Whenever you think about weight loss, what is the first thing that evolves into your mind? Most of the people think about those hours of boring and exhaustive cardio sessions.
Cardio is definitely a fabulous way to lose those extra pounds but its not everyone’s cup of tea. Cardio seems like slow torture to some people and others don’t seem to get enough time for daily cardio sessions. Interval running is the best way to cut down that stubborn fat (without spending hours), many studies on interval training have confirmed it to be a more reliable way of achieving fat loss without investing in hours of cardio.
Interval training pattern has been adopted by top fitness trainers to deliver the accelerated fat loss transformation to clients. Interval training is an effective way to burn maximum calories in the lowest possible time, and we are going to talk about every aspect of interval training for weight loss through this article.
Before we talk about interval running its important to know the types of running patterns, let’s have a look.
Types of running
Professional athletes are trained to mix up their training pattern to achieve improved body conditioning. Running can be classified broadly into three types:
- Tempo running
- Fartlek running
- Interval running
A type of running most of the people prefer to achieve fat loss. Tempo running is also known as threshold running. The concept of “tempo running” is simple here, you maintain a running pace that is little hard to maintain but slow enough to be sustained for 20-30 minutes.
In other words, you put your body outside its comfort zone – you can hear your breathing, but you’re not gasping for air.
Your pace of tempo running can be different from others, it will depend on your cardiovascular health, weather, wind speed, terrain, etc.
Tempo running is best suitable for people looking for long-running sessions.
Tempo Runs Benefits: apart from developing cardiovascular strength, it helps in the development of mental strength. A great way to burn extra 300-500 calories to create a caloric deficit.
Is that what you have been practicing daily to get into the best shape? Stay with us to discover other types of running.
A more fun way to burn daily calories. The word ‘fartlek’ is a Swedish term which means ‘speed play’.
It’s basically a mixture of tempo run and sprints. The principal of fartlek running it to adapt the body to the different intensity and pace of running for better body conditioning and performance.
The beauty of fartlek running resides within its unstructured pattern, you start with the tempo running for a quick warm-up and then you do a sprint for short period (maybe to that coming tree or sigh board), once sprinting to that targeted landmark you continue to tempo run until you feel ready for another sprint.
Basically it’s a fun way to work out where you keep the workout interesting by challenging your body again and again for longer sprints.
I personally love to run fartlek with a workout partner, that can help in pushing through the limits.
Benefits of Fartlek: Stress-free workout that improves mind-body awareness, mental strength, body conditioning, and accelerated fat loss.
Sprint training or High-Intensity Interval running
You don’t really need to confuse yourself with the two terminologies, they both are the same.
While tempo running and Fartlek running trains your slow-twitch muscles, Sprint training helps in training fast-twitch muscle groups.
Fast-twitch muscles groups are the muscle tissues responsible for a short burst of energy, they have less endurance but are capable of delivering a powerful burst of energy.
On the other hand, slow-twitch muscles are more capable of doing endurance works.
Sprinting means running at the top speed for very short duration or distance. Commonly, interval runs last for 20-30 seconds and followed by 90 seconds of the rest period. It’s recommended to perform for 8-10 rounds.
What made interval training so effective?
There are various studies available that prove the effectiveness of interval training over moderate-intensity training.
A study (2) conducted to compare the effects of interval training and moderate-intensity continuous training (MOD) on body adiposity in humans found whooping 28.5% of greater fat reduction in comparison to MOD.
Another study (3) conducted on the effectiveness of High-intensity interval training with intermittent training found it a highly effective way to lose fat.
There are numerous reasons behind the success of the interval training pattern. Here are some of the reasons behind its success.
It improves testosterone levels:
HIIT produces increases in muscle power and free testosterone in male masters athletes (4). Improvement in free-testosterone levels leads to better strength and endurance. Boost in testosterone levels leads to a boost in metabolic process and preservation of muscle mass.
The afterburn effects:
The process is scientifically known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
This afterburn effect helps in elevating the metabolic stress for up to 24 hours post-workout. This means your body burns more calories after a workout.
what is the afterburn effect or EPOC? After an intense session of interval training, your body needs to spend a lot of energy to bring the body’s system back to normal. Replenishing oxygen levels, blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, etc. Additionally, fueling muscles, repairing damaged muscle tissues, and shuttle out lactic acid, among other things.
Although the effectiveness of EPOC might differ from person to person but it is found to increase the metabolic rate for up to 4.2% for 16 hours post-workout (5). Another study (6) shows after-burn effects might last for up to 24 hours.
It helps in muscle development
High-intensity interval training is found to improve muscle mass in individuals (7, 8). This improvement in muscle mass can helps in improving the body’s natural metabolism. The development of new muscle fibers also leads to superior performance.
1 pound of muscle burns an extra 50 calories a day while at rest, So if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, your resting metabolic rate (RMR) soars by an extra 500 calories each day
How Often Should You Practice Interval Running?
It really depends on the intensity and time you are willing to dedicate to your personal fitness.
- If you are a daily runner then adding 5 rounds of high-intensity sprints at the end of your daily run can help in better conditioning.
- Regular gym-goers can choose to dedicate a 15-minute session to interval running 3-4 times a week for accelerated fat loss and get rid of belly fat fast.
- If you are a busy bee with a strict daily routine then dedicating 30 minutes for 5 days a week can help you stay in shape.
Read through the important elements of interval training to keep it fun and interesting.
Elements of Interval Training
Basically, interval training works incredibly well to trim down body fat, but its effectiveness depends on some basic elements that we are going to discuss now.
1. Intensity of workout
Interval running is not some magical workout that meltdown fat. Your result depends on the intensity of the workout and how long you can push your body.
Researchers at the University of New South Wales Medical Sciences studied the difference in the outcome of steady state cardio and high-intensity intermittent exercises.
Group of volunteers was divided into two groups, one group followed high-intensity intermittent bike sessions, they sprinted for 8 seconds followed by 12 seconds of rest- for a total of 20-minutes. Another group performed 40 minutes of steady-state cardio for 40-minutes.
Researchers found the increased fat-loss for up to three times more. HIIT group was found to have lost 2.5 kg of subcutaneous fat, the steady-state cardio group found to have no difference in fat percentage.
In short, Maintaining high-intensity interval training will lead to faster fat metabolism, improved lean muscle mass, and better afterburn effects.
2. Number of intervals
Greater number of intervals = Better fat burn. You will be pushing your body to its limits for every round.
So if you are doing hill sprinting then pushing yourself for 10 rounds can do wonders to burn any kind of stubborn fat.
Newbies can start with 5 rounds and then work on gradually increasing the number of rounds.
3. Duration of interval
The best interval duration depends on personal fitness. You need to find your sweet spot of perfect interval duration.
A perfect sweet spot can range from 10 seconds to 30 seconds. Running more than 30 seconds in a single interval means you are running too slow, try running at 80-95% of your top speed.
To maintaining long-lasting fat loss effects, allow your body to step out of its comfort zone. If running for 15 seconds is getting easier then target for 20 seconds of the interval at the same speed.
Are you getting a longer recovery time?
Shortening the recovery duration is also a great way to avoid a plateau.
If you were sprinting for 15 seconds and recovery time for 45 seconds, then the new time should be 20 seconds of sprinting and 40 seconds of recovery.
Guru mantra is to keep pushing the limits of the body to experience incredible afterburn effects.
Although it’s fun to do interval training in outdoors but treadmills allow you to have more versatility within your workout.
Treadmills allow you different incline options that allows you to add a variable in your training. Additionally, your workout won’t be affected by the outside weather.
Starting an interval running for weight loss can be quite difficult for many people.
Staying easy on the body and gradually increasing the workout intensity is a key to injury-free weight loss journey.
For fitness newbies, you can start with some steady-state running or brisk walking for a few miles and then doing a few rounds of interval training. This strategy will help you develop higher endurance without getting over-exhausted in your initial days.
Thanks for reading. Questions are welcomed in the comments as always. This site contains affiliate links as well as general health and fitness information. Please read my Medical Disclaimer and Writing Disclaimer for more information.