The other day, a member came in to Koko and said his wife told him he needed to do more than 15 minutes of cardio to burn fat. Although we typically avoid meddling in marital disputes of any kind, this couple brings up a good question that many in the industry have debated: How long must you exercise to burn fat.
Fear not, you can burn fat in 15 minutes and get a great cardio workout, IF that cardio workout is done the right way.
Here are the basics on fat burning. Every minute of every day, your body is burning calories. A set percentage of those calories comes from fat. So, the more calories you burn, the more fat you burn. This is a physiological fact. There is actually no magic amount of exercise that you have to complete in order for your body to switch into “fat burning mode.” (You’re burning it right now!)
Somehow, though, in the last few decades, long cardio sessions carried out at a steady rate (60% of max heart rate, typically) took hold in the fitness industry as the way to burn fat. Thankfully, for those of us who don’t have hours to hamster-wheel on the treadmill, scientific evidence doesn’t support this approach. (Phew!) Though it’s true your body does burn a higher percentage of fat at this heart rate level, (which is now ubiquitously referred to as “the fat burning zone,”) total fat calories burned is still a simple function of total calories burned and there is a more efficient way to get it done in your cardio workout. Interval training. That’s what Koko Cardio is all about.
Some of the early science that first illuminated the power of interval training came out of Laval University in Quebec. They compared a group of exercisers who rode stationary bikes at a steady rate with a second group who rode stationary bikes alternating 60 to 90 second periods of high intensity sprints with periods of recovery. The first group worked out longer each day, more days each week and for more weeks overall than the second group. Although the first group burned more calories during their workouts, it was the second group who lost more body fat! Interval training is a more intense workout for your body than steady state training, and your body expends more energy (calories!) to rebuild and restore long after you have left the gym. So, the second group spent less time exercising and burned fewer calories during each workout, but burned more calories overall because their bodies required more energy throughout the day as a result of interval training!
So, by upping the intensity of your workout through interval training it is possible to burn more calories and more fat, while spending less time actively exercising. This is how Koko Cardio delivers an effective, calorie-burning workout in 15 minutes. Koko Cardio programs push you through 60 to 90 second intervals of increased speed and incline to get your heart pumping, followed by similar recovery periods where the incline and speed are reduced. In the short term, a 15 minute Koko Cardio workout will burn as many calories as an average exerciser’s 30 minute trip on a treadmill or elliptical trainer because of the intensity level. But, the real magic happens after the Koko Cardio interval training workout, when your body continues to burn calories (and fat!) long after you have left the club. And, in the long, long term? Koko Cardio will look even more effective 10 years down the road, when you realize you have managed to consistently fit this awesome 15 minute workout into your life for the long haul.
Interested in reading more about fat burning? Fitness for Dummies is “Busting the Great Myths of Fat Burning.” Good stuff.