Interval sprints are great for accelerating fat loss - just make you're ready to give it your all

June 15, 2018

One of the questions that I’m often asked is ‘Which type of cardio is best for fat loss?’ and my answer is anything but a simple one.  It requires a greater understanding of how and why things respond the way they do to certain stimuli and why they don’t to others..

I do not believe there is one single type of cardio that is the most effective at fat loss, but rather establishing a habit around performing a variety of different types of cardio. Just like you don’t go into the gym and only perform one exercise every day – the bench press, for example. That would be a terribly inefficient way to workout and condition the whole body, not to mention soon get very boring. For the same reason, I don’t like going into the gym and only performing cardio on one piece of equipment for the same time, every day.

cardio sprint training fat loss rob riches

Above Everything Else

If I were to do the same routine every workout, my body would soon adapt to this ‘caloric expenditure’ and adjust it’s metabolic rate so that my body would get used to functioning the same on fewer calories. (What I mean by this is that if I were to just only perform 40 minutes on a bike every morning, and burn around 250-300 calories in the time, my body would quickly see what’s going on and adapt to be able to perform this same hum-drum piece of cardio every day by using up fewer calories and downgrading my metabolism). This may sound like it’s a good thing, but it really isn’t.


Keeping the Metabolism Fired Up

When the metabolism slows down like this, it actually makes it very difficult to use up stored body fat as fuel, and instead, favoring to waste muscle for it’s necessary nutrients that it needs. I’ve said it before that to over-diet and lower calories too low, is akin to building a house but running out of building materials so you start to take what you need from the front of the house to complete building the back of the house. It’s self-destructive.

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HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

There are a few different names that basically describe this style of cardio, but I’ve always referred to it as ‘HIIT’. It just sounds cool! What it basically entails is performing all out effort for a short spurt (typically around 20-30 seconds), followed by a recovery phase of a much lower intensity, really to allow you to catch your breath and slow your heart rate a little, before repeating the same cycle, over and over again for anywhere up to 20 minutes.


Sprints on a Rower

The example I like to give for this is on the rowing machine. After strapping in my feet and setting the intensity to level 10 (the highest), which is where it stays for the entire time, I warm up for 3 minutes at a relatively moderate speed and enough to get my heart rate up (about the same speed and force as if I would be performing LISS Cardio on it for 40 minutes). As soon as the 3rd minute is complete, I row as hard and as fast as I can for 30 seconds. During this time I try and keep my 500m pace below 1:30m (the time it would take to row 500 meters, and also the largest, most central number shown on the display screen). After 30 seconds is up, I return back to a pace just a little slower than my warm up and focus on controlling my breathing and trying to slow my heart rate.

cardio sprints for fat loss with rob riches

Warm Up

3-5 minutes of jogging
Including light stretching & mobility drills

Interval Sprints

30-second all out sprint
walk back to the start (controlling your breathing)
(Repeat 6-10 times)
(recovery time should be limited to 30-60 seconds, although take longer if you really need the extra time before feeling ready to sprint again)

Cool Down

2-3 minutes of light jogging
Perform several light stretches to the quads, hamstrings, and calves