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Shuttle runs and sprints are a prime example of high-intensity cardio.
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The belly and midsection is an area many people tend to carry a higher proportion of fat mass. Not only can this dent your confidence and bring your physique down, but it's also potentially dangerous. The more belly fat you have, the higher your risk of diabetes, heart disease and blood pressure, according to Robert Ross of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Along with a healthy, calorie-controlled diet, one way to reduce your belly fat is by adding high-intensity cardio into your routine.
What is High-Intensity Cardio?
High-intensity cardio, also known as high-intensity interval training -- or HIIT for short -- is a method of planning your cardio workouts to combine short bouts of very tough exercise with longer, slower, slightly easier periods of exercise. A typical high-intensity cardio session would involve a light to moderate warm-up, followed by high-intensity work and low-intensity work in a one-to-three ratio. Your high-intensity periods should be performed as hard as possible, lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes.
The Fat-Burning Zone
Traditionally lower-intensity cardio, performed for sustained durations, has often been recommended for fat burning. While it is the case that working at lower intensities causes you to burn a higher percentage of your calories from fat, you burn far fewer calories overall, notes strength coach Marc Perry of Built Lean. Additionally, working at low intensities has no after-burn effect. This after-burn effect relates to the number of calories burned after your workout as your body repairs itself. High-intensity cardio has a much greater after-burn, making it more conducive for fat loss.
Stubborn Spot Reduction
Your belly may be the area you most want to lose fat from, but despite your best efforts, losing fat from just one particular area is impossible. Trainer Bret Contreras writes on his website that while you can build muscle in certain areas by training them directly, the same doesn't apply to losing fat. He goes on to add that to lose stubborn fat, the keys are eating in a calorie deficit, eating healthily, lifting weights, moving more and increasing your metabolism through high-intensity activities.
Despite the fact that you can't spot reduce stubborn fat, high-intensity cardio still plays a huge role in increasing your caloric expenditure and speeding up belly fat loss. Good examples of high-intensity cardio include hill sprints, stair sprints and intervals on the rowing machine, elliptical or bike. You could also add kettlebell and body-weight metabolic circuits, along with short-distance timed races such as 400-meter runs or 100-meter swims into your workout routine.