What types of intervals have you found to be effective fat burners?

February 20, 2016

Q: I have read many times that interval training is one of the best ways to burn fat. Can you explain to me exactly what interval training is? Also, I would appreciate it if you could give a couple examples of interval training routines that can be done in the gym or possibly outside that you have found to be most effective. Any feedback will be appreciated.

A: Interval training means periodically increasing the intensity of your workout, and it can be an excellent way to take your cardiovascular workouts to the next level.

Here are several examples to get you started.

Elliptical intervals

Choose the manual program and find a level that’s difficult but can be done for a period of 15 to 30 minutes. Begin working out at a normal pace for 2 1/2 minutes, then increase the intensity to a more difficult level for 30 seconds. When the 30 seconds is up, decrease the intensity by bringing it back to the original pace. Repeat the process every 2 1/2 minutes until the session is over.

Treadmill intervals

I use three main treadmill interval routines depending on the client’s level.

For beginners I’d suggest starting with a walking incline interval. This means you’ll start walking on an incline at a pace that’s challenging for 2 1/2 minutes, then switch the machine to an incline that’s much more difficult for 30 seconds.

For intermediates I recommend walking/ jogging intervals. Start by walking for 2 1/2 minutes, then turn up the speed to a light jog for 30 seconds.

More experienced clients start with a stiff jog for 2 1/2 minutes and then increase the speed to a brisk run for 30 seconds. Repeat the process until all the sessions are finished.

Jump rope intervals

Jump rope intervals are a great way to add some variety to your routine. Most gyms supply ropes, but, if not, jump ropes are cheap and easy to cart around. Once you get your hands on one, start by jumping at a normal pace for 2 1/2 minutes and then go 15 percent faster for 30 seconds. Repeat the process as many times as needed to finish the session.


This one brings me back to my days of football when my coaches mercilessly lined us up and made us run back and forth till we felt like we were going to drop. What I didn’t realize then was in addition to getting us in shape for the fourth quarter, sprints are an excellent way to burn fat.

To perform sprints, pick a distance between 40 and 100 yards, line up and run as fast as you can until you reach the finish line.

Rest approximately 40 to 60 seconds and sprint back to the starting point. Repeat sprints for the desired amount of reps and rest assured you’ll get a great workout.

Jogging intervals

To add a little intensity to my running routines, I like to play a game called pole to pole. This basically means jogging at a normal pace until reaching a telephone pole and then sprinting until I reach the next pole. This game obviously works best on straightaways where poles are spread out evenly, but you can use any object as a reference point to make it work.

Stair/hill running

To perform this type of interval training, you will have to find a large hill or staircase. The idea is to run up the incline in controlled, explosive bursts take your time and walk or jog back down to the starting point and then run back to the top again. Living in Delaware doesn’t provide many opportunities for running up hills, so you may have to search for some type of man-made incline or settle for a large set of stairs.

Interval training is an excellent way to burn fat because it forces the body to work through a variety of heart rate zones, never allowing it to get used to the pace. It’s important to remember to start slow. Don’t start using interval training until you develop a strong foundation and basic cardio workouts become easier.

Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out for training tips, news and inspirational stories.

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