Friday, July 22, 2016

Burn Fat With High Intensity Cardio
Are you one of those hard core cardio people who spend an hour or more running on the treadmill or gliding on the elliptical? Do you want to increase your cardiovascular and muscular strength and endurance, and cut fat without compromising lean muscle tissue to reveal your best physique ever? Have you been asking yourself, why is my physique not changing? If this is you, then you must start training smarter and not longer by incorporating HIIT training right now into your training routine.

Burn Fat With High Intensity Cardio

I have been tirelessly watching these people for years, like guinea pigs, endlessly pedaling and strolling in their hopes of creating that lean, muscular and fit physique they dream of. Sorry to be blunt, but it will never work! I'm definitely not going to say that it is easy, it is not for the faint of heart, but for those of you who dare to push yourself to that next level!

Long slow distance (LSD) and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) have been an on-going cardio debate among fitness professionals for years. I for one, have been on the HIIT ban wagon for as long as I can remember and have been promoting it to my clients and athletes for the past 15 years. Since my early days as an athlete, I have always sprinted whether it was on ice or land and never really understood why someone would cycle or run for hours on end in hopes of improving performance or appearance. As an athlete we are trained to work at high intensities for ultimate performance and results and as a bonus we had the muscular lean physiques to reflect the high intensity training. Even long distance runners train at high intensity levels to help improve their long distance performance. So it makes no sense that you should not be doing the same to help achieve your personal best performance and physique. Obviously, do it at your own fitness level. You would never see a deconditioned Olympic athlete and you would definitely not see them doing endless hours of cardio to improve their performance!

So you're thinking that all this cardio that I have been doing is not healthy or beneficial? Yes, to some extent it is beneficial to your health in the sense that you are training your heart muscle. However, the question is, are you really improving your heart's health and strength to it's full potential? As well, with hours of endless cardio you are also compromising your knees, hips, ankles and low back due to the repetitive impact, which can lead to overuse injuries. Secondly, when you perform long-duration, moderate-intensity exercise, you can actually put yourself in a catabolic state in which you will start losing muscle mass. That's right - some of that hard-earned muscle will start degrading itself in your quest to get lean! HIIT training has a number of heart healthy benefits (similar to regular cardio) in addition to the reduction in training time. First of all, this type of training is far superior to steady-state exercises when it comes to increasing your VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen you can uptake during exercise. This means that you will actually see steady improvement in your strength, speed, stamina, agility AND the way you look!

What is this HIIT training and how can I incorporate it into my daily routine? It is quite simple. HIIT is cardio performed at such an intense level that your body will spend the rest of the day expending energy just to recover from the ass-kicking you gave it. This is commonly referred to as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) and it means that you consume a great deal more oxygen recovering from the exercise bout than you would have if you'd just done a steady-state workout. With this being said, your body will burn up to 9 times more calories at rest later in the day than if you were to stroll for an hour on the treadmill. Obviously you will have to push yourself beyond your cozy comfort zone that you have gotten used to over the years and really challenge yourself. It is not easy, but I guarantee that this is what your body has been craving for years!

HIIT training is short and intense and potentially burns hundreds more calories and dramatically changes the shape of your physique. I find HIIT training works best by consistently changing the speed, distance, time and intensity to shock your body into burning up extra fat calories. This routine can be done using any type of cardiovascular workout (my favorites are running, ARC and StepMill) A basic HIIT routine might consist of a five to ten minute warm-up at a moderate pace, followed by the highest increase in intensity you feel you can exert between 20 seconds to 1 minute, and a return to a moderate pace for another minute of recovery.

I typically encourage to repeat this pattern for the remainder of the workout, which can continue anywhere from six to ten repetitions or 15 to 30 minutes depending on your fitness level. Starting out, you will likely find that a one-minute rest period is too little. If this is the case, it is OK to increase your recovery time, just until you feel you can go full intensity again. As with most cardio workout routines, HIIT should be performed about three times a week and you should gradually work up your intensity, time and repetitions over a period of several weeks.

HIIT cardio interval training method is an intense and quick workout routine but very effective. If you are looking to shorten your workouts, improve your cardiovascular conditioning, improve muscular strength endurance, maintain hard earned fat burning muscle and to look and feel your best then HIIT will ensure that you will meet all your fitness goals!

Karen Gallagher customizes programs for competitive athletes and individuals from advanced to beginner fitness levels. She supports her clients with motivation, goal setting and nutritional programs to best suit their needs and goals. Discover more about health & fitness at []

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Steady State, HIIT, Or LISS Cardio? What Are They And What Do They Mean?
What is HIIT? What is LISS? What is steady state? Trying to keep up with the newest fitness trends is a challenge these days. Today I would like to clear up a few of the most common types of cardio.

Ever been exhausted from walking up stairs or doing yard work? Starting some form of cardio is bound to improve your everyday life. Doing cardio has been known to help depression, anxiety, and many other health factors that many of us suffer from daily. Being an online personal trainer I custom tailor exercise programs for my clients based off their fitness goals.

Steady State, #HIIT, Or LISS #Cardio ? What Are They And What Do They Mean?

The programs that I design for my clients will always have some form of cardio in it at some point.

Cardio should always be apart of any fitness program. The most common question I get when my clients get their program is, what does HIIT mean? What is LISS? What is steady state? These are fitness terms us fit freaks always use. If your new to the fitness world all these terms will be quite confusing. Which is why I decided to write this article to help clear things up a bit. I'm not going to go into great detail or science on each form of cardio as this article is for people new to fitness and could start to confuse you. Better to keep things simple and to the point!


Steady State is when you exercise at a steady pace for an extended period of time. It's the most common form of cardio to this day. Steady state will have you using about 65% of your max heart rate. Normally steady state cardio last for a period greater than 30 minutes at a time. Here are a few different types of steady state cardio.

  • Running
  • Jogging
  • Cycling
  • Elliptical
  • Stair Climber

Steady State Cardio Jogging


Besides that steady state cardio helps reduce fat cells in the body by using stored energy (fat) for fuel its also great to build up endurance. A greater endurance is something we all can benefit from as it can make everyday life easier.


Choosing the right type of steady state cardio is really easy if you think about it. What's your favorite outdoor activity? Jogging, running, getting on your bike and going for a ride? All of these done for an extended period of time is steady state cardio. If you rather perform indoors then the local gym is full of equipment that can help you out!


Steady state cardio shouldn't be a walk in the park, it should be intense to an extent. The golden rule for steady state is if you're able to carry on conversation with the person next to you then you might want to up the intensity a little.

HIIT CARDIO (High Intensity Interval Training)

To answer the question so many people ask me, what does HIIT mean? To answer the question, High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is a form of cardio that is all out burst of 90-100% maximum capacity followed by a period of sometimes active rest. If you're in a pinch for time then this is a great alternative because you can get a good cardio session in within about 15-20 minutes. Here is an example of HIIT cardio. This type of training will have you using about 85% or more of your max heart rate. An example of HIIT is.

  • Cycle 40 seconds at a RPM of 40
  • Cycle 20 seconds at a RPM of over 100
  • Cycle 40 seconds at a RPM of 40
  • Cycle 20 seconds at a RPM of over 100
  • Cycle 40 seconds at a RPM of 40
  • Cycle 20 seconds at a RPM of over 100
  • Cycle 40 seconds at a RPM of 40
  • Cycle 20 seconds at a RPM of over 100
  • Rest 2 minutes then repeat 3-4 times

HIIT CARDIO (High Intensity Interval Training)


Just like steady state cardio HIIT helps reduce fat cells in the body by using stored energy (fat) for fuel. Another benefit from doing HIIT is time. If you're always on the go, limited on time, and has to out workout within 45 minutes then you might want to consider trying HIIT. Most of the HIIT routines are anywhere from 15-30 minutes long. Not to mention HIIT is one of the more exciting forms of cardio as it involves you changing direction or exercises to keep things more interesting.


Really depends on what you enjoy doing. You can design your HIIT with many different types of exercise. Because of the high intensity I would recommend something like sprints followed by walking or on a stationary bike. These are well grounded exercises that will not require balance challenges. Once you become more experienced you can start adding more difficult exercises.


You will know right after your first round of HIIT. If you're doing it right you will be short of breath and have a pounding heart. It's much more intense than any other type of cardio. I'm sure at one point in your lift you had a food race with a friend across the street or across a field. That feeling when you reach the end and feel completely out of breath and your heart wanting to jump out of your chest is what you want to shoot for.

LISS CARDIO (Low Intensity Steady State)

What does LISS mean, Low Intensity Steady State. LISS is the same as steady state except the intensity is very low. LISS is a more relaxed form of cardio that is normally a period greater than 45 minutes. The max heart rate for LISS is about 65% or less. Some good examples of LISS are.

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Cycling

LISS CARDIO (Low Intensity Steady State)


LISS is not the optimal form of cardio to reduce fat cells. This form of cardio is ideal for people new to fitness, the elder, and very obese people. While it's not as effective as the others not over doing it with extreme cardio is more likely to have people adhere to a fitness program in the beginning.


Like the other forms of cardio it's always best to choose a type of exercise that is most enjoyable to you. If you're new to fitness I would recommend starting with a simple walk around the block then start to experiment with others.


When it comes to what cardio is better for you it's really apples to oranges. All cardio is beneficial especially if your new to fitness. What it comes down to is what you enjoy most, have time for, and your fitness goals. I personally enjoy HIIT after years of being a wrestler long steady state sessions are not my cup of tea.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Top Training Equipment for Your Home Gym
If you are looking for the top training equipment to build up your home gym (as well as your body), this is the article for you. I will share with you those must have exercise equipment for increasing lean muscle mass and decreasing fat stores. Let's have a look at it now!

Top Training Equipment for Your Home Gym


Your first choice for weight training equipment would be dumbbells or barbells. It will help to buy dumbbells in different weight loads. This will help you to increase your weight as you get fitter. Alternatively you can just invest in adjustable dumbbells. In my eyes they are the easiest to use as you can just adjust the weight as you progress.

Weight rack

If you have multiple sets of weights, a weight rack can really come in handy. It will ensure that you don't trip over your weight as they will neatly be stored at one place. For a smaller collection of weights a small weight rack will be perfect.

Kettlebells for your home gym

If you’ve never worked out with a kettlebell before you are missing out! Kettlebells are amazing to combine strength AND cardio workouts together for an effective and quick workout that will burn a TON of calories. They are one of my favorite ways to get a fantastic HIIT workout in and make me feel bikini ready. I would recommend starting with a 12-18 pound kettlebell to start, and then building up your strength from there.


While gloves are not essential weight training equipment, they will project your hands from the weights. Weight training gloves will also prevent weights slipping from your hands; limiting injuries.

Exercise bench

An exercise bench is another essential to have in your home gym; especially if you plan on doing upper body workouts with your weights. You can always use an exercise ball for those exercises, but the exercise bench still beats the ball anytime.

Exercise balls
BOSU balls

If you want to further invest into your home gym, exercise balls are the way to go. You can have a look at medicine balls, BOSU balls and the normal exercise ball. ALl of those equipment will come in handy.

Sit-up bench

A sit-up bench is another handy feature to have in your own gym. It supports your back and makes abs exercises easier, more comfortable and more effective. The only problem with an sit-up bench is that you need a lot of space to store it; but it will look very cool.

A gym mat 

A gym mat is also very essential to have in your personal gym; especially for that all-important stretches. And it's the one weight training equipment that you will always need.

Foam Roller 

Foam rollers are essential for maintaining healthy and happy muscles when you start an exercise routine. Once you get used to how foam rollers feel, you will love that you have your very own masseuse. This foam roller is the absolute best on the market, and really digs in deep to tight muscles. Breaking up “knots” in the muscles allows you to move properly and reach your full range of motion while exercising, allowing for increase strength and mobility.

Jump rope

If you’re looking for one of the best cardio workouts to do at home, invest in a jump rope. You can burn as many as 100 calories in just 10 minutes of jumping. I promise you you’ll be feeling after just 2 minutes! I recommend getting a speed rope, as it’s much smoother with each jump.

Pull up bar 

This is another piece of equipment that hasn’t yet made a debut on here. But, I LOVE my pull up bar. I swear there is no exercise better for building a beautiful back than pull ups. I use my at least once or twice a week, and the more you practice, the more you can do! I remember when I first starting doing pull ups I could barely do ONE! Now I can do 4 sets of 15 no problem!

With these exercise equipment, your home gym will be just as professional and well laid out as any other gym. And you are sure to get a fantastic workout in, right in the comfort of your own home!

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Monday, January 25, 2016

HIIT Vs Steady State - Which Type of Cardio Is Better?
This is a very popular topic in fitness when it comes to cardiovascular workouts. Most people ask me which form of cardio will yield the best results. Before I jump to my recommendation, I would like to outline the pros and cons of each style.

Cardio HIIT

First off, let's start with Steady State Cardio. This is probably the most popular form of cardiovascular activity. In Steady State Cardio, your perceived exertion is low to moderate difficulty over a period of at least 30 minutes. Examples include running/walking/jogging on a treadmill without stopping, running a marathon, hiking, etc. Your heart rate is usually 55-70% of your Projected Heart Rate Max over the duration of your activity. While performing Steady State exercise, you are working your Type 1, slow-twitch muscle fibers which are involved in endurance activities and they do not tend to hypertrophy (grow) as much as your other muscle fibers. While the calories you burn doing Steady State Cardio are mostly from fat, you will not burn as many calories as you would doing Interval Training for the same period of time. Steady State Cardio does not elevate your metabolism post-exercise as well as Interval Training but is much easier on your joints. People of all ages are most likely to be able to perform Steady State Cardio consistently without much discomfort.

Next is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT is growing in its popularity due to its shorter workout times. Most HIIT workouts last 20-30 minutes and are characterized by bursts of maximum activity followed by a short rest period before repeating the activity. Your perceived exertion is high during HIIT with your heart rate falling between 70-85% of your Projected Heart Rate Max. The most popular example of HIIT is running sprints. During HIIT, you are working the more powerful, more strength oriented type 2 muscle fibers which are more likely to hypertrophy (grow). Even though the percentage of the calories you burn during HIIT that come from fat is low, you will still end up burning more fat during your workout than a Steady State Cardio session of the same duration. You can also burn up to 100 more calories in the 24 hours following your HIIT workout. There are some things to watch out for with HIIT. For instance, you should not do HIIT more than 3 times per week as it is very taxing on your joints and nervous system. In addition to that, you are more likely to injure yourself if you did not properly warm up before performing HIIT since your muscles are pushed harder than in Steady State Cardio. It may also be more difficult for older adults to do HIIT since their joints are not as strong as they once were.

After reviewing the pros and cons of both HIIT and Steady State Cardio, I recommend that people should perform 2 days per week of HIIT and 3-4 days a week of Steady State Cardio to get the maximum health and fat burning benefit while preventing your body from breaking down from over working it. Your nervous system is often overlooked with people start a HIIT program and end up burning out early due to doing too many HIIT sessions.

If you would like to learn more about Todd Brown and Fit Body Toddy fitness, visit us at to see how we can help you get to your fitness goals. Also check out the FREE SUMMER SLIM DOWN CHALLENGE to help you get in shape for summer!

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Monday, December 28, 2015

What's the Best Cardio Workout for Weight Loss?
Are you going to the gym because you want to lose weight? Do you spend time doing cardio work, such as running on a treadmill, using a stair step machine, or working out on a elliptical machine?

If your goal is to lose weight by doing cardio, you might want to pay attention, because it's been my experience that the majority of the people who do cardio could burn more calories cleaning the house. Not only that, they'd have a clean house at the end of the hour, too.

Part of the problem is that the mainstream advice couldn't be more wrong about how to correctly workout to maximize fat loss. I did a little self experiment, though I already had a pretty good idea of what to expect, that will help shed some light on what the best approach to cardio is, if you want to lose weight.

My calorie burning cardio expirement.

Best Cardio Workout for Weight Loss

There is a better approach, and I want to show that approach to you. In this article, I will use a few of my workouts and the actual calories burned and fat calories burned to help demonstrate how to get the most from your workout.

Let me start by explaining what I did. I took three different kids of workouts and compared the results. The comparison was made between high intensity interval training (HIIT), long slow distance training (LSD), and medium distance interval training. I chose these three methods, because the first two, HIIT and LSD have been at the center of a debate over the last few years, and there is a great deal of controversy as to which is better for weight loss.

I also added middle distance interval training, so that we could see how this method to compared to the others. I recorded each session and wrote down the duration of the workout, my heart rate, how many calories I burned, and the total fat calories burned. I used my Polar FT60 heart rate monitor for this comparison test.

This experiment is not exact, but it doesn't need to be either. It just needs to be consistent, so we can make an intelligent comparison between the three workouts. The point is, don't worry about the exact numbers used here. Your caloric burn is different than mine, your heart rate is different than mine, and your fitness is different the mine. The conclusions that we draw are more important than the actual numbers used.

Fist, so we are all on the same page, let's take a look at what I mean when I say LSD, HIIT, and MDI.

Is HIIT The Best?

High Intensity Interval Training is akin to sprint training. Essentially, you run very "hard" and then you rest and repeat the effort. The important thing to remember when doing HIIT is that "hard" means at or close to your maximum effort. That's why I say it's like sprint training, you have to really bust your behind and work at your greatest potential. On level of 1-10 in terms of effort, HIIT is an 8-10, when done correctly.

One commonly used method of HIIT training is to work hard for 1 minute and then recover for 1 minute. For fat burning purposes, it is best to slow to a jog during your recovery period rather than stopping entirely. You will burn more calories this way. This work and recovery cycle gets repeated for the duration of the workout.

You can do HIIT training on a variety of exercise equipment, if you don't want to run. I like bikes and elliptical machine for this kind of workout. It's not important what piece of equipment you chose, it's only important that you reach a level of effort of 8-10.

A Benefit of HIIT Training

One thing that many people don't realize is that an intense workout causes the body to burn calories after the workout, which is often referred to as the after burn effect. Exercise is a process of breaking down the body and building it back up, but stronger. When you do intense exercise, the body break down effect is much greater and there is a greater need for repair. The energy that goes into this repairing process burns additional calories, so hard exercise can have a fat blasting effect for hours after your workout.

Both HIIT Training and middle distance interval training are intense enough to give a good afterburning effect.

The Bad About HIIT

Because of the intense nature of HIIT, your body will need time to recover afterwards. It is not practical to do HIIT everyday, and it's difficult, even for very fit people, to do HIIT for a long duration. So, to burn more calories, you cannot simply do more HIIT without overtraining. Because of this, there are calorie burning limits to HIIT.

Some very misinformed people will try to convince you that doing more HIIT is the answer to weight loss stalls, but they are sorely mistaken. Their recommendation will lead to overtraining and overtraining is counterproductive to fat loss.

How Did HIIT Score?

My HIIT workout followed this pattern: 1 minute of a hard run followed by 1 minute of an easy recovery jog. I did this for a total of 23 minutes.

Time: 23 minutes, no measured warm up

Heart rate average: 158

Heart rate max: 168

Calories burned: 315

Fat calories: 31

LSD for Fat Loss

Now, just to be clear, when I talk about LSD for fat loss, it has nothing to do with illegal drugs. So, I am not suggesting you find the local drug dealer and start doing drugs to lose weight. Rather, I am referring to long slow distance training (LSD).

LSD training is the most common approach to cardio training in most commercial gyms. It's often called steady state training, because you exercise at the same pace for your entire workout.

LSD training is not very intense. The goal of LSD training is to exercise for long periods of time, and to do this we need to avoid burning out, so training is slower and easier. It is best to do LSD training at an intensity level somewhere around the 4-7 range.

The Good About LSD

The best things about LSD is that most people can do some form of slow training. They can jog, walk, or even ride a bike for extended periods of time, once they have built up a little bit of strenghth and endurance.

Also, LSD is not terribly intense, so the it is much easier to recover from. In fact, many athletes use LSD training as a recovery workout after previous intense workouts.

The Bad About LSD

With the good comes the bad. Because LSD is not a high intensity exercise, there is less post workout repair needed. So, we will burn fewer calories post-training in the recovery process. The main benefit to LSD is the calories burned while doing the exercise, because relatively few are burned afterwards as a result of the workout.

How did LSD stack up?

Since this was an LSD workout, there was relatively small variation in pace and heart rate throughout the entire workout.

Time: 46 minutes, no measured warm up

Heart rate average: 122

Heart rate max: 131

Calories burned: 396

Fat calories: 99

Is MDI the best fat burning cardio exercise?

Middle distance intervals are not very popular with the fitness crowd. You are more likely to see track athletes and middle distance runners do these types of interval workouts. They are similar to HIIT in that there are work periods and rest periods, but different in that the work periods and rest periods are much longer. For example, a good program for soccer is 5 minutes of work with a 2 minute recovery jog.

When doing MDI, the important thing to remember is to try to maximize the effort during the work period. I do this by measuring the heart rate, but it can be done be estimating your work effort like we talked about with HIIT. An effort of 7-9 is the right range for MDI.

Benefits of MDI

You can burn a lot of calories with an MDI workout. Due to the pace, you wind up with a workout that is relatively short, but covers a pretty good distance.

Also, like HIIT, there is an afterburn effect from doing MDI. This means you will continue to burn calories during the post-workout "healing process".

Downside to MDI

The downside to MDI is that it's hard. Not many people like to push themselves that hard for that long.

How did middle distance intervals stack up?

I wanted to make sure the duration of the workout was exactly the same as the HIIT test, so this workout was done for exactly 23 minutes. That was a bit of an uneven number, so I did 4 sets of 4 minute intervals with a recovery jog of 1 minute between each set. I ended the session with a 3 minute interval, so that I finished exactly at the 23 minute mark.

Time: 23 minutes, no measured warm up

Heart rate average: 160

Heart rate max: 167

Calories burned: 321

Fat calories: 32

So what does this mean and how do we know which one is best for burning fat?

First, let me point out that each workout burned a lot of calories. However, the LSD workout was twice as long as the HIIT and MDI workouts, and that the results were not twice as good. In short, LSD is not an efficient workout.

There wasn't a whole lot of difference between HIIT and MDI. For athletic training purposes there are differences, but for fat loss, there aren't.

Also, since I cannot measure the calories burned in post exercise recovery, it is reasonable to assume that both HIIT and MDI workouts actually burned a few more calories than I show. This is due to the after burn effect. And while the numbers are not huge, it is safe to assume that so our total calories burned in the HIIT and MDI workouts are relatively similar, and close to the equivalent of what was burned in a much longer LSD workout.

LSD burned a higher percentage of fat. It burned 25% vs. the 10% burned by MDI and HIIT. But, you have to devote more time to an LSD workout to see the benefit. So, the question becomes is all that extra time worth burning a few more fat calories? In my mind, it's a rather small gain for all the extra time you have to spend to get the benefit.

Which brings us to the big conclusion: HIIT and MDI are more efficient and give us a great way to burn calories. But, they are too demanding to do everyday. LSD can be done everyday, but you better clear you schedule because you will need more time. Unfortunately for many people long workouts 6 days a week are not an option.

Ultimately, you have to ask yourself two questions. Can you convince yourself to do hard training like HIIT and MDI? And, do you have time to do long workouts like LSD? If you workout with weights, too, you probably don't. Combining weights with LSD makes for a very long workout.

Now that you know how to do cardio training to burn the most amount of fat possible, you are ready to become a fat burning furnace. Just pick an exercise you like, such as biking or running, and go out there and do it.

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