For maximum fat burn, HIIT is the way to go. Or is it? Third Space personal trainer Matt Carey sheds some light on this age-old debate.

Everyone seems obsessed with HIIT as the ultimate exercise for fat loss. Should I ditch cardio training?

Most of my clients are frustrated with lack of results through long duration cardio, like running. However I would still include a bit of low intensity exercise in your gym routine even if it’s not the most effective way to shed the pounds.

Surely running is the ultimate fat burner?

Don’t get me wrong, long duration cardio exercise such as running or cycling, where you are working at around 60% intensity for about an hour, does burn fat. But only during the time that you are exercising. Plus it can be boring and time consuming. For maximum fat loss you will need three sessions of at least 45 minutes each per week and many Londoners simply don’t have that kind of time to dedicate to exercise.

Why is HIIT more effective? 

Short bursts of high intensity exercises, or HIIT, burns more fat per session and increases your cardiovascular fitness more than cardio does. Plus it takes less time – 30 minutes is plenty – and it is more fun. Most importantly, it places more recovery demands on your body which means you continue to burn fat for hours afterwards.

Should I do nothing but strength training and HIIT from now on?

No. It’s best to mix it up. Not only will this keep you interested and motivated, it will also give your body a chance to rest and replenish itself. HIIT can take its toll on the body, whereas you can recover pretty quickly from a low intensity cardio session. Recovery is very important when it comes to training. Otherwise you will just become exhausted and unable to progress. Moderation is key.

Matt’s HIIT Fat Burning Routine:

Four circuits of three exercises. Each circuit should last five minutes.

Circuit 1: 
15 X squats
15 X burpees
15 X crunches
Rest for 30 seconds

Circuit 2: (Using the barbell) 
15 X shoulder press
15 X bent over row
15 X lunges
Rest for 30 seconds

Circuit 3: 
Plank for 1 minute
Side plank with 15 hip raises on each side
15 X Leg raises
Rest for 30 seconds

Circuit 4: (On the swiss ball, using a dumbbell)
15 X shoulder press
15 X lateral raises
25 X crunches, rolling forward on the swiss ball (no need for dumbbell)