There is a simple method to burning more fat while doing cardio; rest more!! That’s right, back off the long, slow, fasted cardio (fallacy 1), WODs and tabata (fallacy 2) in favor of these work hard, rest hard & repeat strategies. The fallacies presented in this article are common industry practices that work, BUT may not be maximizing fat burning. The methods and exercises listed are simple to execute and the best bang for your buck metabolic methods I’ve ever used; they specifically and effectively torch fat and minimize total workout time.

Let’s put this into perspective first. Take a look at this video regarding the Fat Burning Fallacy #BCPTI #RQ). Have you ever seen a soft sprinter or bodybuilder?? Beyond genetics, nutrition and food intake, the major reason for them being year round lean without doing cardio is fat burning while they rest between sets of exercise.

It’s a fairly simple concept. Interval, HITT style cardio is designed to stimulate all 3 major systems of the body; the nervous system, circulatory system & fascial system. Full tri-system stimulation maximizes hormonal outputs, muscle fatigue, and micro trauma; all important parts of any fat burning, inch crushing program. Bodybuilders and sprinters naturally perform work hard – rest hard intervals and therefore are living, breathing proof that this system works. But, they do so at the expense of challenging their heart rate sufficiently, and therefore often don’t accrue the overwhelming health benefits of a strong cardiovascular system. The methods below, incorporate the best of bodybuilding / sprinter training while adding enough cardio challenge to ensure maximum circulatory & health benefit. The most important aspects of interval based training are:

  1. Involve larger muscles, primarily using kinetic chain / full body movements. Another viable option is to alternate between upper & lower dominant movements
  2. Use moderate to high intensities (see graphic). Each of the following can be progressed to challenge cardio challenge: velocity, range of motion, heart rates and external resistance.
  3. Understand RQ’s impact burning total and fat calories (see video link above).
  4. Become a slave to work & rest. Although we use 1:1 for newbies, a 1:2-4 work to rest interval (also known as an anaerobic lactate interval) maximizes fat & calorie burning simultaneously. (i.e. 10 sec speed ladder drill : 20 sec slow walk back & repeat)
  5. Active Recovery: although activities on the bottom of the graphic are best for HITT based training, generally they can’t be performed on consecutive days and require between 24 & 72hr rest between workouts. However, lower intensity, lower impact activities (i.e. top of the graphic) are often great ways to add in for fat burning on non HITT days.

No, you’re not reading a late night Info Blog. Interval training is all the pound shedding rage, even amongst fitness competitors, and it works. But there are a few common cardio related fat burning fallacies that should be addressed.

Fallacy #1: fasted morning cardio. Sure it has a purpose but it’s mentally draining and can take up 3x longer to get the same fat burning, calorie expending benefits of HITT intervals. Stop the fasting, eat a few more carbs, and then walk into the morning HITT training with energy and mental focus. Yup that’s right, that slow, fasted, snoozefest, cardio crap most people put themselves through every morning before the crack of dawn isn’t as effective as eating a well-balanced, whole foods meal and turbo charging your morning cardio #fatburningfallacy.

Fallacy #2: WODs and Tabata are anaerobic, fat burning events. Cardio intervals work, but only if you actually rest hard, work hard and repeat. More than ever, when interval junkies do them, they often don’t rest enough. Why?? A big reason is the advent of WODS and Tabata based training. Both activities primarily use the aerobic system (i.e. moderate cardio heart rates using semi continuous activity) which reduces the intensity of your workout. Tabata and WOD style workouts definitely work but they may not be optimizing the metabolic fire and often don’t maximize the calories burned after the workout ends (EPOC) or growth hormone outputs. Both of which have been shown to improve fat oxidation.

Just because there is an attached fallacy doesn’t mean that these methods don’t work; but there’s a catch.

  • Firstly, fat doesn’t burn effectively at WOD & tabata intensity – it’s mostly carbs!! The fat burns
  • Secondly, fats only take over when the energy is being used a very low intensity. This might lead you to believe that low intensity, fasted cardio is effective at burning fat. It is, but it takes an ungodly amount of time to burn the same amount of fat and intervals in a 1/3rd of the time. Enable

I have used the progressed variations of the programs outlined below to train some of Canada’s top Olympic & professional athletes. These programs bust fat safely and quickly. Bonus, the workouts below:

  • Burn more fat, 
  • are psychologically less draining, 
  • burn nearly as many cals in a 1/3rd of the time needed Vs long slow cardio 

Rx: Type: multidirectional intervals – speed, agility quickness (SAQ) training can and should be performed by the young, athlete and old alike.

Intensity: moderate (more than 4 weeks experience on a fitness program)

  • 75 – 85% of Max Heart Rate
  • 2-3x / wk for 9-30 min (i.e. 3-5 intervals)
  • 3-5 reps x 1.5-3min on 1.5-3min active rest (new to intervals start volume on the left)

Outdoor Summer Cardio (1.5 – 3 min work – same active rest)

  1. Mountain climbers (x15-30s) & Step-ups (x15-30s)

Rest up to 30 sec if needed

  1. Skipping (x30-60s)or multidirectional line hops (x10-20s /move)

Rest up to 30 sec if needed

  1. Butt kick (x15-30) & donkey kicks (x15-30s)

Active Rest for 3 min (core exercises are great)

Indoor Machine Cardio(1min / move)

  1. 30sec – 1 min on bike, treadmill or Stepper
  2. 30sec – 1 min 3 way battle ropes (see vid) or upper body ergometer
  3. 30sec – 1 min Rowing ergometer

Indoor Supervised Multidirectional SAQ Cardio

  1. 2×2 (~2 lengths/move) Ladder Drills (choose 2 of the 4 in this vid)
  2. Sled push (x2-4 lengths)
  3. Beginner focus mitt or heavy bag work

approx. 1 min / move

NB* there is a decent amount of idol time so it’s possible to perform various stretches, core or balance exercises during the rest period.

NB* this isn’t a 1:2-4 work to rest. People who are new to the multidirectional intervals in the video below, should start with lower intensities (velocity, distance etc) with a focus on building base cardio endurance for the 1st few weeks. After 4 weeks you can begin to safely bump the intensity.

Intensity: high HITT style movement

  • 80 – 95% of Max Heart Rate
  • 2-3x 10-20min
  • 15-30sec intervals with the remaining portion of the min being rest (i.e. 1 to 2 sets of 10x 60sec/interval)

Outdoor Summer Cardio (15-30 / move: choose 1 & Repeat)

  1. Power step-ups
  2. Advanced skipping or multidirectional hurdle hops (see vid)
  3. Jumping Butt Kickers

Indoor Machine Cardio(15-30 / move: choose 1 & Repeat)

  1. Bike, treadmill or stepper
  2. Adv battle ropes (see vid) or upper body ergometer
  3. Rowing ergometer

NB* high resistance / incline

Indoor Supervised Multidirectional SAQ Cardio (15-30 / move: choose 1 & Repeat)

  1. Ladder drills (choose 2 of the 4 in this vid x 1length)
  2. Sled push (x1-2 lengths)
  3. Adv focus mitt or heavy bag work

NB* there is a decent amount of idol time so it’s possible to perform various stretches, core or balance exercises during the rest period.

To summarize, the rest in between bouts of mod-high intensity work are key for fat burning. So, it’s time to work hard – rest hard – repeat with interval based training.