The Best Form of Cardio to Eliminate Fat and Maintain Muscle

By Ty Ferrell

As a frequent gym patron, I am many times shocked at the amount of time people (especially women) will spend on an aerobic machine. The sad part is many of them do not change much at all for the better.

After spending two hours on an elliptical for a month you expect to see something amazing happen, right? Hopefully you know that is absolutely wrong. The only thing amazing is just how "rundown" a person can look after that torture. Unlike aerobic loving patrons of the gym, I hate long duration aerobics. I hate it so much I have researched and experimented with other modes of training to see if fat loss can become less "mind-numbing" and more efficient. Also, it needs to ensure that precious metabolism-raising muscle will not be burned away in the process. After some serious research and trial and error, I have found that undulating interval training is the most superior way of taking off fat pounds, maintaining muscle and keeping the joints safe.

For the sake of this article remaining as simple as possible, I will not dwell on the long research and complex results, but rather provide you with a "cliff note" version. Let's first look at the major benefits and downsides of both long duration aerobics and undulating interval training.

Long Duration Aerobics:

1. Uses calories for energy at a low rate, but calories come from muscle, consumed food, and fat
2. Increases endurance, but does not do much for increasing strength nor speed
3. Increases the efficiency of the body's aerobic system, which means if you are running a marathon then this is great, but if you are simply trying to burn fat, not good at all.
4. Increases chances of joint connective tissue deterioration.
5. Is plain out boring.

Undulating Interval training:

1. Uses calories for energy at a high rate, and the calories come from fat stores and food consumed.

2. Increases endurance, reaction time, speed, maximal potential strength.

3. Keeps the aerobic system from becoming efficient, but increases efficiency of body to use fat and lactic acid as fuel. Maximal amount of fat will be oxidized (burned).

4. Promotes tendon adaptation along with muscle adaptation, allowing for the body and joints to become healthier and better.

5. Heart increases in strength and EPOC (excessive post exercise oxygen consumption) is set off (which means you will burn fat even after you leave the gym and go on about your life).

6. Studies have shown that people have better workout sessions and higher performance when the training is frequent and efficient.

I'm sure I have your attention now. Now let me briefly go over what undulating interval training is and how to use it. First off, undulating simply means the intensity (speed and difficulty) and volume (duration and amount of rounds) fluctuate constantly throughout the training. In lay mans terms, each interval will fluctuate, whether the fluctuating deals with speed, amount of rounds and sets, or duration. Second, undulating interval training should never last more than ten minutes. If it does you are not pushing yourself near hard enough. UIT (undulating interval training) needs to be done with high quality and with a strong push to go as fast and as safely as possible. Finally, before trying this, check with your doctor and make sure you are up to the challenge, health-wise.

Here is an example of UIT for a beginner. If you are more advance, then adjust the training to your abilities.

1. Jumping Jacks - at a speed that you can maintain for two minutes Do for one minute
2. Sprint Jog - jogging with full range of motion in legs (feet should nearly kick your butt when brought back)Do for one minute
3. Walk - nice pace with good form

Do for three minutes

Now repeat the UIT, but change the amount of time to look like this:

1. Jumping Jacks - Faster Pace Do for twenty seconds
2. Full Sprint
Do for forty-five seconds
3. Walking in good Form
Do for one minute

Last round would look something like this:

1. Jumping Jacks - at a speed that you can maintain for three minutes Do for ninety seconds
2. Full Sprint
Do for twenty seconds
3. Walk

Do for three minutes

That's it my friend. Be creative with the exercises you use for the intervals. Make sure they are exercises you are familiar enough with to really push yourself. Now is not the time to try something exotic.

Ty Ferrell is a NASM certified personal trainer, PN nutrition practitioner, and a constant student of the vast field of fitness. He is the founder of and can be reached there.

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