By Taylor Robbins, C.S.C.S
You desperately want to lose more body fat and tone up, and you heard that cardio is one of the best ways to do that.
Who likes the mundane and boring experience of running on a treadmill for and hour 3 days a week? I know NO ONE!
Wouldn’t you like to know a better way that’s more effective and takes less time and is more fun?
You have probably heard of HIIT which stands for High Intensity Interval Training. Many experts, coaches, and the like are talking about this mode of “cardio”.
If you have not read it before, we did an article on “Death to Cardio” because steady-state cardio really does not help women lose fat at all. This may answer for you why you have not seen more fat loss and weight loss yourself; you do too much cardio.
The way we program conditioning for female fat loss is very strategic and intentional. One of these strategies is called SHIIT which stands for Super High Intensity Interval Training.
We stole this coined phrase from Dr. Eric Serrano, a well versed nutritionist and expert himself, because it’s funny and it makes a lot of sense.
Before giving you the exact strategy, it helps for you to know why you should do this, and not your traditional cardio you have been doing. Knowing the “why” gives gives you access to more implementation.
First of all, women are highly stressed creatures.
You likely work a full-time job, have some kids, manage a romantic relationship, and you get this fun little thing called a period every month. Stress.
Because of an influx of poor information via the web and social media, women have been convinced they need to do hours of cardio every week. Wrong.
Cardio, which is basically a steady-state low intensity jog or quick run for 45 minutes and beyond raises your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone from your adrenal gland which fights inflammation in the body, but also signals proteins and fats and glucose to be created and/or broken down into the blood. The caveat to this is when you chronically secrete cortisol from constant daily stress, poor sleep, and now adding hours of cardio, you form insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance means you stop using nutrients properly and you hold onto fat more tightly. Not to mention, steady-state cardio in the “fat-burning” zone for more than 12 minutes leads to less fat utilization for energy. Basically, you are a fat accumulating machine when stressed and doing cardio.
The first fix is to manage stress and improve sleep. This can sometimes mean working out less than you do now can improve fat loss.
Wait a minute, did I just say workout less to lose fat?
Yes, if you are fighting stress hormonally and at the cellular level, you will have diminishing returns from exercise, especially because women are more prone to overtraining than men.
Moral of the story here…do much less cardio.
Because you want to burn AS MUCH FAT as possible, you need to manipulate the energy systems appropriately. This means you deplete your “high end” energy substrates first, then your “medium end” substrates, which will leave you with “low end” substrates to burn which is your fat cells.
How can you do this using SHIIT.
First, choose an exercise mode based on your physical abilities, age, and confidence. You can choose hill sprints, flat sprints, jump-rope, a rower, stairs, or some sort of repetitive motion exercise.
After choosing this, you should warm-up. I will use flat sprinting as an example to discuss this.
Do a combination of static stretches and dynamic stretches (we prefer dynamic stretching before exercise to excite the muscles before going into work) for 3 minutes.
Then, run about 800 meters at a low intensity for 4-5 minutes.
First round of high intensity sprints
Next, you will complete 4 sprints each lasting :10. This ten second sprint must be like you’re running from a pack of hungry wolves. After each sprint, walk back using about :60 of time. This is a 4 minute and 40 second set.
Second round of high intensity sprints
Next, you will complete 4 sprints each lasting :05. Again, although it’s 5 seconds, they should be so hard you feel like a lung might come out your throat. Walk back using :30-:60 between each sprint. This is a 4 minute and 20 second set.
Fat burning time
By this time, your body has been depleted of glycogen, glucose, creatine phosphate, and ATP from the very intense bouts of energy output which leaves only fats as a suitable energy source. You can now do 2 sprints each lasting 3 minutes each. These sprints are obviously not as intense or fast as the first two rounds, because who can all out sprint for 3 minutes. It will simply be a fast-paced jog, but you still push yourself. This will be an 8 minute set.
The SHIIT workout in this example is a 26 minute workout total, with only 8 minutes of actual running time.
Warm-up: stretch and light jog- 5 minutes
Sprints: 4 sets of :10 sprints
Sprints: 4 sets of :05 sprints
Run: 2 sets of 3 minute runs
Pretty cool right?
This type of workout can be heightened for fat loss with fasting (go into the workout fasted with only 5-10g of amino acids in your system).
Even cooler is you only need to do this workout 1 to 3 times a week based on your individuality and weight training frequency.
You will probably go from 4 to 5 hours of cardio a week to 8 minutes a week, and lose tons more fat.
Stay tuned for the next part of this series which will be Part 3: Strength Training for Tone and Definition.
By Taylor Robbins, C.S.C.S