If you’re looking to shape up for summer, running is a great calorie burner! In fact, running can burn up to ten calories per minute (depending on age, weight and fitness levels). Run for half an hour, between three and five times a week, and you’re looking at burning up to 4,000 calories.
However, the type of sessions you do is key to how efficient your calorie expenditure will be. While long steady runs are great for building up endurance for a long distance event, they aren’t very effective for losing weight. Here’s three interval sessions for burning optimum calories. Integrate one to two of these sessions into your training each week for fast results.
Aerobic intervals are periods of measured work and recovery at pre-set intensities and durations. They improve your fitness and get you working hard.
Warm up first for five to ten minutes. Run at around a seven or eight out of ten intensity level for three minutes, then reduce your speed and run at an intensity level of six out of ten for three minutes. Repeat three to five times. Cool down for five minutes. In short, the ratio of the intervals should always be the same, so in other words, the harder interval is the same duration as the easier interval. This is a high intensity workout, so only do this twice a week.
Out and back run
Ideal for when time is tight. Head out for a run lasting around 30 minutes. When you’ve been running for 15 minutes, turn back and head home, aiming to get back home in 13 minutes. This means you’ve had to push considerably harder on the second part of the run. Make sure you warm up first. If time is even tighter, make it a 20-minute run – ten minutes out, eight/nine minutes back.
Lactic Acid Intervals
These are tough but great for burning fat and getting you much fitter. Lactic acid is produced in the muscles all the time, but is cleared and converted back into glucose when the body’s energy needs can be met aerobically. At higher intensities, lactic acid cannot be broken down, so it will begin to accumulate in the blood and you end up with an oxygen debt. Warm up for five to ten minutes. Run fast, at an intensity of around eight to nine out of ten for 30 to 60 seconds. Then have a recovery interval where you run at a comfortable, much easier pace. The interval ratios should be 1:2 – i.e. if you run hard for one minute, you can run at an easier pace for two minutes. Repeat this up to five times.
Make sure you cool down for five minutes at the end, because the harder intervals will feel challenging and can lead to injury if you don’t take the right precautions. Only do this type of session twice per week. Never follow a hard session with another challenging session the next day. Always allow 48 hours of recovery in between sessions.
These sessions are taken from a feature by Chris Macdonald on running for weight loss, in the June issue of Women’s Running magazine. For the full feature, head to pages 30 and 31 of the magazine.