OK, so maybe you shouldn’t hang up your running shoes for good, but if your goal is to burn stomach fat and gain that sexy six-pack, your routine shouldn’t ignore the weight room. While burning calories may be key to dropping pounds, when aiming to burn fat, lifting proves to be the missing piece of the puzzle.
According to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, when men participated in lifting for a specific amount of time, rather than aerobics for the same amount of time, they had less of an increase in abdominal fat than those who ran for the same amount of time.
Despite potential weight gain from lifting, there was still a decrease in overall fat. The key then might be to have a balance of weight lifting and aerobic exercises, because while cardio burns fat and muscle, strength training will target calories from mostly fat.
This study also varied from previous research on the subject, because it focused on long-term effects and tested a large sample of various healthy men who ranged in BMI.
“To maintain a healthy weight and waistline, it is critical to incorporate weight training with aerobic exercise,” said Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and senior author of the study.
A great way to incorporate weight training with cardio, and in turn get the best of both worlds, is creating interval workouts, or trying HIIT workouts to build muscle and burn calories.
According to Bodybuilding.com, “Interval cardio is 4-6 challenges that are 60-90 second burt of exercise with rest periods in between.” There are many different types of interval training, and plenty of ways to add in running with lifting or body weight exercises to maximize results.
Other benefits of interval training include the efficiency of the workouts, and the ability to build muscle and add strength to your everyday lifting routines, while also burning fat and increasing stamina.
One thing to remember is to not confuse interval training with circuit training. According to Everyday Health, “Circuit training is moving from station to station to complete a set of exercises. Circuit training can be all aerobic exercise, all strength training, or alternating between cardio efforts and strength training.”
“Many people mistakenly call this interval training when, in fact, it is a circuit,” Leigh Crews, a personal trainer, said in the Everyday Health article. Interval training, on the other hand, encourages taking short rests between intense repetitions.
So the next time you hit the gym, or think about going for a long monotonous run, consider what your goals are, and if they include burning fat while simultaneously building muscle, you may want to consider putting together an interval routine.
According to Men’s Health, the interval training formula keeps your body burning calories long after your workout has stopped. “Interval training mimics sports -start-and-stop motions with periods of sprinting or close-to-sprinting speeds followed by light jogging or rest,” per Men’s Health.
The great thing about interval training is that you can do it at your own speed and challenge yourself. So while hanging up your running shoes may not be 100% necessary, you still might consider changing your routine if you want to burn more fat.
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