Cardio is a must for all, but if you want to hold onto your muscle mass and burn fat at the same time, do it with high intensity for the best effect.
Multiple research studies show that long steady-paced treadmill runs do nothing to shift fat reserves, and they can actually kill your muscle gains.
Think about it for a minute...
The more you do something, the more your body gets comfortable at doing it. Your body will find the least stressful and lowest impact way of dealing with it.
That is why you have to shock your body and cycle the intensity when you want to pack on muscle gains.
By doing long mid-tempo jogs on the treadmill, your body produces a large amount of the stress hormone: cortisol.
This puts you in an anti-muscle building catabolic state and it can also be bad for your heart (I explained this when I said that short training sessions are better).
The stress hormone cortisol also causes fat stores to build up around the mid-section.
So if you are working the treadmill on your cardio days in a bid to get rid of fat deposits you can actually be doing the exact opposite.
Unless you shock your body with HIIT.
Yes again, it’s high intensity training to the rescue.
HIIT On The Treadmill
Doing HIIT on the treadmill has the opposite positive effect.
If you do it like I'll tell you below, it can help you maintain and actually build muscle mass, and trim off fat pockets.
If you think not, then have a look at the physique of 100 m sprinters.
Ripped sinewy muscles, for maximum power. You need a powerful body for explosive starts and short distance running.
A fast metabolic rate comes along with the territory of having an increased muscular body.
This nice benefit actually demands that your body burns extra calories to feed and maintain the muscle mass. (Read why building muscle is the best way to burn fat).
Plus it actually does this when you are out of the gym and in a resting state. So basically you can strip off fat out of the gym, if you get the training right inside the gym.
This is a beginner’s guide HIIT. For it you need a responsive machine. Something along the lines of a Horizon T101-04 treadmill.
- Start your warm-up at a walking pace then build up to a light jog for 3-4 minutes.
- Once you feel warmed up, get your finger on the speed button. Pump it up real quick until you are into a sprint.
- Then blast out a sprint at full tilt for 30 seconds. Don’t push it too hard as you don’t want your heart rate to go into the danger zone for your age. You shouldn’t go over no more than 80-85% of it’s max capacity. (For safety use heart rate straps to get an accurate bpm reading).
- After the sprint take the speed down to a jogging pace and do this for another 2-3 minutes until you get your breathing back to a regular rhythm.
- Then go back into a sprint for another 30 secs. Lower the treadmill speed down again and rinse and repeat this cycle until you have completed 3 sprints.
- Cool down for 3-5 minutes with a light jog, and gradually lower the speed down and finish at a walking pace for 1-2 minutes.
- Over a few weeks you can work up to doing more sprints, and lowering the recovery time between sprints. You’ll know if you are pushing it too fast if you can’t recover your breath between sprints. You can also increase the time you perform interval training to up to 20 minutes. But remember with treadmill training less is more.