Today’s Ask Lee question comes from Veronica Williams of Huntington Beach California:
QUESTION: “I hear different ideas about whether one should do long distance cardio or high intensity cardio. Do you think high intensity cardio is a good way to lose fat and build muscle?”
Watch The Video To See Lee’s Answer
ANSWER: Veronica, that’s a good question. There are two ways to do cardio. You can choose long slow distance, or you can choose a higher intensity interval method. If you’ve got all the time in the world, and most people don’t, long slow distance is fine for burning body fat. But if you want the most results in the shortest amount of time, my advice to you is to use the higher intensity approach to cardio. This type of cardio is referred to as high intensity interval training or HIIT.
There are several studies supporting HIIT cardio and showing that it has a more profound effect on your metabolism and fat burning than longer distance cardio performed at a lower intensity. HIIT cardio consist of alternating high intensity, short bursts of exercise, with lower intensity resting periods of exercise. The way that this would look on an exercise cycle, for instance, would be one minute at a full sprint, followed by one minute at a lower intensity coasting speed.
To begin your HIIT workout, start with a low intensity five minute warm up. Once you are warmed up, you will then go into the first cycle of intervals.
Do this you will perform a one minute sprint, or short burst of maximum effort, on your bike or treadmill. Sure that the tension or load setting is high enough to make the sprint moderately difficult. The goal is to get you breathing really hard.
After the one minute burst, reduce your speed and the difficulty setting on your bike or treadmill, so that you can coast for one minute. Should notice your breathing rate slowing down.
After you have coasted for a minute, you do another one minute sprint. After your one minute at the difficult level, reduce the setting and speed again to the easier coasting level.
If at any point, you get gassed and just cannot go on, kick it down to the easy setting and coast until you catch your breath. Then, begin cycling short bursts with coasting once more. You should strive to complete about 10 of these sprint and coast cycles.
If at first you feel like you’re too out of shape to perform the high intensity interval method described here, just do your cardio at a slow steady pace for 30 minutes, for a few days, until you build up your wind. Then you can try intervals again. Can also start with shorter sprint intervals, say lasting 15 to 30 seconds, followed by one minute rest periods. And then once you feel up to it, you can increase the sprints to the one minute mark.
You will find that if you push yourself moderately, you will adapt, and reap the benefits of this cardio program. Veronica, I hope that this helps.
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I’m Lee Labrada, your lean body coach.
Yours for a Lean Body,
Your Lean Body Coach™
About the Author: One of the world’s most well-known and celebrated bodybuilding legends, Lee Labrada holds 22 professional bodybuilding titles, including the IFBB Mr. Universe. He is one of few pro bodybuilders in history to consistently place in the top four at the Mr. Olympia competition (the “Super Bowl” of bodybuilding) for seven consecutive years—a feat he shares with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He has appeared on the covers of more than 100 bodybuilding and fitness magazines and has been featured on CNBC, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and ESPN as a fitness and nutrition expert.
Lee was also inducted into the Bodybuilding Hall of Fame, is an Internationally known best selling fitness authos and holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. For more about Lee please visit his page here: Lee Labrada’s page.