Post-Winter Planning

Go with the flow of research on high-intensity intervals to sprint your way lean.

We both know that you’re searching this website because you’re looking for ways to shed the dietary sin of the holidays. So let’s just cut to the chase and tell you how to do it.

First of all, it’s worth saying that you will have to commit to regular weight training (which positively impacts metabolism) and a diet that is protein heavy (at least 1 gram per pound of bodyweight per day). But that’s not enough. To really alleviate the swelling at your belt line, you’re going to need to become a devout practitioner of high-intensity interval training.

HIIT training has been shown in multiple studies to burn more fat while preserving more muscle than traditional steady-state cardio. Why? Without getting all sciencey on the mechanisms of fat loss, forcing your body to work harder — even if it’s in smaller segments — elicits greater total adaption. Do you know your time in the mile? Well, imagine running that mile in 16 all-out sprints and stringing those segments together for your time. Congratulations on your world record.

Muscles only know stress and fatigue — and HIIT provides both in spades. Plus, the cumulative stress of sprinting the mile in segments is recognized by the body as being more difficult than a more leisurely eight- or 10-minute run.

One study found that subjects who did four to six 30-second sprints separated by four minutes of rest three times per week burned double the fat of a group that jogged for 30 to 60 minutes at a set pace. As a bonus, both groups gained muscle. Oh, and if you’re an endurance purist, improvements to VO2 markers and 2,000-meter time trials were similar in both groups.

Use this workout to start shedding your winter coat, one sprint at a time.