In Part 1 of this series, we dispelled some of the most common myths regarding fat loss nutrition. I kicked off the series with this particular topic because most fitness and fat loss “watchdogs” believe that the majority of misinformation in the entire industry revolves around nutrition.
Although I agree with that assessment, there are also several other areas of horrible, misleading and sometimes dangerous misinformation that, in virus like fashion, are being spread from the industry’s “experts” to fat loss hopefuls around the world.
In this post, we will cover one of the biggies- fat loss cardio. Boy, have things changed over the years regarding this topic. You see, there was a time when a trainer would be considered a hero if he convinced his/her client to walk for 20 minutes three days per week.
But these days, most trainers will throw themselves on the ground in front of a walking body, in protest of this type of exercise. Why is this? Well, apparently, traditional cardio is useless and there is a “new and improved” way to do your cardio. Enter high intensity interval training (HIIT).
For those of you who don’t know, HIIT involves alternating bouts of difficult and easy exercise. For example, a HIIT workout on a stationary bike could involve alternating between 60 seconds of hard work at level 5 with 60 seconds of easy pedaling at level 1. This protocol would allow for a greater overall workout intensity and thus, better training results. Studies have shown that this style of training is far superior to traditional cardio. Compared head to head, HIIT appears to increase metabolic rate, burn more fat and improve conditioning levels better than conventional cardio workouts. Sounds great, right? Maybe we have finally stumbled upon the fat-loss Holy Grail!
Or…maybe we haven’t. I will admit that a few years ago, I myself was bitten by the HIIT bug. With an overwhelming amount of research behind it and the highest endorsements from the most well respected experts in the field, HIIT won me over! Of course, as soon as I was under its spell, I quickly subjected my guinea pigs (clients) to this style of training on a regular basis.
The results of my experiments were disappointing, especially compared to the results I had become accustomed to throughout my career, using my own methods. In fact, I found that the most accepted protocols for HIIT actually resulted in all of the negative side effects associated with cardio. These side effects include:
? – Increased cortisol levels (never a fun realization)
? – Poor compliance (because HIIT sucks to do. It feels more like punishment)
? – Catabolic effects (muscle loss. Leave the gym feeling flat and emaciated)
? – Decreases in power output (you can feel yourself getting weaker every workout)
These side effects need to be minimized or avoided altogether if sustainable results are your goal. So out with traditional HIIT! And enter Alvino-style cardio…
My style of fat burning cardio was developed by accident. You see, I have a background in bodybuilding and power-based athletics (the two leanest demographics on the planet). The leanest bodybuilders simply walk for their cardio workout while power athletes predominantly engage in short sprints. After years of experimenting with both types of protocols, I actually found that the combination of both complement each other perfectly.
In Alvino-style cardio, real sprint workouts (not some junk training on a treadmill) are really the key to your success. They contribute to power output, athletic ability, fat burning and muscle building. They also require you to perform mobility work, which is so important yet so commonly neglected.
However, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. If you were to sprint too frequently, you would eventually over-train your legs and nervous system. This type of overtraining would interfere with your ability to strength train. Since strength training is a critical piece to the fat loss puzzle, any interference with it must be avoided.
One way to prevent overtraining from sprinting would be to totally rest in between sprint workouts. But we can do better than that. We can actually burn extra calories (and thus, extra fat) during the recovery phase while encouraging our bodies to recuperate faster. This can be best accomplished by doing a low intensity exercise. This is where walking comes in.
My advice to you is to engage in a sprint workout 2-3 days per week and walk 2-3 days per week. Be sure to rest at least one day in between sprint workouts. Here is a sample schedule:
Monday- Acceleration Sprints
Wednesday- Max Velocity Sprints
Friday-Cone Drill Sprints
Saturday- Walk (optional)
There you have it. Stop doing traditional HIIT workouts on cardio machines. Start living on both extremes of the intensity spectrum (walk and sprint) and finally get the results you deserve!
Stay tuned for part 3 where I will put an end to the biggest current fitness myths. Hint: it involves abdominal training.
Dedicated to your success,