How Often Can I Do Interval Training for Fat Loss?

interval trainingHere’s a really common fat burning question…”How often can I do interval training for fat loss? Can I do it every day?”

Well, the truth is that you shouldn’t be able to do interval training every day. If you can do interval training six times a week then you’re not busting your butt hard enough in the interval training in the first place.

As I always like to say, look at the playoffs in any sport. Those are pro athletes and even they’re not playing six days a week.  They’re taking a day off.  So if pro athletes take a day off, why can’t you take a day off?

I really think the problem is that most people still aren’t getting the hang of the interval intensity.  Folks are so used to doing long, slow cardio workouts and they think they have to have their heart rate elevated at a certain beats per minute level ALL the time.

And because of that mindset, they never end up doing a proper recovery interval or going hard enough in the work interval. So the thing most folks need to do is not do intervals longer or more frequently, but instead do them with more quality. Get rid of that marathon mentality.cardio workout

Just say NO to cardio.

This goes for those people who are telling me they’re doing intervals for 45 minutes.

Well, what type of interval training are you doing 45 minutes?  You can do aerobic intervals for 45 minutes. That’s fine. I understand that. That’s what a marathon runner needs to do. But that’s not needed for a fat loss program.

Fat loss intervals don’t need to be done for 45 minutes. If you’re doing the short, intense, sprint interval type training I have no idea how you could possibly do an interval workout for 45 minutes. You’re probably really doing cardio for the last 15 of it and you may as well shut it down and go do something else and recover.
By OVER-doing intervals a lot you end up with the exactly problem that we’re trying to get away from with the cardio stuff, which is the over use injury risk. Do intervals no more than three or four times per week if you’re going to use them.

In the most recent belly fat burning interval training study, the one from Australia, the women did only three 20-minute interval training sessions per week. That’s it. Not 6 days per week. Not 45 minutes per session. Not “cardio”.

So stick to quality intervals.

You could also consider completely ditching the machines for interval training and getting outside as much as possible to do your intervals, even if you have to brave some elements. But always train safe, of course!

Or try some of the alternative workouts to interval training. Body weight circuits. Barbell complexes. Check out my youtube videos for more alternative interval training workouts. Try this barbell complex workout below…you’ll love it for fat loss. It sure beats doing long, slow cardio!

Train hard, but safe,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

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  • Victoria Rosenberg

    Craig- Love your energy! Thank you for the free work-outs. I’ve been useing them for myself and my clients and find the sequence to be challenging and effective. Do you have an e-book? I would like to purchase a fat loss work-out book but to be honest I do not need another book on the shelf. Thank you for
    all the time and energy you put into your site.

  • You suggested using bodyweight circuits as an alternative to interval training. Does it mean that I can get my interval training done by doing bodyweight circuits? Will I be getting a total body workout at the same time?

    I would appreciate it if you could suggest a bodyweight circuit intervals for a beginner.

    Thank you.

  • Sarah

    I have a problem – I want to run a marathon this year and i enjoy doing the long slowburing kind of aerobic activity that you deplore 🙂 – however I also want to burn fat as I have recently gained aorund 5 kilos , although some of this may be muscle as i started rock climbing too.

    Bascially i want to know – can i do the interval training as well as the marathon training? and loose weight?

    i feel like i actaully put on weight when i am training for a race – although have only started running seriously for a year.

    any hints would be most welcome!

  • Runner enthusiast

    I once do running interval everyday with 1 minute of running and two minute of walking for 45 minute. The good news is i lost 5 kg in a week the bad news is at the end of the week i got runner knee. So yeah people interval training work but are very risky

  • Andy

    Try doing intervals while swimming – no impacts on joints to worry about.