I often get asked, "What's the best way to burn fat and lose my belly?" People want to know if aerobics is better than strength training, or if traditional cardio exercise is better than intervals.
Well, to say I've done them all would be an understatement.
With over 15 years experience helping others, training myself, training for sports, spending countless hours in the gym, AND actually conducting laboratory research studies on different exercise methods, I'm pretty confident in knowing what works and what does not.
But first of all, I want to frame my responses. I'm going to talk about what works for people that have a limited amount of time to exercise, mostly because I expect your readers don't have 90 minutes per day to devote to a workout, unlike the typical audience of a fitness magazine.
That's why there is a huge disconnect between some of the information found in magazines and the ability of the reader to apply it to their lives.
We just don't have 6-8 hours per week for exercise, nor do we need it. If you're a triathlete, you might need that, but not someone that just wants to lose fat and gain muscle.
Having said all that, the bottom line for getting a better body is...
Use bodyweight exercises to warm-up, strength training supersets to build muscle, and then finish your workout with interval training to burn fat in a short amount of time. I've structured my system so that you are in and out of the gym in 45 minutes, three times per week.
You'll do 5 minutes of bodyweight exercises to warm-up. This is a much more efficient approach than spending 5 minutes walking on a treadmill, which really doesn't prepare you for anything except more walking on a treadmill.
Then we move into the strength training supersets, where we use two exercises performed back to back with minimum rest between each. This cuts our workout time, while still giving us maximum results. We only need 20 minutes for this, and we'll use basic exercises, and sometimes even more bodyweight exercises, depending on the client's goal for muscle building.
And finally, we'll do 18 minutes of interval training. A warm-up, followed by six short intervals at the appropriate fitness level for the client, interspersed with short periods of low-intensity recovery. Finish with a cool-down. And that's the workout. Again, about 45 minutes total.
Compare that to what most people do, which is run, jog, cycle or use the cardio machines for 45 minutes straight. Sure, that will burn calories, but it doesn't build a better body.
In fact, there are a few "dark sides" to long slow cardio, including less-than-optimal results, the potential for overuse injuries, and it is an inefficient form of exercise. If you only have 30-45 minutes for your workout and you spend it all on a cardio machine, when are you going to train the rest of your muscles and sculpt a better body?
So the best way to burn belly fat is with a combination of strength training and interval training. It's fast, it works, and it's fun!
About the Author:
Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines.