by Nick Smith, Certified Personal Trainer, M.S., CSCS, USAW
Crunches, sit-ups, planks, dead bugs, the super crunch 3000 and insert-new-and-improved-core-exercise-here, do NOT remove body fat. Target fat loss does not work. I picked up a health and fitness magazine the other day with a fit woman showing off her washboard abs on the cover. The headline underneath said, “7 secrets to get a flat stomach.” I flipped to the article, which literally offered seven different variations of crunches and sit-ups. Lies!
When you do cardio at low-intensity, you burn a high percentage of fat. The key word in that sentence is percentage. When you do sprint intervals, you burn a lower percentage of fat. Again, percentage is the key word. Here's the kicker: Sprint intervals burn MORE fat. Notice how there was no percentage word in there? That’s because when you do sprint intervals you are working a lot harder than when doing low-intensity cardio. So, even though your percentage of fat being used is lower in sprint intervals, you’re still burning more actual fat compared to low-intensity cardio exercises.
Your body puts on fat in a very specific order, according to your specific DNA code. For example: legs, then hips, stomach, face, and neck. When you want to get rid of that body fat, it comes off in reverse order. In this particular case; first the neck, then face, stomach, hips, and finally legs.
Want to REALLY know how to get rid of your belly fat, your thigh fat, your insert-body-part-here fat? Sprints. Sprint intervals, to be more exact. In this case, a sprint doesn’t just mean running fast. You can hop on a bike and “sprint” and rest and sprint over and over to make it an interval. The same goes for a rowing machine, bike or even an elliptical. Whatever it is you choose, do it fast for a short amount of time, then rest for a short amount of time, and repeat. The same idea can be implemented with different exercises, or circuits. For instance, choose a couple of exercises that you can do quickly and safely. Go through the workout fast, rest, and repeat. This is the biggest bang for your buck to get rid of FAT. Listed below are some time and rest intervals that will kick-start your body into fat-burning hyper drive! (Make sure you warm up first):
:: 15-second sprint, 40-second rest x 12 reps
:: 30-second sprint, 60-second rest x 10 reps
:: 60-second sprint, 120-second rest x 8 reps
If you are just starting out on your fitness quest, first stick to low-intensity cardio exercises and build on that for a while; maybe work your way up to sprint intervals every other day. Now, GO!