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Sprint training pushes your limits.
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Belly fat will shrink with exercise and dietary interventions, and the type of exercise you choose affects how quickly and effectively that fat yields. Sprint training is superior to plodding along for a long distance at a steady pace when it comes to losing belly fat. This method of exercise burns calories, enhances your metabolism, increases the body's ability to oxidize fat and alters hormones that encourage fat storage.
What Is Sprint Training?
Sprint training, sometimes referred to as high-intensity intermittent training, involves bouts of fast running, or other all-out cardio exercise, with short periods of rest. Instead of just putting in the miles on your feet, bike or elliptical machine, you aim to raise your heart rate and push your limits for seconds or minutes at a time. The length of the sprint intervals vary according to your fitness level, but they generally last anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds with equal recoveries. An entire sprint-training session may last 20 to 60 minutes, depending on your abilities. Any type of cardio exercise can incorporate sprint training.
When it comes to fat loss, sprint training is superior to steady-state cardio, even when that cardio is done for long periods of time. A 2010 issue of "Metabolism" published a study showing that overweight and obese men who participated in six sessions of sprint training over the course of two weeks experienced improvements in fitness and developed a greater ability to burn fat at rest. In terms of belly fat, the men's waist measurement decreased significantly in the two weeks. Sprint training helps women slim down their midsections, too. In a 2008 issue of the "International Journal of Obesity," a study showed that 15 weeks of high-intensity intermittent exercise positively affected fat loss, especially in the legs and trunk.
Why It Works
Exactly why sprint training is superior to cardio done at a consistent, moderate pace -- in terms of fat loss -- is not clear to researchers. Stephen H. Boutcher surmises in a 2011 issue of "Obesity" that it has to do with an improved ability of the muscles to oxidize fat (both during and after exercise), suppressed appetite and changes in how the body processes insulin. According to Boutcher, sprint training is especially effective in decreasing belly fat in diabetic and metabolic syndrome patients.
Using sprint training every day isn't recommended as a method for belly fat reduction. Because of its demanding quality, you're best off incorporating 30- to 60-minute sprint-training workouts just two or three times per week. On another two or three training days, distance-oriented exercise may be appropriate as long as you keep your intensity moderate. This type of exercise helps you burn calories, which can still impact weight loss. Work up to longer durations of moderate, consistently-paced exercise slowly -- don't jump off the couch into a 10-mile jog. You'll also want to incorporate two or three total-body strength-training workouts into your weekly, belly-fat burning workout to maintain lean muscle mass, which keeps your metabolism humming.