Why anaerobic interval training is the best training method for fat loss

February 12, 2010


Have you ever wondered what the best , most time efficient wat to lose fat is?

Have you been told totally different things about what is the best training method for fat loss?

Read this article from Ultrafit Magazine and it will hopefully clear this issue up for you.

Commonly, interval training has only been used as a time efficient way to increase anaerobic fitness or sport-specific power endurance in the final weeks before competition. However, new research on interval training has shown it to be a very efficient method of fat burning.

Consider some of the following on steady state aerobic training and fat loss:

  • A 1996 study showed that the addition of 5 x 45 minute sessions of aerobic training sessions per week for 12 weeks had no effect on fat loss.
  • A 2007 study showed that 5 x 50 minute of aerobic training per week for 6 months had no effect on fat loss.
  • A 2008 study showed that 3 x 40 minutes of aerobic exercise per week for 15 weeks actually resulted in a fat increase!

 And now consider the following about interval/anaerobic training and fat loss:

  • A 1994 study actually showed that interval training reduced body fat by nine times more than traditional cardio training, despite using few calories during the session and taking less time.
  • A 1999 study showed that the addition of a resistance training program to fat loss increased its effectiveness by 35% over diet and purely aerobic training.
  • The same study showed that 3 x 50 minute sessions of aerobic training for 12 weeks (36 sessions) increased fat loss by only 450g over diet alone.
  • The rise in metabolism after anaerobic training (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption – EPOC) results in further calories being burnt for up to 38 hours after the finish of the session.


The indicators are clear: this type of information should go a long way in helping fitness professionals design and implement effective fat loss programs. It’s not the workout – it’s the effect of that workout on EPOC.

EPOC is defined scientifically as the “recovery of metabolic rate back to pre-exercise levels”. It can require several minutes for light exercise and several hours for hard intervals.

In layman’s terms it means you keep burning calories at an increased rate after a workout.

If you can imagine a big forest fire, you understand that it doesn’t just burn for an hour and then burn out – it gradually burns out so that over time there is no fire anymore. The peak of the fire may have been a long time ago but there are still flames being produced for a long time afterwards.

We call this the afterburn – metabolic disturbance – elevating EPOC to maximise calorie burn for the 23+ hours per day. Is there much of a real world effect of burning 300 calories per workout (e.g. aerobic work) if we don’t elevate EPOC??

If we could elevate EPOC even an apparently insignificant ¼ of a calorie per minute for the 38 hours that the study showed, then that 31 minute resistance workout would burn maybe 300 calories during the session plus the extra 570 calories over the next 38 hours. That becomes very significant.

In the past, fitness professionals and researchers have looked at how much fat is burned during the exercise session itself. This is extremely short sighted.

As American conditioning guru Alan Aragon said “Caring how much fat is burned during training makes as much sense as caring how much muscle is built during training.”

Think about that. If we looked at a weight training session that started at 9am and finished at 10am – how much muscle would we see built if we stopped at 10am? None.

In fact we’d see muscle damage. We could make the conclusion that weight training does not increase muscle – in fact it decreases muscle, right? It’s only when we look at the big picture – and look at the recovery from the session – that we find the reverse is true – weight training builds muscle.

Fat loss is the same way. Someone talking about the benefits of the “fat burning zones” or “fasted cardio” is a sure sign that the individual has stopped looking at the end of the exercise session. They have come to the conclusion that, lower intensity steady state exercise burns the most fat and made the massive leap of faith to suggest it’s the best for fat loss.

Using that same logic, these same people would suggest avoiding weight training if you want to grow muscle.

Take home message – focus on the afterburn, not just what happens during the exercise session

There is another, more subtle reason why intervals are superior to steady state training.

The body does the opposite.

If you don’t drink enough water your body will retain it. If you drink too much water your body will excrete it.

Article from Ultrafit Magazine

Issue 123 Jan/Feb 2010


The risks of carrying excess weight

August 5, 2009

Being overweight causes a multitude of health problems: Are you at risk and what can you do about it to prevent these problems from occurring.

Insulin resistance

  • Insulin is the main hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar (glucose) levels.
  • Insulin is secreted from the pancreas in response to elevated blood sugar levels, to remove glucose from the blood.
  • Insulin also plays a role in fat storage.
  • Insulin resistance is where the insulin can’t effectively act on the cells to do it job properly, resulting in high insulin levels in the body.

Type 2 diabetes

  • Type 2 diabetes is categorised by high blood sugar levels, because the body isn’t using insulin properly.
  • Type 2 diabetes usually arises as a result of lifestyle factors such as being overweight or obese and inactive.
  • If not managed, glucose levels become too high and become destructive in the body increasing the risk of heart disease, stoke, circulatory problems, kidney damage, blindness, impotence and other health problems.
  • Losing weight and doing regular exercise improve the health implications associated with type 2 diabetes, as well as preventing the disease.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

  • PCOS is a hormonal condition in women, often accompanied by irregular or absent periods, infertility, acne, excessive hair growth or hair loss, weight gain (especially around the mid section) and difficulty losing weight.
  • Women with PCOS are more likely to have insulin resistance
  • Women with PCOS who are overweight/obese and inactive are at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • Blood pressure is the driving force that moves the blood through the circulatory system.
  • Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80
  • High blood pressure is when pressure exerted by the blood as it’s pumped through the arteries is high.
  • Equal to or more than 140/90 increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.

High cholesterol

  • Cholesterol is a fat related compound naturally produced in the liver, and is involved in many important bodily functions.
  • The problem with cholesterol occurs when we consume too many animal products such as eggs, meat, and cheese which can increase the level of cholesterol in the body.
  • Cholesterol is said to be good or bad: The good guys, HDL (high density lipoprotein), clean your arteries and have a protective effect in preventing heart disease. The bad guys, LDL (low density lipoprotein), are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
  • High levels of LDL are linked to atherosclerosis which is the build up of plaque on the artery walls.
  • Triglycerides also contribute to your total cholesterol score, and are dangerous bad fats and can be higher in people who drink a lot of alcohol and eat cholesterol rich foods such as cheeses, fried foods and biscuits.
  • Your doctor can test your cholesterol and tell you if it’s within the normal range.
  • Regular exercise has been shown to increase HDL and decrease LDL.

Sleep apnoea

  • Sleep apnoea is an interruption of natural breathing patterns while sleeping.
  • People with this sleeping disorder stop breathing for periods of time during sleep, waking up repeatedly as a consequence, sometimes hundreds of times a night.
  • Being overweight increases the risk of sleep apnoea, especially if the weight is carried heavily around the neck area.
  • Sleep apnoea is also linked to an increased risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease (CVD)

Lower limb pain and injury

  • Being overweight places enormous strain on the joints of your lower limbs, such as knees and ankles, just imagine loading an extra 20kg or more into your backpack and walking around all day and you might appreciate just how much extra pressure these body parts carry.
  • Joint pain is strongly associated with bodyweight.
  • Excess weight is a common cause for many lower limb injuries such as shin splints, patella tracking disorder and plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the plantar fascia which causes severe foot and heel pain).
  • Being overweight is a risk factor for osteoarthritis, particularly knee osteoarthritis.
  • Reducing your weight will obviously reduce the load placed on your joints therefore decreasing the likelihood of the above problems.

It’s one thing to know your overweight but it’s another to do something about it before it’s too late!

Why care about your weight?

August 3, 2009

It seems that the majority of people are obsessed about weight. We have weight loss TV shows, weight loss or weight gain issues fill celebrity magazines and obesity is a regular headline in the newspapers and on TV.

Weight is directly linked to our physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing. Being overweight or obese puts you at an increased risk of: heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, sleep apnoea, gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Your weight can determine your life expectancy, health and risk of disease. The goal of weight loss is to get you to a healthy weight to give you the best chance possible to live a long, happy and healthy life. Losing even a small amount of weight can lead to significant improvements in your physical, mental, emotional and social health.

Weight loss can:

Ÿ            Reduce blood pressure

Ÿ            Lower LDL levels (bad cholesterol)

Ÿ            Reduce risk of chronic disease such as heart disease

Ÿ            Prevent and/or manage type 2 diabetes

Ÿ            Increase your life expectancy

Ÿ            Improve your self-esteem

Ÿ            Increase your energy levels

Ÿ            Prevent and/or manage depression and anxiety

Ÿ            Provide stress relief

Is your weight under control? Check out a previous post to check how you measure up.


Are you overweight? How do you measure up?

July 21, 2009

How do you know if you’re overweight? Are the scales really telling the truth? Yeah you might be overweight but is that because of lean muscle mass or because of fat?

The best way to find out how much fat you’re carrying is to conduct these 5 tests below and see if you fall into the healthy ranges in each test.

  1. Weight
  2. Girth measurements
  3. Waist circumference
  4. Body fat %
  5. Body Mass Index (BMI)

Weight – Most people use weight as the only test to determine their health. Unfortunately our scales can only tell us how heavy we are. We really need to know how much of our weight comes from muscle, bones, fluid and fat. However, weight is a starting point and will give an indicator of where you are at.

Girth Measurements – All you need is a tape measure for this one. You can measure many sites of the body but the main ones are waist, hips, chest and thighs. You can also measure your calves and upper arms. Remember to pull the measuring tape firm and keep it parallel to the floor. If possible take the measurements directly on your skin rather than over clothes. You can check these measurements every 3-4 weeks.

Waist circumference – This measure is an indicator of abdominal fat. A waist circumference above 94 centimetres for men, and 80 centimetres for women, is associated with a greater risk of health problems. Higher than 102 centimetres for men, and 88 centimetres for women is associated with serious health risks! An ideal waist circumference would be below 94 for men and less than 80 for women. Another measurement used to assess your risk of obesity-related disease is your waist to hip ratio. You get this by dividing your waist circumference by your hip measurement. For example, if your waist was 90 centimetres, and your hip was 100 centimetres, your hip to waist ratio will be: 90  100 = 0.9. Ideal waist to hip ratio is less than 0.9 for men and less than 0.8 for women.

Body fat % – The measurement of body fat consists of total fat throughout the body. You can use skin fold callipers or bio-electrical impedance scales to obtain this measurement. Leave room for error when using these methods but it will give you a fairly decent measure of where you are at in terms of body fat %. The distribution of body fat also needs to be looked at: fat stored around the abdomen is dangerous fat. It’s associated with a greater risk of disease, in particular heart disease; whereas fat stored around the hips and thighs is far less harmful.





< 12%

< 17%


12 – 20.9 %

17 – 27.9 %


21 – 25.9 %

28 – 32.9 %


> 26 %

> 33 %

Body Mass Index – BMI is used as a general indicator of obesity. It’s used to define overweight, obese and underweight levels. To work out BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height squared. For example you weigh 100 kilograms and are 185 centimetres tall, the equation would be: 100 (1.85 x 1.85) = 29.2 (Overweight).





< 18.5


18.5 – 24.9


25 – 29.9


30 – 34.9


35 – 39.9



> 40.0


Remember BMI does not take into account muscle mass so ideally take all 5 of these measurements and see if they all point in one direction or not. If you’re not at where you want to be it’s time to start doing something about it. If you’re still not sure about your results or have any other questions, feel free to leave any questions or comments.