Exercise for Ultimate Fat Loss

Long, slow aerobic activities are not the most efficient to lose fat and build lean muscle. Here’s why:

  1. When some people start a cardio program, they end up eating more and may even gain weight (International Journal of Obesity, Vol. 32, 2008)
  2. Three hundred hours of cardio per year helped men lose only 6 pounds (and women lost only 4 pounds). That’s about 50 hours or cardio per pound lost (obesity, Vol. 15, 2007)
  3. Research has shown that interval training works better than slow cardio for fat loss- even when diet is not changed (International Journal of Obesity, April 2008)

Short-duration high intensity exercise improves body composition and is the most effective for fat loss.

How Does High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)work?

HIIT enhances fat burning through a phenomenon known as EPOC (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption). EPOC leads to post exercise fat burning.

During the activity, glucose is used, but during the recovery (24-72 hours after the activity- even while you sleep), your body is burning fat.

In addition, HIIT increases a fat burning enzyme called 3-hydroxyacyl coenzyme dehydrogenase (HADH).

How do you do it?

Firstly, you should have a baseline level of conditioning, because HIIT, while brief, is intense. If you have not been exercising, take a month to build your cardio base doing activities such as walking or using aerobic machines. This would also be a good time to start a resistance training program.

After about a month, you should be ready to start. Here is a sample routine:

  1. Warm up for 5-10 minutes (low intensity)
  2. Sprint/Jump rope/Stair climb/Cardio machine for 30 seconds at an intensity of 8 (intensity based on Rate of Perceived Exertion- RPE, where 10 is 100% effort)
  3. Active rest for 60-90 sec at a RPE of 3
  4. Perform 8-10 intervals
  5. Warm down 5-10 minutes

This routine can be done three times per week but not on consecutive days.

For more information on using exercise and diet to optimize your body composition and health, Dr. Lecovin can be reached at his clinic in Bellevue, WA at (425) 646-4747 or through his website at:


About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin