Last winter I did an interview, “The Craig Ballantyne Turbulence Training Interrogation” with Joel Marion, a former Body-for-Life Transformation Contest winner. It’s something you need to read if you’re interested in losing belly fat with interval training.
An Interview with Craig Ballantyne
If you perform 30-45 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise almost daily, yet you’re still not losing fat nearly as quickly as you’d like, it could be that all that cardio is actually holding you back. Body transformation contest expert Joel Marion sits down with “Just Say No to Cardio” author Craig Ballantyne to find out the truth about fat loss.
Joel Marion: Craig, you just wrote a very controversial fat loss book called Just Say No to Cardio (which we’ll be getting into shortly), but for those of our readers who may not be familiar with you, tell us a little bit about your background and some of the other things you’re involved in.
Joel, I’ve been helping men and women lose fat without slow-go cardio since 2000 through my best selling fat loss program, Turbulence Training, in addition to having well over a hundred articles published in magazines like Oxygen, Muscle & Fitness Hers, and Men’s Health. I also hold a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology.
JM: Turbulence Training really has become a revolution in the fitness industry with people all over the world dropping weight and getting into fantastic shape without ever doing a “typical” cardio workout. In fact, in your book you talk about some of the myths surrounding low-intensity cardio and weight loss. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the latest research your cardio, fat loss, and interval training recommendations are based on?
Sure thing. Despite what the general fitness crowd teaches, long, slow cardio sessions just aren’t a great way to lose fat. One study from the journal Obesity discovered that when men and women did 6 hours of cardio per week for a full year, the average woman’s weight loss was only 4 pounds. That’s a lot of work for almost no results.
A second study from the International Journal of Obesity had an even scarier finding. Researchers discovered that some subjects will gain weight when they start a cardio program because they end up eating more food each day. The scientists call these folks “compensators”, and this behavior might explain why some women do so much cardio and find that their thighs get bigger.
So most folks are just hoping and praying for cardio success, but without results.
Finally, a recent study from Australia compared 40 minutes of regular cardio against 20 minutes of interval training. Each workout was done 3 times per week, but at the end of the study, only the interval training group lost belly fat.
That’s three strikes for regular cardio.
JM: And let me add strikes four and five. I was recently looking at studies from the University of Texas and Lincoln University that resulted in similar findings—up to 14 hours per week of mostly slow cardio and subjects actually gained weight. So there’s some compelling, additional validity to the “compensator” theory. So if regular cardio isn’t the answer for men and women looking to lose fat, what is?
With the Turbulence Training approach, I train women with a two-factor fat loss program. First, we do resistance training, often using a lot of bodyweight exercises and some dumbbell exercises.
Research shows that resistance training alone can help women lose fat. One of the secrets of an effective resistance training program is to use a high-intensity. You won’t get results using a weight you can lift 25 times.
Second, we use interval training, which I’ll discuss a little later in the interview.
JM: Very cool, Craig. Now, you mentioned bodyweight exercises. One thing I’ve always liked about Turbulence Training is that you can do the workouts at home without any fancy equipment. Can you give our readers some insight on a great, high-intensity fat-burning workout that they can do in their living room?
There are 5 fat burning moves I put in every workout. You can do these with only your bodyweight, but you can also use an exercise ball or dumbbells for variety. One way to do these 5 exercises is in a circuit.
Start with a squatting movement. This could be bodyweight squats, dumbbell squats, or even split squats (stationary lunges).
The second movement is a pressing exercise, either a pushup variation or some type of dumbbell press.
The third movement is a pulling exercise. I recommend dumbbell rows.
The fourth movement is any single-leg exercise, such as lunges, split squats, or lying 1-leg hip extensions for beginners.
Finally, the circuit finishes with a total-body ab exercise. This can be a plank, side plank, mountain climber, or an exercise ball ab move like jackknives or rollouts. Rest one minute at the end of the circuit and then repeat 2-3 more times.
JM: It really is the ultimate way to exercise for burning massive amounts calories and dropping fat fast. I also talk about interval training in that article, which you alluded to earlier. Can you give our readers a basic explanation of what you mean by interval training?
Interval training is alternating between short burst of harder-than-normal-cardio with short recovery periods.
For example, if you can normally run on the treadmill at 6mph for 30 minutes, we’d have you do 1 minute of interval training at 7.5 mph followed by easy walking recovery at 3.0 mph. We’ll repeat that 5 more times. Including a warmup and cooldown, you’re looking at 20 minutes total. Interval training takes only half the time of normal cardio, but you will get more results.
JM: I couldn’t agree more. Now, getting back to Just Say No to Cardio, what would you say are the top two myths surrounding cardio and weight loss?
The first has to be the fat burning zone. By exercising in the “fat burning zone”, as some folks like to call it, you only burn a few extra calories than if you weren’t doing any exercise at all! Slow, boring cardio workouts are not the best way to lose belly fat. If you truly want to change your body, you need to use short, burst-type exercise and home fitness workouts.
The second is the myth that we need to get up and do slow cardio on an empty stomach in order to burn fat. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no fat loss magic to doing cardio on an empty stomach. In fact, most trainers “in-the-know” are using intervals instead of slow, boring cardio to help their clients burn fat fast. Plus, who wants to be doing boring cardio at 6am while their stomach is rumbling?
JM: Interesting stuff. I also dropped the empty stomach cardio recommendation more than five years ago when I came across research showing that those who consumed a small meal before their workout actually increased performance and burned more calories.
Another study showed no difference in the amount of fat burned when performing workouts on an empty stomach, so for those reading and doing empty stomach cardio, make the switch to more effective workouts today!
Research shows again and again that folks need social support to help them lose weight. For many men and women, they don’t have social support at home, so they need to go online to find a positive fat loss community for motivation and encouragement to stick to their diet and program.
Research from Sweden shows the more you use online fat loss support websites, the more fat you will lose. That’s why I created the Turbulence Training online support forum, and everyone who starts using Turbulence Training gets a free 3-month membership.
JM: Thanks for the informative interview Craig!
Great speaking with you Joel, and I hope this has helped everyone understand Turbulence Training even better.
And to everyone, please let me know if you have any other questions about Turbulence Training.
To your success,
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Author, Turbulence Training