Left your run a bit late to get your summer body ready? Feeling a little flabby from a gluttonous winter and want to get in great shape and fast? Bootcamp, Zumba, Yoga, Crossfit, Running, Circuit or Pilates; how should you best invest your time when it comes to training when you want to tone up for the beach season ahead? 

In 2008 the University of New South Wales in Sydney decided to look at whether High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was beneficial to fat loss in young women. The experiment split the women into three main groups: 

  • Group A: no intervention 
  • Group B: 40 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, such as a steady jog, three days 
a week 
  • Group C: an interval of eight seconds maximal work with 12 seconds rest, for 20 minutes, three days a week, also known as HIIT 

Interestingly, they found improvements in fitness in both Group B and C but only the HIIT group had significant decreases in total body mass and body fat

Alternatively a study published by the University of Sydney looked at populations who had never trained before and broken them into 3 groups 

  • Group A: walking 33 minutes, three days a week 
  • Group B: intervals of four minutes moderate intensity running, three minutes walking, four repeats, three days a week 
  • Group C: intervals of 30 seconds maximal intensity running, four minutes walking, three repeats, three days a week (HIIT) 

They discovered that there was no significant difference between Group A and Group C in terms of fat loss, however HIIT is a much more time-efficient solution for similar results. And the biggest thing to be taken out of this particular research is the fact that walking for 30 minutes a day is a fantastic way to manage your body fat. 

Further to this a 2014 study by the Harvard School of Public Health looked at 10,500 men over 12 years. Researchers measured the participants’ waist circumferences and body weight over this time comparing the changes over time with participants identifying what type of activity they did in the previous year and how much time they spent doing that activity each week. They found those that spent on average 20 minutes a day experienced the following: 

  • Moderate aerobic exercise – on average lost 33 centimetres 
  • Resistance training – on average lost 65 centimetres 
  • Watching TV – on average lost 0.8 centimetre 

The conclusion of this study was not that you could watch TV and still lose weight but that resistance training is a one of the most effective methods to control your abdominal fat. 

So if you are looking to lose fat and tone up for this beach season. Here are a few things to think about 

  1. Walking: everyday walk as much as you can, ideally 10 000 steps. Even if you exercise regularly your sedentary behaviour could be hampering your results. If you are new to exercise, walking is a great place to start moving. 
  1. Resistance training: Do a couple of days of resistance training will help increase the rate at which you burn fat and improve the tone and definition of your body. Haven’t trained before start with the basics and have a personalised program created for you. 
  1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Do a couple of days of more intense cardiovascular training where your heart rate gets above 80% of it’s maximum, the point where you struggle to talk at the same time. This can be high tempo circuits, sprints on a bike or playing social sport. 

To maximise the results for our clients we often start a training session with low intensity exercise 10 minutes, then move into 30 minutes of resistance training and finish with 5 minutes of high intensity interval training. The methods/exercises are many and varied based on the needs of the individual but the principles for look great are few.