cardio is still a great way to assist your diet in losing weight and becoming healthier, especially if you prefer it to HIIT. And remember, you can always add sprints to boost your metabolic rate and calorie burn, and maximise your cardio benefits. Just be careful doing this if running on a treadmill or cycling outdoors. Whilst sprints are excellent for your health, high speed collisions or being embedded in your gym wall are not. Without doing sprints, however, it wont raise your metabolic rate as much so you will have to go for twice as long, and probably eat less, to create an equivalent calorie deficit for your body. Either way you should do some strength training work on top if you want to prevent muscle loss whilst losing weight. This is still an excellent approach to good health, but all in all, very time consuming and possibly expensive on the strength training side of things.
Enjoyment. Variety. Therapeutic.
Some people just enjoy it or find it therapeutic. Some people just like more variety. After all, variety helps keep things sustainable and sustainability is the key to results. There are seven days in a week. You don't have to only do HIIT for all seven of them. It's just that with HIIT alone you know you have all the bases covered in the shortest time possible. For optimal fat burn and muscle improvement at the same time, HIIT is significantly more effective than steady state cardio. It will also give you excellent added anaerobic benefits, as well as aerobic, and greater improve your insulin sensitivity, helping you to both lose weight and tone up more effectively, in a much shorter space of time, and from the comfort of your own home. But that isn't to say that you shouldn't do other forms of training too, such as lifting weights to further stimulate muscle growth or go for the odd run or cycle when you have more time to do so. Both bring their own added benefits to the table as well. It's all good.
Burn fat and tone up with The 4 Minute Max Outs
The 4 Minute Max Outs has all the variety and customisation you require to keep your HIIT sessions fun and effective. You don't need much space and can do it all from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere you please, anytime you see fit. As The 4 Minute Max Outs require no equipment and can be stacked and customised in 4 minute blocks, they are also perfectly accessible to everyone. If your ability is low you can build up your session gradually. If your ability is high, you can push yourself to the limit and beyond for as long as you like. Whoever you are, what ever your goal, The 4 Minute Max Outs will help you get the results you want. Fast.