If you want to lose fat, it goes as no surprise for me to say that taking up a sport is one of the best ways to achieve that goal!
However, not just any sport will do! Although all and every sport is good for increasing your heart rate and can burn fat, what we really need to consider is that most sports involve a type of cardiovascular exercise. Now, in cardio, there are 3 basic types –
1. Metabolic Bursting
2. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
3. Steady-state cardio
Metabolic bursting means an all-out effort – running, swimming, cycling, spinning, etc. AS FAST AS YOU CAN, at intensities of 90-100% of your max effort but for only about 20-30 seconds at a time. Then comes 10-15 seconds of lower intensity (about 60%) before you do it again. Do this 10-20 times and you’re done. HIIT means a slightly less all-out but still high-intensity effort, at about 80% of your max, for 2 minutes, followed by 1 minute of 60% intensity. Repeat this 3-5 times. Steady-state means going at about 60% of your max continuously, such as jogging, or running on a treadmill.
To lose fat, you should, ideally, do all three of these – metabolic bursting is so fast that your body can’t get enough oxygen into your lungs to power the effort required to perform the activity, so this forces your body to run to its fat stores to get more energy. When you follow that up with HIIT, this fat is then moved into the bloodstream to provide a constant source of energy to cells, so that your body can handle the longer periods of strenuous activity. Finally steady-state moves the fat in the bloodstream into your kidneys. Drinking lots of water after a cardio workout allows you to remove the fat from the body through urination. So now it’s gone!
So let’s look at a list of sports that can be classified as bursting, HIIT or steady-state –
Bursting – sprinting, cycling, spinning, swimming (as long as you do them at max effort)
HIIT – basketball, baseball, squash, burpees, circuit training
Steady-state – jogging, tennis, badminton, long-distance running
Not even close – golf, walking, tai chi
So choose which sports you would like to do and get active! Ideally you should do all 3 types of cardio. What’s great about the sports listed under “Bursting” is that you can vary the intensity to experience all 3 levels, whereas sports like basketball can only go as intense as HIIT but no more, but it can also involve some steady-state. So for example, you could choose two sports, where one is basketball (for HIIT and steady-state) and the other is sprinting (for bursting).
So get organised and choose sports that can lead you to your fat loss goals!