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Fat Loss, Cardio

Are Sprints a Good Form of Cardio for Fat Loss?

By Joe Talarico on Oct 27, 2020 1:00:00 PM
4 Minutes Reading Time


In short, yes, sprints are a good form of cardio for fat loss. Having said that, they shouldn’t be the ONLY thing you are doing. There are several factors to keep in mind.

  • If done too frequently too often, it can keep cortisol chronically elevated leading to problems down the road
  • Depending on the exercise, can be hard on your joints
  • Increased risk for injury
  • More intensity isn’t always better. It could negatively impact your gym performance 

I’ll admit, I have fallen victim to this. I have the type of personality that absolutely LOVES volume. The more I can cram into less time the better (says my mind). I have had weeks where all my cardio is some sort of CrossFit or HIIT training. I loved it. Sweaty, stinky, you name it. But after a while, I was getting pretty fried. I needed to take a break lowering the frequency to let my body catch up and properly recover. 

On the plus side, sprints have all sorts of advantages.

  • Amazing if you are tight on time
  • Burns as many calories in the 15-30 minutes as a 30-60 minute steady state session
  • Has the EPOC effect - the 3-4 hours after you train, your body is still burning calories trying to catch up to the high intensity demands you placed on it
  • Great for individuals who like to get after it

My mind is like a little doggy with too many toys. I need to constantly be distracted or I am bored out of my mind. Which is why I HATE low intensity steady state, and even NEAT. Yeah, that’s pretty sad. I just admitted to hating extra movement throughout my day. It just sounds exhausting to me. I want it all done, in one session, let me go about my day. If you’re like that too I get it.

The truth is though, aside from the above mentioned, we want to be doing 3 types of cardio. LISS, HIIT, and increasing our NEAT. If you have read my previous articles on cardio, I’ve gone in more depth as to what those all entail in detail. Steady state work is less taxing on the body and maximizing fat burn so you can tolerate much more of it while preserving muscle (save the gains bro). Increasing your NEAT makes a fat loss phase for most seem way more effortless, because you're essentially adding mini bouts of cardio throughout the day. It feels less like extra work on top of your busy day, and if you can successfully incorporate it, the habits will probably stick with you. And let’s be real, if you can seamlessly add MORE movement throughout your day, that’s a great habit to pick up.  

For now, if you want a balanced approach, here is a sample 12 week cardio program you can implement, that utilizes predominantly LISS and HIIT. To incorporate NEAT, just put it in place of where it says LISS. Also, feel free to divide that time up into extra walks with the dog, or just around the block in 10 minute bouts, rather than one cardio session. I even recommend my SUPER busy clients to just add it throughout their work day through “walking meetings” or on their breaks.  

Weeks 1-3 - Cardio 3 days a week at 30-35 minutes LISS

Week 4 - Maintenance week - Cardio once a week at 30-35 minutes LISS

Weeks 5-7 - Cardio 3 times a week at 30-35 minutes LISS each and 2 times a week at 15 min HIIT intervals

Week 8 - Maintenance week - Cardio twice a week at 30-35 minutes LISS or 15 min HIIT

Weeks 9-11 - Cardio 3 times a week at 40 minutes LISS each and 2 times a week at 20 min HIIT intervals

Week 12 - Maintenance week - Cardio twice a week at 40 minutes LISS or 20 min HIIT

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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