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The Cure for Boring Cardio

The Cure for Boring Cardio
Put Your Body Fat on Notice with High-Intensity Interval Training

We all want to burn more fat, but the thought of cardio can leave us feeling ill. For anaerobic types who are used to going hard, resting and going again, the thought of pounding away on a treadmill is less than inviting.  This is why the research behind interval training is welcome news to the ears of gym rats everywhere.  

A recent study published in the American Journal of Physiology had eight healthy men perform four 30-second sprints on an exercise cycle.  This test is called a Wingate and is frequently used in exercise science research to measure the power production and anaerobic capacity of exercising athletes.  Thirty seconds may not sound like a long time, but when the cycle is set to a standardized resistance against your body weight, this brief amount of time can seem much longer!  

After each of the sprints, four minutes of rest was provided and a muscle sample was obtained before and immediately after the exercise as well as three hours and twenty-four hours after the sprints were completed.  If you add this up, you are talking about two minutes of work total!  If you add in the rest periods, the entire workout should last around 20 minutes (which includes a brief warm-up).  Don't view this as a shortcut or taking the easy way out because this workout is tough.  Similar protocols have been studied and they regularly increase the maximal fitness capacity and improve the metabolism of those who complete high-intensity intervals when compared to traditional bouts of cardio.  

Aside from this type of cardio workout being more challenging and enjoyable, it also results in significant improvements in a number of markers that all work to burn fat.  All fat burning processes take place inside the mitochondria of a muscle cell.  The mitochondria is the "powerhouse" or "engine" of each cell and when mitochondria are functioning well the body can produce more energy and burn more fat.  As it turns out, just one bout of high-intensity interval cycle training results in significant improvements in the production of several different factors that all work to increase the production of more mitochondria.  More better functioning mitochondria = more fat burning.
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Getting Started
How do you get started?  First, it's ideal if you have some form of fitness base already established. From there, intervals can easily be started by using an exercise cycle or a treadmill (a cycle is preferred for newbies to help prevent injuries).  Put the bike on the manual program and increase the resistance to a level where you can sprint for 30 consecutive seconds.  By sprint, I mean maintain a pedal speed somewhere between 100 - 120 rpm.  After each sprint you should rest for several minutes (3 - 4) and then do it all over again.


The first week do it four times, next week five sprints, then six, seven and eight.  No rules exist to say you have to do this identical workout, but the key is maximal intensity and studies suggest you need to sprint for somewhere between 30 - 60 seconds.  The beauty of this type of workout is it feeds the mentality of many guys who grew up playing sports with intermittent bouts of maximal activity and it is an awesome workout which will improve your fitness and increase fat burning in your body.  Now get sprinting!