Summer’s almost here, which means no more hiding behind baggy sweaters, mom jeans, and loose-fitting pants. Warm weather means flaunting more skin at the beach, BBQs, and dinners on the town.
If you’re like me though, you don’t have hours every day to get lean and toned at the gym. Well, I have good news: burst training can give you an effective, efficient workout in just minutes a day. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather use that “gained” time with my kids or maybe just walking my dog in the sunshine rather than being cooped up on an elliptical machine.
I’ve compiled a list of why burst training is the absolute best exercise on the planet. Here are my top 5 reasons. If you’re already sold, skip down to the bottom to hear about a special offer I have for you.
Burst training helps your body adapt to stress. While all exercise raises cortisol, this stress hormone can work for or against you depending on what you’re doing. “Cortisol is the Jekyll-and-Hyde hormone because it can be your best friend or worst enemy when it comes to fat loss,” says Dr. Jade Teta, co-author of The Metabolic Effect Diet. “Long-duration cardiovascular exercise increases cortisol, but never breaches the intensity threshold necessary to get trigger [fat-burning hormones] like human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone.” (More on HGH in a minute.) Chronically elevated cortisol can lead to muscle breakdown and fat storing.
On the other hand, burst training raises those anabolic (building) hormones like testosterone and HGH, which increases fat burning. Burst training also teaches your body to better handle stress and recover more effectively.
Burst training promotes post-workout fat burning. Sure, you’re burning fat while you ride that treadmill, but the lower intensity doesn’t require any metabolic post-exercise repair. Because fat burning and metabolism are not enhanced post-workout, you get limited overall metabolic benefits. Put another way: the more intense your exercise, the bigger metabolic cost you create when you’re done. Burst training is your ticket for fat loss and fast metabolism.
Bust training raises human growth hormone. Repeated, intense bursts raise lactic acid, which spikes human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is your “fountain of youth” hormone. It helps you burn more fat, boosts your immune system, increases testosterone levels, and decreases inflammation. (Are you sold yet?) Want a one-two punch to increase GH? Get an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep every night and then do burst training three or four times a week.
Burst training reduces your risk for chronic diseases. Fat isn’t just an aesthetic issue: it can also contribute to numerous problems like diabetes. HIIT can help reduce your risk for these and other diseases.
One study in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Disease concluded that, compared with endurance training, HIIT was an effective way to control and prevent hypertension.
According to my friend Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution, 24 million people have diabetes, and half of them don’t even know it. Burst training can provide an effective exercise to ameliorate diabetes. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology, for instance, showed that for people with type 2 diabetes, burst training could rapidly improve glucose control and improve metabolic health.
Dr. Hyman also estimates 60 million people have pre-diabetes, or insulin resistance that paves the path for full-blown diabetes. A study in the journal BMC Endocrine Disorders showed that exercise could help prevent diabetes in otherwise-sedentary younger males. “The efficacy of a high intensity exercise protocol, involving only [a small amount] of work each week, to substantially improve insulin action in young sedentary subjects is remarkable,” researchers noted.
Burst training saves you time. Like I mentioned before, burst training blows the time excuse out of the water. After all, you’re looking at 30 minutes max, which even the busiest person can schedule (yes, schedule) into their insanely hectic day.
You don’t need expensive equipment, fancy workout clothes, or a gym membership. Some people favor compact, portable machines like the Xiser, but you can get equally effective burst-training results in your mall stairs or park hill. The worst you can say is that people might look at you funny, but that’s a small price to pay to burn fat and get in peak condition.
I’ve combined burst training with weight resistance in my free 4 x 4 Workout. How cool is that. You can get a beach body in just 15 minutes, three times a week. I’m not going to sugarcoat it though: this is work. You’re going to sweat. You’re going to work harder than you ever did in those spin classes. And you’re also going to get results, which is why you exercise to begin with.
I know some of you have been doing my 4 x 4 Workouts for months or even years. I want to hear from you: have you cranked up the intensity, for instance, or found a workout partner to do them with?
For all you newbies: try a 4 x 4 Workout and let me know your thoughts. Hey, it’s free, and summer’s almost here, so what do you have to lose except the body fat?
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Babraj JA, et al. Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males. BMC Endocrine Disorders 2009, 9:3.
Ciolac EG. High-intensity interval training and hypertension: maximizing the benefits of exercise? Am J Cardiovasc Dis. 2012;2(2):102-10. Epub 2012 May 15.
Little JP, et al. Low-volume high-intensity interval training reduces hyperglycemia and increases muscle mitochondrial capacity in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Appl Physiol. 2011 Dec;111(6):1554-60.
Talanian JL, et al. Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women. J Appl Physiol. 2007 Apr;102(4):1439-47.