How To Lose Unwanted Body Fat...
After several years of successfully training elite athletes as well as the general fitness population, I have come to realize that EVERYONE is interested in losing body fat! I also noticed that there is some controversy on the best way of doing so. Most research states that to effectively burn body fat you must choose a particular modality (type of cardiovascular exercise) and perform it for at least 20 minutes at a moderate intensity level.
While this certainly holds true for most beginner fitness enthusiasts, I am convinced there are more efficient ways to reduce body fat for elite athletes and general fitness enthusiasts in "great" cardiovascular shape. Over the last few years I have been experimenting with different approaches/modalities to satisfy and/or meet the needs of this specific group of clients.
I developed a High Intensity Conditioning (HIC) method that is basically an off-shoot of our strength training philosophy, High Intensity Training (also referred to as HIT). The main concept of HIT is to reach maximal muscular fatigue (the point at which no further repetitions can be completed by the lifter) during every set while trying to maintain proper form and technique. This means taking the primary muscle involved in the exercise to absolute "failure." The same approach can hold true for cardiovascular conditioning.
The goal is to work at a higher intensity levels to burn more calories in less time (which will equate to more body fat being lost). In order for this approach to be effective, it has to be progressive in its overloading process which means that you need to start and an appropriate level and build from there. Once a baseline has been established, you should gradually increase speed, incline, resistance and/or time as you become better conditioned.
The human body has the ability to adapt to any stressor (exercise) placed upon it, which means you have to progressively overload to continue to get results. Walking on the treadmill at 3.5 MPH for 30 minutes would probably be beneficial for most beginners in regard to caloric expenditure, cardiovascular conditioning and burning body fat. But, over time you will need to increase the intensity (your body adapts to the 3.5 MPH for 30 minutes) to continue to achieve results.
NOTE: This method of High Intensity Conditioning is meant for those who are in advanced cardiovascular shape and do not have any pre-existing cardiovascular conditions that limit their ability to safely exercise.
The goal of HIC is to keep the heart rate at a higher percentage of your maximal predicted heart rate (75-85% of MPHR). In order to do this, you must implement recovery periods in the workout (you can't run at full speed the whole time!). The grid below outlines a sample treadmill workout. The time frame is done minute by minute, while adjusting speed and/or incline to effect heart rate and the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE).
Rating of perceived exertion in this model will be done on a scale of 1- 10 (1- low intensity, 5- moderate intensity, and 10- high intensity). Note the progression of intensity involved in the 20-minute workout. This particular workout was done by one of our elite female soccer players in her third month of her off-season training program. It was also completed by one of our general fitness clients who trained with us for 9 months.
Sample H.I.C. Treadmill Workout
|Time (min)||Speed||Incline||Est. HR||RPE (1-10)|
Click here for a printable version!
Once you establish a baseline intensity level, the next goal is to challenge yourself by manipulating the variables involved: speed, incline or both. This will result in increased intensity. Please realize as you get in better cardiovascular condition, the speed and/or incline may be increase but the RPE should either remain the same or decrease. Also know that High Intensity Conditioning can be performed using modalities other than the treadmill; stationary bike, elliptical, stair stepper, stadium runs, hills.