The Real Truth Behind Cardio and High Intensity Interval Training for Weight Loss

There is too much misinformation circulating online regarding the truth of the impact of aerobic exercise on body fat management. It hard cutting through the overwhelming and contradictory information from the so called experts on the information highway and finding the actual truth of the matter.

Serious bodybuilders incorporate some form of cardio workouts into their routines for developing cardiovascular fitness and it also helps them increase their endurance capacity. An effective fat loss training program combines both regular aerobic exercise as well as weight training along with dieting or caloric restriction. These are the three cornerstones of body fat management.

Though strength training has plenty of benefits, cardio burns more fat per minute than strength training. Indisputably, aerobic exercisers lose more weight in less time as compared to strength trainers. But, the major drawback of using cardio for weight loss is that most people get bored with the repetitive nature of cardiovascular workouts. They are time-consuming in nature and many people have trouble finding enough time in their day for extensive workouts.

The solution to these problems is to incorporate interval training into your cardio workouts. By combining short bursts of intense activity into your regular workout, you can squeeze more from your workouts and burn more calories in much less time.

How Does Interval Training Really Work?


The basic idea behind interval training is to condition your muscles, your nervous system, and your cardiovascular system by pushing your body to its limits.

A simple explanation is that during HIIT workouts the body switches back and forth between aerobic and anaerobic states. During the light to moderate stages, oxygen is available to the body and our body uses glycogen and fat as fuel. You can sustain an aerobic workout for long periods. During the anaerobic exercise phase, the body enters into a metabolic threshold and lactic acid is produced as a by-product. The accumulating lactic acid creates a burning sensation in the muscles and leads to fatigue. This discomfort caused by lactic acid is the reason you cannot sprint for long without a break. Anaerobic activities, though are difficult to sustain, helps build lean muscle. When you switch back to the aerobic state, the body recovers and given adequate time, removes the metabolic wastes from the muscles. Now you are ready for the next round of sprinting.

HIIT or High-intensity interval training workouts are quite challenging. As can be understood from its very name, it is not a constant workout such as cycling or jogging steadily for thirty minutes. You can do any cardio activity like cycling, swimming or running, but you must work in intervals of high intensity spaced with low-intensity recuperation periods. This helps your body get more used to the stress resulting in an increase of certain hormones such as testosterone and other anabolics. This helps you become stronger and gain more stamina in a short period of time. The more consistent you are in your HIIT workouts, the more you will be able to decrease the rest periods and increase the high-intensity periods resulting in you becoming a lean mean fat burning machine.

Different Types of Interval Training

Start off with regular interval training if you are new to this. This involves short bursts of higher intensity workouts with longer low-intensity intervals. As you progress, you can attempt the next type of interval training which includes high-intensity workouts with moderate intensity intervals, rather than low-intensity ones. The Swedish interval training method, Fartleks involves running at full sprint till the athlete’s perceived exertion level and then jogging at a slow pace until he catches his breath. Then he sprints again and the cycle continues. You can also time this one by sprinting all out for a minute and then allowing recuperation for 15 seconds before sprinting again.


The major difference between HIIT workouts and regular interval training is the period of recovery. With regular interval training, the intervals are of a low intensity and they tend to be for a much longer time as compared to the burst of high to moderate intensity phases. A runner breaks out into a sprint and then he may walk instead of jogging or he may even stop. In HIIT workouts, the high-intensity period is alternated with an active recovery period. This means you have to maintain a moderate pace while you breathe in the oxygen and allow the body to recover. This ensures that you switch back and forth the aerobic and anaerobic state, but your body is prevented from recovering completely and the heart rate is kept high during the entire workout session, thus maximizing the calorie burn.

You can apply this principle to any cardio activity, not just running. If you can stick to it, HIIT workouts can yield fantastic results. Experiment and see what approach works best for you. The right approach will considerably boost both your strength and stamina while transforming your body.

The Benefits of Interval Training


The more intense the exercise, the better the benefits. As you alternate between extreme effort and moderate effort, your body learns to use the anaerobic system more efficiently. As your heart rate climbs higher, more energy gets used, you burn more calories. As the body adapts to the short aerobic intervals of low or moderate intensity workouts, it becomes more efficient at metabolizing muscle wastes, leading to fewer muscle cramps and aches, thus increasing your endurance.

With HIIT workouts, your body becomes more efficient in handling oxygen. You learn to breathe deeply increasing the amount of oxygen you pump into the body with each breath. This ensures more oxygen supply to your muscles. You will eventually be able to increase the lengths of your workouts before you start feeling out of breath.

The above-mentioned benefits will help you better perform any exercise you do, ensuring you reach your fitness goals more easily. But you need to be careful as this kind of intense training does involve some risks. Don’t jump in and start straight away, you may get injured. You must begin gradually and slowly lengthen and strengthen your intense sessions as your body adapts to the increased demands. Allow a day or days of rest in between sessions, as needed.

If you have a chronic health condition, it’s always advisable to consult your doctor before embarking on any new exercise routine.

About Tilottama Bose 48 Articles
With a Masters in Food Science and Nutrition, Tilottama has carved a niche for herself in the Health Writing Industry. She is passionate about helping her readers make informed decisions about the food they eat. She believes in the healing power of food and in food as medicine. Tilottama is an editor and writer at