I was recently interviewed for an article by Men's Health Magazine on how to target the lower aspect of the abdomninals. Set foot in any gym and you’ll no doubt see cardio machines that have charts to help you train in your ‘fat burning zone’.
You see, the human body is a dynamic organism and constantly adjusts its use of fat for fuel.
Ideally, the activity that maximizes calorie burning is interval training, where short bouts of low intensity exercise are interspersed with high intensity bouts. Here’s the catch, though: EPOC is intensity dependent—the harder you train, the more calories you expend following training.
Although people tend to associate interval training with treadmill exercise, virtually any cardiovascular activity can be employed, including machines such as the stair climber, elliptical machine, and stationary bike. Brad Schoenfeld has a brilliant combination of technical expertise and in the trenches field experience. While I love hitting the road and running for miles and miles and miles, I know that many people prefer to get their runs done as quickly as possible.


The theory behind the concept is based on studies showing that the percentage of fat used as an energy source is optimized when you train at an intensity between 60 to 80 percent of your target heart rate. This process is governed by a host of factors (including enzyme levels, substrate availability, internal feedback loops, etc.). Interval training not only heightens fat burning during the activity itself, but also increases the amount of calories you burn after the workout is over!
That’s why you need to push yourself as hard as you can during your high-intensity intervals, going as close to all-out as possible. But while increasing the percentage of fat burned for fuel sounds like a great way to get lean, it unfortunately doesn’t translate into burning more fat on an absolute basis.
If you expend more calories than you consume, your body will shift to a fat burning mode and mobilize excess adipose as a source of energy. The most important aspect of shedding body fat is the total amount of calories burned—not the percentage of calories from fat—and therefore a higher intensity cardio routine is the better choice.
Thus, from a fat loss perspective, high-intensity exercise burns more fat calories on an absolute basis than lower intensity activities.


In final analysis, you’ll exert a good deal more effort in your training, but the results will be well worth it!
Interval training is more efficient than steady state cardio (going out and running at a comfortable pace for an hour). Moreover, there is an associated increase in the secretion of both growth hormone and noradrenaline—hormones that are integrally involved in the fat burning process—resulting in an increased utilization of fat of fuel. It also burns more fat and calories, allows you to preserve muscle mass, and increases your metabolism. All told, there is both a greater total amount of calories expended as well as a greater amount of fat oxidation following training.



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