People often ask “What is the best exercise for weight loss?”, or “What is the most efficient way for burning fat?” There is lots of information about this out there on the internet, and I encourage you to take a good look. You will find that the kind of activity actually does not matter all that much. What matter is how you exercise. This means that you can do whichever exercise you like best, or are most comfortable with, whether that’s swimming, cycling, running, aerobics, rowing, or even dancing. The most efficient fat-burning activities are those that involve high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This means you alternate between intervals of high intensity activity and lower-intensity recovery periods. Following a warm up period, you would, for example, sprint hard for 40 seconds, followed by lighter jogging for about 20 seconds. You would then alternate between these two cycles for 15 – 30 minutes. The high intensity period should be near the maximum capacity you can endure. Usually this is measured by heart rate, so if you are member of a gym, you may be able to use cardio-vascular equipment with heart rate monitors to guide you. The shorter recovery period should be much lighter, but importantly you do not stop the exercise altogether. Cycling between high and low intensity intervals in a way like this gives optimum fat burning results.
So, how to relate that back to your own requirements? Here is what I did: I decided recently to join a gym again because now that I have lost 15 kgs, my weight is well within the normal range for my height (195cm, 89 kgs). However, there is still fat around my tummy and my chest (moobs), but I think the way to get rid of that now is by toning up rather than losing a lot more weight. I talked to a coach in the gym and he gave me a HIIT regime consisting of short periods of aerobic exercises like press-ups, burpees, rope-pulls etc, combined with weight exercises targeting the problem areas. It was good to see that the professional fitness instructor was on the same wave length as I had been with respect to how best to burn fat!
I also started swimming again. My usual routine had been to do 250m breast stroke as a warm-up, followed by 500m front crawl and 250m breast stroke as a cool down. It used to be the case that the front crawl really puffed me out and I needed a breather after each 50 or 100 m. But now I can just plough through it in one go. Likewise, I have stopped using the lift at work and walk up 9 flights of stairs every morning to my office (and depending on activities several times during the work day). Sure, that makes my heart beat a little faster, but by the time I walked down the corridor to my office, it’s back to normal again. I guess not lugging an excess 15kg around does make a difference!