How to lose fat with interval training

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So some of you may be asking… “What is interval training?”

Well basically, Interval training is a form of ‘cardio’ where you alternate between bursts of high intensity activity followed by lower intensity recovery periods.

For example, you might sprint on a bike for 30-60 seconds at nearly maximal effort then take 30-60 seconds of recovery where you peddle slowly, before repeating. You could also be sprinting fast for 30 seconds then walking slowly for 60 seconds. Typically you might repeat this anywhere from 6-12 times depending on your fitness levels. The idea here is that you’re getting your heart rate up, breathing heavily, and getting out of your comfort zone (intensity!).


Whilst low to moderate intensity cardio like jogging for 30-45 minutes (basically in your comfort zone) has always been popular amongst many people wanting to shed some kilos and improve cardiovascular fitness; it is far inferior to interval training when it comes to achieving these goals.

When it comes to calorie burning from exercise research shows that short, high-intensity aerobic sessions (like interval training) burn more calories than longer, lower-intensity aerobic workouts (like jogging). This is largely due to the ongoing metabolic effect that high intensity training has on the body. During long distance running you are burning calories but once you stop that’s it. After a session of higher intensity interval training your resting metabolic rate will be increased for approximately 24-48 hours. This means that you are burning away fat as a result of that single session for a long time afterwards, even when you’re sitting on the couch watching TV, which is a pretty good side effect if you ask me!

Interval training is also superior in terms of improving cardiovascular fitness. Longer, steady cardio can be great for somebody starting out who is not particularly fit, however after a certain point when we have reached a decent base level of fitness we start to get diminishing returns. The same 5km run you’re doing today may not be having the same effect as the 5km run you were doing 6 months ago. As your body adapts and gets fitter you’re actually getting LESS of a workout and LESS of a training effect doing the same training.

Interval training allows us to ALWAYS work at a high intensity, it never gets easy, and it also works our cardiovascular and energy systems on multiple levels during a workout. If you are training for a particular sport you can adjust the intervals to make your training much more specific to the demands of that particular sport; apart from long distance running, most sports involve bursts of high intensity activity amongst lesser intense periods, like: Tennis, football, basketball, martial arts, etc….

There are many different ways to go about interval training in terms of time variations, the type of activity we perform, and the intensity we train at.

 Some common ways to train are:

– 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m sprints
– Hill Sprints
– Bike sprints
– Rowing machine
– Bodyweight exercises
– Kettlebell swings
– X trainer
– Swimming
– Dragging, pushing sleds
– Boxing

The possibilities are endless!

You don’t have to be super fit to get started just use shorter ‘working’ intervals and longer rest breaks, work on improving every training session. The most important thing to do is to work hard and get out of your comfort zone, that way you’ll get the biggest metabolic effect and burn the most calories.

While it may not necessarily be the most pleasurable activity to perform; it can’t be disputed that it is a very effective and efficient way to train for fat loss, which is easily the most sought after goal amongst St Kilda residents I see at my personal training studio.

Ben Longley owns ‘The Fit Stop,’ a personal training and group training studio in St Kilda East, specialising in fat loss & real fitness results.

For more information about his services you can visit or you can contact him at

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