Look, everybody knows that cardiovascular and aerobic exercise are always important - both for overall health as well as weight loss/muscle development.

Traditional aerobic exercise (static exercise like running on a treadmill, biking, or using the elliptical machine) is obviously great for health purposes - it strengthens your inner organs so that they function better.

That's really the primary point of exercise, healthy insides for an energetic, balanced, long, and overall healthy life.

But the very simple truth is that steady-state cardio workouts that maintain one level of intensity is not the optimal way to burn fat.

High Intensity Interval Training is proven to optimize your body's ability to burn fat both during your workouts, and throughout your days.

High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training is about doing an efficient workout that consists of short bouts of intensity, mixed with alternating rest periods.

Here's a simple example:

Sprinting on a treamdmill as fast as you can for 30 seconds, following with 30 second to 1 minute of walking, then repeating the 30 second sprint, and continuing this flow for a period of time like 15-20 minutes.

HIIT cardio doesn't have to consist of running - it can be any workout that alternates between spurts of extreme intensity with rest periods in between.

It's hard as hell. It's intense as hell, but it's been proven to burn fat at much higher rates than ordinary steady state cardio.

The Benefits of HIIT Cardio:

It’s the easiest way to lose belly fat while maintaining muscle mass

Burn 3 times more calories than traditional cardiovascular workouts

The ‘After-Burn’ effect causes your body to burn more calories for hours after your workout

Chisels out your waist line

Lowers fasting insulin and increases insulin sensitivity

Boosts metabolism

Improves HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol)

Reduces blood pressure

Improves blood levels of health-protecting antioxidants

How HIIT Cardio Burns The Most Fat: The After-Burn Effect

The main benefit of HIIT cardio over traditional cardio routines is “the after-burn effect” (Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption):

After any ordinary, steady-state cardio routine, your body takes about two hours to restore itself to pre-exercise levels, thus using more energy and burning excess calories for a few hours after your workout.

Because of the vigorous nature of HIIT workouts, the post workout recovery demand on your body is greater and lasts longer.

So, you naturally burn 15% more calories AFTER your workout than you would with an ordinary cardio routine.

A 25-minute HIIT cardio routine can equate to 75-minutes of steady-paced cardio in terms of calories burned throughout a workout. And, it targets FAT rather than merely burning calories.

In this way, you get the most bang for your buck during every workout, your cardio workouts are short, and you get the benefit of the after-burn effect, keeping the fat burning going long after your workout is complete.

Fat Loss vs. Weight Loss

We all have this goal of getting to an ideal weight we think will make us happy with our physique.

But the number on the scale should be the least of your worries. The goal is always to look as fit as possible, be as healthy as possible, and most importantly, to be genuinely happy with your body just as it is.

That requires the burning of FAT, and fat alone.

Fat burning is not the same as losing weight, and it's the big benefit of HIIT cardio workouts that's led to it becoming such a popular part of many people's workout routines.

Most people don’t even scratch the surface when it comes to understanding what it means to “lose weight.”

Weight loss can come in a few different ways.

The loss of weight that shows up on a scale can either be the result of fat loss, muscle loss, or water loss.

The goal is to selectively manipulate the body to use fat as it's energy source through diet and the right type of exercise.

It’s simple.

Your body needs a certain amount of energy to function.

A calorie is a unit of energy – it is the energy value of food.

When you workout, your body uses more calories than are coming in, forcing it to turn to other places to supply and fulfill the energy requirements it isn’t getting from the food you’re eating.

When you're in a caloric deficit, your body can either turn to fat (you can think of it as stored energy) or muscle for the extra energy it's not getting from your food.

Our goal in achieving fat loss is to cause the body to undergo this process of finding alternate energy supplies, while doing all that we can to force the use of fat as the primary energy source rather than muscle.

Getting stronger and fitter is really a two-step process:

You need to do the strength training to build lean muscle mass,

and

You need to do the right forms of cardiovascular exercise to burn body fat.

This dynamic duo will deliver the strong, badass-body you want faster than any other approach (assuming you also stick with a healthy, protein-rich eating plan).

The good news is that the cardio part of the equation doesn’t have to take over your life.

Who wouldn’t want to save time and crush their fitness goals all at once?

By alternating short bouts of high-intensity exercise with recovery intervals, HIIT gives you a huge bang for your buck, and it can be a fun change of pace from what you’re currently accustomed to.

Check this article out for some great HIIT cardio workouts you can do at home:

Quick, Equipment-less Home Workout Routines. (CLICK HERE!)