“HIIT” It up! 5 Cardio Secrets That Reduce Fat Fast!

NOTE: This is Part 1 of a 2-Part Series.

We all know that cardio can help you reduce body fat. But what kind of cardio works the fastest? How can you avoid throwing away lean muscle with the fat? What supplements should you use to get maximum results? In this two-part series, we’ll reveal the answers to these questions and more.

Secret #1: “HIIT” it up!

What is HIIT?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) (pronounced “hit”) sounds technical, but it doesn’t have to be. If you add HIIT to your workout program, it can help you reduce body fat faster and hold on to more lean muscle than regular cardio.

Simply stated, HIIT involves 3 steps:

(1)  Briefly perform exercise at a high intensity.

(2)  Briefly exercise at a low intensity or rest.

(3)  Repeat several times.

The term “interval” is used because periods of high-intensity exercise are separated by intervals of low-intensity exercise or rest. The latter is sometimes called the “recovery” period.

Think of how little kids sometimes play. They dart across the grass at full speed. Then they slow down to a walk. Then they dart off again in another direction. And so on. They’re doing HIIT, and they don’t even realize it!

The rules of HIIT are pretty flexible. The high-intensity period may last anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds. The recovery period may last the same amount of time.


The opposite of HIIT is sometimes called “continuous moderate exercise” (CME), or “low intensity steady state” (LISS). If you walk for an hour at a steady pace on the treadmill, for instance, you are doing CME. Some doctors still prescribe CME for fat reduction. However, an increasing number are now telling their patients to “HIIT it up” instead. Why?

  • Clinical studies provide      compelling evidence that you can reduce body fat faster with HIIT than you      can with CME. This is true even when you burn more calories during CME. In      one study, subjects who performed CME for several weeks didn’t lose any      fat, whereas those who performed HIIT did. This occurred despite the fact      that those who performed CME burned 15,000 more calories than subjects in      the HIIT group.
  • Patient compliance may be higher      with HIIT, possibly because it isn’t as boring as CME.
  • The number-one excuse often made      for not exercising enough is “I don’t have time.” HIIT workouts      are much shorter than CME workouts. No more excuses!
  • HIIT is associated with improved      cardiovascular and metabolic function in people who are currently healthy      as well as “at risk” patients.
  • HIIT reduces both subcutaneous      (“under the skin”) and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat      that you can see on your body. Visceral fat is stored deep inside your      body, around organs. It has been linked to diseases such as diabetes.
  • Because your muscles have to work      harder during HIIT, it can do a better job of preserving lean muscle than      CME. Too much CME can cause lean muscle to shrink (atrophy).

“How can HIIT help me lose fat faster, even if I burn more calories during CME?”

Good question. Scientists are still trying to figure this out. Several factors may be involved. For instance, HIIT workouts may boost your metabolism in the hours or days that follow. Also, there is some evidence that HIIT may suppress appetite.

HIIT isn’t a miracle maker. Keep in mind that the HIIT protocols used in clinical studies have often been pretty exhausting, more intense than you would likely do yourself. Also, individual results can vary, as is the case for any form of exercise.

Secret #2: Record it!

Whether it’s HIIT or regular cardio, if you want to reduce body fat as quickly as possible, then you need to record your workout accomplishments. Doing so will help you ensure that they are progressive, i.e., your body is challenged to work harder during each workout.

Make it easy for yourself! Duration and calories expended are two of the simplest things to record, and most modern cardio equipment displays both of them. During your next workout, try to burn more calories in the same amount of time. Or, try to burn the same amount of calories in less time. Record your accomplishments and try to beat them at the workout that follows.

Secret #3: Keep it fresh!

It happens to the best of us: We start using a piece of cardio equipment, we become comfortable with it, and then we continue to use it, over and over and over again.

Keep it fresh! Change your choice of cardio weekly, if not more often. This will make your workouts more fresh, fun and challenging. Changing things up may also help you avoid repetitive strain injuries.

A well-equipped gym should have multiple pieces of cardio equipment to choose from: treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, Stairclimber, Stepmill, Jacob’s Ladder, etc. Use them all. Don’t limit yourself.

Secret #4: Try these sample workouts!

There are a ton of HIIT workouts on the Web. Below is just a small collection that you can use to get started.

  • Stationary cycle: You can use this      basic HIIT workout on a regular cycle or a spinning cycle.
    • Warm-up: 5       minutes at low intensity.
    • High-intensity       spinning: 1 minute.
    • Low-intensity       spinning: 1 minute.
    • Repeat 8 times.
    • Cool-down: 5       minutes with gradually decreasing intensity.
  • Stepmill workout #1:
    • Level 5: 2       minutes.
    • Level 12: 2       minutes.
    • Repeat 8 times.
  • Stepmill workout #2: This HIIT      workout comes from a female fitness competitor and cover model:
    • Level 8: 3       minutes.
    • Level 10: 1       minute.
    • Level 12: 1       minute.
    • Level 16: 1       minute (or as long as you can).
    • Go back to       Level 8 and repeat. Beginners can skip Level 16.
  • Jacob’s Ladder: Two HIIT workouts      are available at this link:


Secret #5: Don’t overdo it.
HIIT is intense. Start by doing it once a week. Increase it to twice a week as your stamina improves, and depending on your goals, up to three times a week. If you are doing both your weight workout and cardio in the same session, do weights first. If you find it difficult to recover, try doing cardio and weights on separate days. This may allow for better recovery and help you retain more lean muscle as you drop body fat.
Bonus Secret! #6: Ain’t no half steppin!

When you do cardio, use the full range of motion, just as you would when lifting weights. Or, as Big Daddy Kane rapped, “Ain’t no half steppin.”

It’s been said that partial reps build a partial muscle. It’s true. This becomes especially apparent when you resume using the full range of motion in your weight room exercises after a period of using partial reps. Within a matter of days, your muscles will appear fuller and more defined throughout their entire length. To the untrained eye (your grandmother, say), the difference may not be noticeable. To the experienced bodybuilder, however, it is like night and day.

The same rule applies to cardio. When you do “mini steps” on the Stairclimber, Stepmill or elliptical machine, for instance, it may feel easier, but you’re only cheating yourself. Using a longer, deeper step or stride will improve the appearance and performance of your muscles.

In the next issue…Part 2:  Supplements that can help you reduce fat faster with cardio! In the final part of this 2-part series, we’ll reveal which supplements you can use to maximize your fat-loss results with HIIT cardio!

The girls guide to supplements: supplements can give you that extra edge to burn fat and gain lean muscle faster. Here’s a list of the 15 best

A good, hard, training regimen is the only way to get a perfectly lean body, and it releases all those endorphins that make you feel awesome afterward. But by all estimates, a sound nutritional program accounts for around 80 percent of your results. What those accounts don’t, er, account for, is the power of supplements. Add these 15 critical elements to your diet, and you’ll supercharge your lean muscle gains, accelerate fat loss and improve your overall health.


WHAT IT IS: One of milk’s two proteins.

WHAT IT DOES: Whey’s primary characteristic is its digestibility. Once in the body, it breaks down quickly, swiftly sending its aminos to muscle tissue. This is beneficial because there are certain times of day (first thing in the morning, before and after workouts) when the lean wholefood proteins we normally recommend (eggs, chicken breast, lean steak, fish) digest too slowly to be effective. But whey doesn’t deliver only protein. It contains peptides (protein fragments) that have been shown to increase blood flow to muscles, which is particularly helpful before workouts, so that muscles will receive more oxygen, nutrients and hormones right when they need them.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Take 20 grams of whey protein (mixed in water) first thing upon waking, within 30 minutes before workouts and another 20 g within 30 minutes after training. And you can always have a scoop as a snack between meals.


WHAT IT IS: Any number of compounds that serve to increase levels of nitric oxidein the bloodstream.

WHAT IT DOES: NO relaxes the muscles that control blood vessels, which makes them increase in diameter, allowing more blood to flow through them and to muscles. Because blood carries oxygen and nutrients such as glucose, fat and amino acids, more of these getting to your muscles allows for better energy production–so you can train harder for longer–and better recovery from workouts, which means bigger muscles that can be trained more often. Blood also contains a high percentage of water, which gets pushed through those wider blood vessels into muscles to create the muscle pump you experience when you train. That pump stretches the membranes of muscle cells, signaling the cells to grow bigger. In addition, NO enhances lipolysis, which is the release of fat from the body’s fat cells, allowing it to be burned for fuel.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Look for products that include ingredients such as arginine, citrulline, GPLC (glycine propionyl-L-carnitine) or Pyenogenol. Take one dose of an NO-boosting supplement about 30-60 minutes before workouts.


WHAT IT IS: Only the world’s most popular (and legal) stimulant drug.

WHAT IT DOES: You already know it perks you up and improves focus, but it also has been found to boost muscle strength, intensity and fat loss during workouts. And it works especially well when taken with green tea extract. Caffeine increases the amount of fat that gets released from your fat cells. Meanwhile, green tea boosts metabolic rate, which is the way the body burns fat in the bloodstream. Taking these compounds together means that more of the fat that caffeine has released will get burned up for good, allowing your fat cells to shrink away.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Take 200-400 milligrams of caffeine two or three times per day, with one dose 30-60 minutes before workouts.


What IT IS: Two essential omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) ekgife- and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

WHAT IT DOES: What doesn’t fish oil do? It reduces inflammation; reduces muscle and joint recovery; reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancers; and, a biggie, it also has been found to turn on genes that stimulate fat burning and turn off genes that increase fat storage.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Take 2 g of fish oil three times daily, with breakfast, lunch and dinner.


WHAT IT IS: The other of milk’s two proteins.

WHAT IT DOES: Though they come from the same place, whey and casein couldn’t be more different. Casein is extremely slow to digest which means it provides a steady stream of aminos over a span of several hours. That makes it ideal for certain time periods, like right before bed, when your body is about to go without food for seven to eight hours. In fact, one study performed by the Weider Research Group found that when subjects took casein protein before bed, they gained more muscle than those who took casein in the morning. Another study found that when subjects consumed a mix of whey and casein after workouts, they had improved muscle growth as compared to subjects who took just whey.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Take 20 g of casein right before bed. Also consider combining 10 grams of casein with 10 g of whey in your postworkout shake.


WHAT IT IS: Three aminos (isoleucine, leucine and valine) that share a branched molecular structure.

WHAT IT DOES: The unique structure of BCAAs gives them certain unique properties, all of which have physique benefits. BCAAs can increase the length of your workouts–they can be burned as fuel by muscle tissue and they actually blunt fatigue in the brain. The BCAAs are also intimately involved in the creation of new muscle tissue, both as the building blocks and as the builder. Leucine, in particular, promotes protein synthesis, which is the process by which muscle grows. BCAAs also boost growth-hormone levels, reduce Cortisol and increase levels of insulin, the anabolic hormone that’s critical to replenishing muscle tissue with nutrients after workouts.

HOWTOTAKEIT: Take5-10g of BCAAs with preworkout and postworkout shakes.


WHAT IT IS: An amino-acid-like compound that occurs naturally in muscle tissue.

WHAT IT DOES: Creatine’s most basic function is to help muscles create fast energy during exercise. Taking supplemental creatine increases the amount of energy the body has to draw upon, increasing endurance and strength. The compound also draws water into muscle cells, increasing their size and causing a stretch that can yield permanent growth.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Take 2-5 g of creatine (depending on the form you use) before and after workouts with pre- and postworkout shakes.


WHAT IT IS: A nonessential amino acid.

WHAT IT DOES: When beta-alanine meets another amino acid, histidine, a beautiful thing happens; They get together and form a compound called carnosine. Carnosine has been shown to improve muscle size, strength and endurance and increase fat loss. Since the amount of carnosine the body can produce is directly dependent on how much beta-alanine is present, it makes sense to supplement with beta-alanine.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Take 1-3 g of beta-alanine immediately before and immediately after workouts.


WHAT IT IS: A healthy fat that just happens to be an omega-6 fatty acid.

WHAT IT DOES: Although other omega-6 fats are not so healthy, primarily because Americans tend to get too much of them in their diet, CLA is different. Numerous studies confirm that it enhances fat loss while simultaneously boosting muscle growth and strength. It works by two mechanisms: decreasing the amount of fat that is stored in fat cells and boosting metabolism. It also appears to burn more fat during sleep, thereby sparing muscle tissue.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Take about 2 g of CLA three times daily, with breakfast, lunch and dinner.


WHAT IT IS: An essential mineral.

WHAT IT DOES: Just about everyone knows that calcium is intrinsically linked to bone health, but did you know that it’s also required for muscle contraction? Without adequate calcium, muscles won’t contract properly. And research shows that this unassuming mineral can also help spur fat loss, particularly the fat around your midsection. This may be because calcium decreases the amount of dietary fat that’s absorbed by the intestines and suppresses a hormone called calcitriol, which is responsible for fat production and reducing fat burning.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Take 500-600 mg of calcium twice a day.


WHAT IT IS: The sunshine vitamin

WHAT IT DOES: New research keeps coming, all of it demonstrating D’s ample health benefits, from protecting against cancer and other diseases to improving bone integrity, which it does by assisting with calcium absorption. Vitamin D is also associated with greater muscle strength–interacting with receptors on muscle fibers to activate genes that increase muscle strength and growth. As a plus, D can aid fat loss, especially when taken in conjunction with calcium.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Take about 2,000 international units of vitamin D twice a day at the same time you take calcium.


WHAT IT IS: The active ingredients in green tea, particularly the polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate.

WHAT IT does: EGCG blocks an enzyme that normally breaks down norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter/hormone related to adrenaline that increases metabolic rate and fat burning, keeping norepinephrine levels higher. Green tea extract also has been found to enhance muscle recovery after intense workouts, as well as aid joint recovery.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Take about 500 mg of green tea extract standardized for EGCG three times daily before meals, with one dose about 30-60 minutes before workouts.

13/B COMPLEX 100

WHAT IT IS: A series of essential vitamins.

What It Does: Think of it this way: B makes you buzz. The suite of B vitamins are critically involved in helping your body derive energy from the nutrients you eat and helping get oxygen to muscle tissue. Feeling rundown and lacking energy? It’s likely because you’re deficient in B vitamins, a common trait of hard-training individuals. Certain B vitamins have additional benefits–riboflavin can help the body digest and use the protein you’re eating to make sure you’re building muscle properly, and folic acid, in addition to being essential to fetal health, is involved in NO production in the body.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Look for a B complex 100, which will provide 100 mg of most of the B vitamins, including thiamin ([B.sub.1]), riboflavin ([B.sub.2]), niacin ([B.sub.3])s pantothenic acid ([B.sub.5]) and pyridoxine ([B.sub.6]), as well as at least 100 micrograms of cobalamin ([B.sub.12]), folic acid ([B.sub.9]) andbiotin([B.sub.7]).


WHAT IT IS: An essential vitamin.

WHAT IT DOES: At the first sign of a tickle in your throat you probably start mainlining the C That’s good, because the vitamin has been shown to boost immune function. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is also involved in the synthesis of hormones, amino acids and collagen and, on top of all that, it destroys free radicals, created from exercise and other stressors, that break down nitric oxide. Sparing NO from free-radical damage means you’ll have higher NO levels, and higher NO levels lead to increases in muscle endurance, a reduction in fatigue and an increase lean muscle growth and strength.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Take 1,000 mg twice a day with meals.


WHAT IT IS: A blend of adequate amounts of major micronutrients.

WHAT IT DOES: Put simply, a multivitamin/multimineral complex fills in all the nutritional gaps in your diet. And, although we suggest you supplement separately with calcium and vitamins B, C and D, you should still take a standard multi. It will help eliminate the possibility of deficiencies in some of the other vitamins and minerals that can result from reduced food variety or calorie intake (read: dieting) and increased vitamin loss from exercise. Being deficient in many of these micronutrients can lead to low energy levels and restrict muscle growth, strength gains and fat loss.

HOW TO TAKE IT: Look for a multi that provides a minimum of 100% of the daily value of C, D, E and most of the B-complex vitamins and at least 100% of zinc, copper and chromium. Take it once per day with a meal, such as breakfast, hers

Article written by Jim Stoppani, Muscle & Fitness/Hers / July-August, 2011

Quercetin Boosts Endurance


Quercetin is an antioxidant found in apple skins, cranberries, blueberries, onions, tea, and red wine. It might be an effective supplement for active bodybuilders, because it prevents illness and improves cell aerobic capacity.  A study from Appalachian State University showed that supplementing quercetin for two weeks caused small increases in endurance performance, compared to a placebo.  They noted a trend toward increased muscle cell mitochondria (the cell energy centers).


Other studies concluded that quercetin reduced inflammation, boosted the immune system, stimulated mental performance, protected the heart from coronary artery disease, and prevented protein breakdown. Quercetin supplements prevented colds, improved exercise performance and increased mitochondria.  It also has caffeine-like effects, which might promote mental and physical performance.  Quercetin supplements might prevent overtraining, strengthen the immune system, and improve general health.  (Medicine Science Sports Exercise, 42: 338-345, 2010)