A lot of us equate fat burning to long, slow bouts of tedious cardio. While it is true that easy biking or a leisurely treadmill jog is fueled primarily by our bodies’ fat stores, it isn’t the ideal way to shed a stubborn gut (the visceral, organ-hugging fat that’s linked to diabetes and other health problems).
The better option: Short-burst cardio intervals. These lung-burning bouts will fry fat in the moment, and elevate your metabolic rate for hours after the workout, so you continue torching calories. How short depends on a lot of factors. According to a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, people burn slightly more calories performing high-intensity intervals that last 60 seconds versus maximum-effort 30-second sprints. But either method will churn through calories faster than long cardio, done at a lower intensity.
Better still is pairing a quick bout of conditioning with a total-body lift. You’ll rev your metabolism for several hours after the workout, and you’ll get stronger too.
Last, and maybe most important, no amount of cardio will make a difference without a proper nutrition plan. Combine the focused, quick workouts below with a clean diet of vegetables, fruits, healthy protein, and unprocessed foods to get the best fat-burning results.
10-Minute Fat Torchers
The three workouts here pair a hip hinge, push, or pull strength-training move (think squat, push-up, or chin-up) with an Airdyne bike or Versaclimber, which are classic cardio machines. These total-body tools are ideal for intervals because the Versaclimber simulates uphill sprints, while the Airdyne’s resistance matches your efforts. And both machines give a pretty accurate estimate of how many calories you burn, so you can track your progress from one session to the next. (Don’t have an Airdyne or a Versaclimber? Sub in a rowing machine, or just sprint.)
For the strength exercises, choose a weight that allows you to complete textbook reps. Lift quickly and lower under control. Always err on the side of caution and reduce the weight if your technique turns sketchy. Follow the strength move with an immediate 20- to 30-second all-out conditioning effort. That’s one set. Do four total sets, resting for 60 seconds in between.
Workout #1: Hip Hinge + Conditioning
Five reps Barbell Sumo-Stance Deadlift + 20-second Airdyne bike sprint
Workout #2: Hip Hinge + Pull + Conditioning
Eight reps Barbell Box Squat + 8 Pull-ups + 30-second Versaclimber Sprint
Workout #3: Hip Hinge + Conditioning
10 reps Barbell Romanian Deadlift + 20-second Airdyne Sprint