3 Beginner Interval Workouts For Fat Loss

Exercise, Interval Training, Weight Loss No Comments »

Interval training beats the pants off traditional steady-state cardio when it comes to weight loss, improved fitness, and health.

The problem is that lots of articles and books I’ve read want to start you off with brutally high intensity sprints and short, short rests.

Yes, that’s taking things to the next level.  But if you’re brand new to exercising there are two main problems with these super hard, short sprints:

Too much, too soon.  I know people who have passed out on their second high intensity 20 second interval because they were pushing too hard.  Intensity is awesome, but give your body a chance to get used to the idea before you go all out.  (Interval training benefits can be had from walking if you’re a beginner, so don’t blow a gasket trying to be Usain Bolt)

Can’t push hard enough for the benefits.  The infamous Tabata protocol used an intensity of 170% of the subject’s maximum oxygen uptake.  Visualize your lungs and heart going at 100%.  Now add 70% on top of that!  If you’re not pushing that hard, you won’t see the same results.  Most of us simply can’t go at 170% yet.

So, what to do?

Start off with proven, effective interval training plans for weight loss and fitness.  As you get fitter, you’ll be able to push harder and see even more benefits.

elliptical machines

There are 3 interval training plans for beginners below.  You can do them any way you want.  Fast walk, slow walk.  Elliptical, treadmill, spin bike.  Jogging, running.  (If you use cardio machines, don’t choose the “Interval” setting.  Choose “Manual” and control the intensity by adjusting it yourself)

Beginner Interval Workout 1: Standard Intervals

This is probably the most popular interval training workout for fat loss out there, and it’s very simple:

  • 5 min warmup at low intensity (increase slightly as you get warm and loose)
  • 1 min moderate to high intensity followed by 1 minute low intensity (repeat 5-8 times)
  • 5 min cooldown

The first time you do this, start with moderate intensity for the work intervals and only do 5 repeats.  As you progress you can either add more repeats of the mod/low cycle or else increase the intensity of the faster interval.

Beginner Interval Workout 2: Pyramid Intervals

Pyramid intervals have you starting off with shorter efforts, increasing each time.  Then you work your way back down.  Here’s an example:

  • 5 min warmup at low intensity
  • 30 seconds high intensity
  • 1 min low intensity
  • 45 seconds high intensity
  • 1 min low intensity
  • 1 min high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 90 seconds high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 1 minute high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 45 seconds high intensity
  • 1 minute low intensity
  • 30 seconds high intensity
  • 5 min cooldown

You can progress on these by pushing harder on the high intensity periods, by adding a steps to the pyramid, or by cutting down the recovery periods (example: 50 seconds instead of 60)

sprint in desert

Beginner Interval Workout 3: Sporty Intervals

This workout mimics the unpredictable nature of sports.  You use different times and different intensities.  Think of it like the sprinting and jogging in a basketball or soccer game.

  • 5 min warm up
  • 2 minutes high intensity followed by 2 minutes low intensity (repeat once)
  • 30 seconds high intensity followed by 30 seconds low intensity (repeat four times total)
  • 10 seconds very high intensity followed by 50 seconds very low intensity (repeat 5-10 times)
  • 5 min cooldown

You can “mix and match” this workout.  For example, do 2 min high intensity, 2 min low, 30 high, 30 low, 10 very high, 50 low, repeat.

Also, you can progress by adding repeats or pushing harder on the higher intensity work periods.

When To Do These Workouts

Do these workouts either after your regular resistance training sessions, later in the day (ex: weights in the morning, intervals in the evening), or on the days where you don’t lift weights.

Since resistance training is of higher value for fitness and losing weight than intervals, you don’t want to do the intervals first and tire yourself out.

More Information On Intervals

Check out these posts to learn more about interval training:

More interval training workouts: Interval Training For Extreme Fat Loss

Intervals can cut your workout time by 90%: Important News For People Who Hate Long And Boring Cardio

How to make sure you aren’t sabotaging your interval training sessions: What To Do During “Rest” Periods

Interval training, tempo training, and steady-state training are all covered here: Effective Cardio Training

Simple interval workout for joggers and 5k runners: Improve Your Race Times By Running Less

Which training method will increase your heart power?: Endurance vs Intervals (Study)

spinning class intervals

Study Corner: Endurance Vs. Intervals, Effect On Anaerobic Capacity

Exercise, Interval Training, Study 1 Comment »

According to Wikipedia:

Anaerobic exercise is exercise intense enough to trigger anaerobic metabolism. It is used by athletes in non-endurance sports to promote strength, speed and power and by body builders to build muscle mass. Muscles energy systems trained using anaerobic exercise develop differently compared to aerobic exercise, leading to greater performance in short duration, high intensity activities, which last from mere seconds up to about 2 minutes. Any activity after about two minutes will have a large aerobic metabolic component.

A study from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Japan compared the effects of 6 weeks of traditional aerobics training to high intensity interval training.

The aerobic group exercised at 70% of their maximal aerobic uptake for 60 minutes 5 days a week during the study. At the end of 6 weeks the endurance group did not increase their anaerobic capacity and only increased their aerobic capacity slightly (from 53 to 58 ml/kg/min).

The interval training group also exercised 5 days a week during the 6 week trial. Their workouts consisted of 7-8 sets of 20 second sprints, followed by a 10 second recovery. After the 6 weeks, this group increased their aerobic capacity slightly MORE than the aerobics group (7ml/kg/min increase for the sprint group compared to 6ml/kg/min for the aerobics group). The interval training crew also increased their anaerobic capacity by 28%!

Let’s compare total exercise time for the two groups over the six week study:

6 weeks x 5days/week x 60 minutes = 1800 minutes

6 weeks x 5 days/week x 4 minutes = 120 minutes

So… in less than one tenth the time, the interval group beat the aerobic group in both aerobic and anaerobic improvement!

Hooray science!

If you’re interested in checking out this study, here’s the citation:

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Oct;28(10):1327-30.
Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max.
Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, Hirai Y, Ogita F, Miyachi M, Yamamoto K.

And here’s a link to the abstract: Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max

Study Corner: Metabolic Adaptations In Low Volume Sprints Vs. High Volume Endurance

Exercise, Interval Training, Study No Comments »

Ok, today’s scien-tastic study will really appeal to you if you’re pressed for time to work out.  (And who isn’t?!?)

Researchers from McMaster University in Canada compared low volume sprint (interval) training to high volume aerobic (endurance) training.

Without bogging down in too many details (I’ll link to the study at the bottom of this post), the aerobics group worked out at 65% of their maximal oxygen uptake for 40-60 minutes, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks.

The interval training group did 4-6 “all out” 30 second sprints with 4.5 minutes rest between sprints, 3 days a week, for 6 weeks.

Total training time for the aerobic group was 4.5 hours per week.  Total for the interval training group was 1.5 hours per week (with 90% of that time being rest!!).

After the six weeks both groups showed the SAME metabolic changes!

Now, I would have expected the interval training group to be burning more fat, but even though the results were the same, look at the total training time!  90 minutes a week of interval training gave the same fat loss benefits as 270 minutes of aerobics training!

That’s pretty freakin’ cool :)

So, if you want to save time in the gym, start hitting some intervals.  Here’s a step-by-step plan to get you started: Interval Training For Fat Loss

Here’s the citation for today’s study:

J Physiol. 2008 January 1; 586(Pt 1): 151–160.
Published online 2007 November 8.
Similar metabolic adaptations during exercise after low volume sprint interval and traditional endurance training in humans
Kirsten A Burgomaster,1 Krista R Howarth,1 Stuart M Phillips,1 Mark Rakobowchuk,1 Maureen J MacDonald,1 Sean L McGee,2 and Martin J Gibala1

And here’s a link to the abstract: Similar metabolic adaptations during exercise after low volume sprint interval and traditional endurance training in humans

Train Like A Gladiator!

Exercise, Interval Training, Weight Loss No Comments »

A few of my friends on facebook have posted a question like this: “How can I get an action hero body?”

Now, Hollywood action stars have a few advantages: they all have a personal trainer, they can get someone to cook healthy meals for them, and they have lighting technicians making sure they always look their best.

But you can totally steal their workout and do it on your own.

Have you seen “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” on TV?  I’ve caught a few episodes – pretty cool.

And the stars definitely have that “action hero” look:

Here’s a video of the Spartacus stars working out:

(Don’t copy their kettlebell form! Everything else is all good :) )

The Spartacus workout above was written by Rachel Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, CA.

Here’s the complete program:

60 seconds work / 15 seconds rest

1. Goblet Squat
2. Mountain Climber
3. One Arm Dumbbell Swing
4. T-Pushup
5. Jump Lunges
6. Dumbbell Bent Over Row
7. Dumbbell Side Lunge and Touch
8. Dumbbell Renegade Row
9. Dumbbell Lunge with Rotation
10. Dumbbell Push Press

Total Time: 12:30.

Rest 2 minutes and repeat.

Total Work Time: 27 minutes!

After trying one of my bootcamp workouts, you’ll know that a circuit like this are no joke.

By working every muscle in your body, you not only strengthen and shape, you get a whole body cardiovascular workout… at the same time!

If your idea of “cardio” is running on a treadmill or playing on an elliptical machine, you’ll find that a workout like this is really fun, really intense, and more effective at building an Action Hero Body than anything else.

Talk to you soon,

~ Luke Wold
291 Rhodes St
Carson City NV 89703

Inside Luke’s Head: Hacking Your Workout For Faster Results

Bootcamp, Exercise, Interval Training, Strategies, Weight Loss 4 Comments »

When I walked up into the weight room someone’s Dad was in there “working out.”

He gave me a sheepish look when I told him the upstairs of the gym is reserved for private clients.  But since he’d already started I said to go ahead and finish.

After a quick warm-up I hit this circuit 6 times: Kettlebell snatch x6 each arm, ValSlide Reverse Lunge x 10 each leg, and Weighted Chin Ups x 5, repeat with no rest.

Then a quick sip of water and my second circuit was 3 rounds of: ValSlide Double Reach-Out x 10, Handstand Push Up x 3, and Bodyweight Row x 12.

It took me about 25 minutes.

In that same 25 minutes this guy did 5 sets of Dumbbell Curls.  Seriously.

Unfortunately, spending more time in the gym than you need to is super-common, and I think that’s why people whine that they have no time to work out.

Now, today I’m going to drop 2 studies showing that not only will high-intensity circuits get you out of the weight room faster, they’ll also give you BETTER results.

(Of course, you could spend the same hour in the gym training with this style and get more done in those 60 minutes than the standard gym-goer does in 2 weeks of screwing around.  I think that’s freaking cool!)

This is the first study:

Kelleher et al. The Metabolic Costs of Reciprocal Supersets vs. Traditional Resistance Exercise in Young Recreationally Active Adults. JSCR 2010 Mar 17.

Kelleher et al examined the difference between traditional “straight set” resistance training to “reciprocal superset” training.

Here’s two quick definitions for you:

STRAIGHT SET: Standard resistance training protocol – One set of presses, rest.  Set of presses, rest.  Repeat until all sets are done.

RECIPROCAL SUPERSET: Pairing opposite movements – Set of presses, quick rest, set of rows, quick rest.  Not only do you actually get the same amount of rest between presses, you get twice as much work done in the same time.  And thanks to a principle called “reciprocal innervation” you will actually be able to handle more weight in the paired exercises.

The researchers above concluded: “Reciprocal supersets produced greater exercise kJ.min, blood lactate, and EPOC than did [traditional straight sets]. Incorporating this method of resistance exercise may benefit exercisers attempting to increase energy expenditure and have a fixed exercise volume with limited exercise time available.”

In plain speak: You will raise your metabolism and make greater changes in your body IN LESS TIME with reciprocal supersets than with straight sets.

INSIDE LUKE’S HEAD: How can I create reciprocal supersets in all of my workouts?

The second study:

Paoli et al. Effects of three distinct protocols of fitness training on body composition, strength and blood lactate. JSMPF. 2010 Mar;50(1):43-51

Paoli et al compared 3 different training methods: cardio-only, low-intensity circuit, and high-intensity circuit.

Out of the 3 groups, the high-intensity circuit group lost the most weight, lost the most fat, lost the most off their waist measurement, raised their metabolism the most, and gained the most strength.

Here’s an excerpt from their conclusion: “The results obtained favored the conclusion that high-intensity exercise combined with endurance training in the circuit training technique is more effective than endurance training alone or low intensity circuit training in improving body composition, blood lactate, moreover high intensity circuit training results in significantly greater strength increase compared to traditional circuit training”

So… high-intensity circuits kick ass compared to low-intensity circuits and totally blow traditional cardio out of the water.

INSIDE LUKE’S HEAD (con’t from above): How can I put reciprocal supersets into high-intensity circuits?

When the chips are all on the table and changing your body really counts, forget traditional weight training and endurance-style cardio – use high intensity resistance training circuits instead.

Putting It All Together

Resistance training includes bodyweight exercises.  Build your workouts around bodyweight and loaded exercises either paired or put into circuits, combine them with interval training, and clean up your diet and you’ll have a totally slamming body in wayyy less time.

I design all of the circuits for my personal training and bootcamp members – all you have to do is show up and push hard.  If you’re not in bootcamp (why not?) start tweaking your workouts with these two ideas and you’ll finally start to see some results from your time in the gym!

Effective Cardio Training

Exercise, Interval Training No Comments »

Whether you’re training for fat loss or athletic performance, cardio training is an important part of your plan.

If you only have time for a few cardio workouts per week, 15 to 30 minutes of steady state training on an elliptical machine at an intensity easy enough that you can read a magazine isn’t going to cut it.

The fewer workouts you do, the higher quality each needs to be.

Here are three types of cardio training, and below is a sample cardio training program.

Cardio Training Method One: Long, Slow Distance Workout

What is long, slow distance (also called LSD training)?

These are long, continuous aerobic workouts at a low intensity that lets you cover a lot of distance.

LSD training causes a lot of adaptations that will increase your aerobic fitness. Chief among these are an increase in the number of your red blood cells and hemoglobin.

The hemoglobin in your red blood cells transports oxygen through your blood vessels, the more red blood cells and hemoglobin you have, the more oxygen you can deliver to your muscles and organs.

Long slow distance training also cause you to store more glycogen in your muscles, create more capillary vessels (for a more rapid diffusion of oxygen into your muscles), and increases mitochondrial density and the amount of aerobic enzymes within them, which improves your muscles’ aerobic capacity.

These adaptations enhance your ability to conserve carbohydrates and rely on fat as fuel.  This is great if you’re training for an endurance event such as the Tough Mudder or a marathon, but becoming more efficient at burning fat means you’ll burn LESS of it, so LSD training isn’t the best if fat loss is your number one goal.

You can do LSD training on any piece of cardio training equipment, such as an elliptical machine, stationary bike, or treadmill.  You can also run, bike, or swim.  The more muscles you use and the more weight-bearing the exercise is, the more calories you’ll burn during your workout.

Cardio Training Method Two: Tempo Workout

Tempo training is performed at your “lactate threshold.”  This is an important physiological term that “demarcates the transition between exercise that generates energy almost purely aerobically and exercise that includes energy generated from both aerobic and oxygen-independent (anaerobic) metabolism.”

Did you know that fat and carbohydrates provide energy for exercise on a sliding scale?  As you increase the intensity of exercise up to your lactate threshold, the energy you get from fat decreases and the energy you get from carbohydrates increases.  When you exercise at an intensity above your lactate threshold, you use only carbohydrates for fuel.

Why do tempo training?  Well, tempo training raises your lactate threshold to a higher percentage of your maximum heart rate, which will delay fatigue during aerobic exercise.

Since tempo training is done at the highest intensity you can maintain aerobically, they are great for burning fat.

Even though the percentage of calories burned from fat is small when exercising at (or slightly below) your lactate threshold, the total number of calories you burn per minute is much higher than you do at a lower intensity.

Studies have shown that exercising around your lactate threshold will give you the highest rate of fat oxidation (fat burning).

You can again use almost any method or piece of equipment for tempo training.

Lactate  threshold intensity is about 75-80% of your maximum heart rate if you’re new to exercising, or between 80-85% if you’re fairly fit.  If you’re not sure, split the difference and choose 80% :)

You can do tempo workouts continuously for 20 minutes, or do them as aerobic intervals, e.g., 5 minutes work with 1 minute rest, repeated 6 times.

(Note: tempo workouts for competitive athletes are slightly different.  In their case, “tempo” refers to a race pace.  So for a runner training for a marathon, tempo training might include one mile repeats at a slightly faster pace than their last race.)

Cardio Training Method Three: Interval Training

There is plenty of information about interval training on this blog, click the “Interval Training” category on the menu to the right to find out more.

A Swedish physiologist name Per-Olof Astrand found out that by breaking a set amount of work up into smaller segments (or intervals), you can perform the whole set of work at a higher intensity.

When put like that, it sounds obvious, but it is one of the most effective training methods ever described.

Interval workouts alternate high intensity work with low intensity recovery periods.

You have four variables that you can manipulate during your interval training workout:

  1. Time/distance of work period
  2. Intensity of work period
  3. Time of recovery period
  4. Number of repetitions

Why do interval training?  If your number one goal is fat loss, intervals raise your metabolism the most (you can still be burning extra calories 36 hours after your workout!).  If you’re looking to improve your aerobic fitness, intervals may be even better than LSD.

Aerobic intervals target your cardiovascular system and will increase your maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), stroke volume (volume of blood your heart pumps each beat), and cardiac output (volume of blood your heart will pump each minute).

Shorter, more intense intervals will increase your anaerobic power and capacity by improving your anaerobic metabolic pathways that don’t use oxygen to produce energy for exercise.

Since more intense intervals use your fast-twitch muscles, they will complement your resistance training workouts.

As stated above, all interval training raises your metabolism after your workout, but the more intense your intervals, the greater and longer the after exercise metabolic burn.

You can do interval workouts on any piece of cardio equipment.  For long intervals, run, cycle, or row for 3-5 minutes at 95-100%  of your maximum heart rate with your recovery periods equal to or slightly less than your work periods (e.g., 3 minutes run, 2.5 minutes walk).

For shorter intervals, go all-out for 20-60 seconds with your recovery periods two to three times as long as your work periods (e.g., sprint for 20 seconds, walk for 40 seconds).

Advanced interval training keeps the short, intense work sessions with reduced rest periods.  The most famous of these is the Tabata protocol, that uses 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest, repeated 6-8 times.  The problem with using the Tababta protocol is that most people don’t work nearly hard enough on the intervals to get the effects reported in the study.  For best results on advanced interval training, you truly need to go ALL OUT.

Time is your most precious resource.  If you don’t have time for some sort of cardio every day, but still want to improve your cardiovascular fitness and burn fat, mix and match these three methods to work all of your metabolic pathways.

 Sample Carson City Cardio Program:

To maximize the efficiency of your cardio workouts, aim for 3 QUALITY cardio workouts each week.  Make sure to include a warm up and cool down before and after your workouts.

Alternate between weeks 1 and 2, increasing the volume in each workout as you progress.

(This routine supposes that you are coming to bootcamp Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or doing some other type of training on those days.  Change the schedule to meet your particular needs)

Week 1:

Tuesday: Interval Workout

5-8 30 second sprints with one minute of active rest (walking) between each set

Thursday: Tempo Workout

15-20 minutes at lactate threshold (85% max heart rate)

Saturday: Long, Slow Distance Workout

60 minutes at 65-70% max heart rate

Week 2:

Tuesday: Interval Workout

3-5 sets of 3 minutes at 95-100% max heart rate with 2 minutes of active recovery between each

Thursday: Tempo Workout

5 sets of 5 minutes at lactate threshold (85% max heart rate) with 1 minute recovery between each

Saturday: Long, Slow Distance Workout

75 minutes at 65-70% maximum heart rate

For week three, start over with week one, upping intensity, distance, or number of sets, or reducing rest periods.

Have fun and get training!

One Mistake All Women Make…

Exercise, Interval Training, Nutrition, Weight Loss 2 Comments »

Every morning I leave my Carson City Bootcamp and I see women making this mistake on the roads and paths around my gym…..

One Mistake All Women Make

By Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Author, Turbulence Training

Following the cardio mentality and depending on the cardio
confessional is the biggest mistake that all women make when it
comes to fat loss. Let me explain…

On Saturday morning I was walking home from the gym when I passed
by a young women – about 28 years old – who was talking on her

And I heard her say, “I’m going for a walk now to get some exercise
because I’m going out for a bad dinner tonight.”

And I just wanted to yell, “No – no – no – no – no! That doesn’t
work. It never has, it never will!”

You can’t out-cardio a bad diet.

Every woman I’ve ever met has made this mistake and had that
“cardio confessional mindset” at one time or another – and it goes
for most of the guys I know, too.

Unfortunately, at best, this poor girl will probably burn an extra
300-500 calories during her walk – if it’s a really, really long
walk. But at dinner, she’s likely to eat 400-700 calories during
the appetizer or consume that in liquid calories alone!

(NOTE: By “bad dinner”, I’m guessing she meant a high-calorie meal,
and not a pity date with a deadbeat ex-boyfriend.)

The bottom line is that a single cardio session will not beat a bad

Now you might be thinking, “At least it’s better than nothing.”

But is it?

Remember, as I’ve mentioned in the past, one British study found
that some people OVEREAT in response to cardio exercise.

So when dinner comes around, this poor girl might think, “Oh, I did
that long walk today, so I can treat myself to a bigger dinner or

The only thing that comes close to beating a bad diet is interval
training and resistance training.

Back in 2007, an Australian research study on interval training was
getting a LOT of press for the surprising results. In the study,
women who did interval training were able to lose belly fat without
changing their diet.

In fact, one subject, named Louise, said this:

“My diet was pretty bad back then, with lots of sweets, lots of
junk food…doughnuts and sugar — it was awful.”

And yet by the end of this study, interval training helped Louise
burn 8kg of fat in just 15 weeks – WITHOUT changing her diet.

Perhaps it IS POSSIBLE for you to out-train a bad diet – but only
if you use interval training.

And that’s just another reason the best short, burst fat burning
workouts are based on this specific type of fat burning exercise.

So here’s what you need to do:

1) Give up the “Cardio Confessional Mentality” and understand that
you can’t “out-cardio a bad diet”.

2) Stick to your simple lifestyle nutrition plan 90% of the time
and then enjoy your 10% reward meals GUILT-FREE.

3) Use interval training to burn the fat and resistance training to
sculpt your body.

It’s that simple – a 3-step system for fat loss success that is
guaranteed to work every time.

Here’s the program that shows you EXACTLY what to do:

=> Check Out Turbulence Training

Enjoy guilt-free eating and fat loss with this mindset.

Interval Training For Extreme Fat Loss

Exercise, Interval Training 4 Comments »

If you go to the gym right now, you’ll see hundreds of people working on their New Year’s Resolution to lose weight.  And almost all of them are doing the exact same thing: 45 minutes in their “fat loss zone.”

Research and experience has proven time and again that interval training is superior to steady state training when it comes to fitness, health, and fat loss.  The problem is that most people don’t know how to set up an interval-based session.

Here is a handout from my last seminar, with an EXACT plan of what to do.  This can be recycled every month (with week one having a higher intensity each time).

Do this on the “off days” from your metabolic resistance training sessions.

Interval Training For Extreme Fat Loss

This program is designed to raise your metabolism so that you will liberate and shed as much body fat as possible.  Do this routine 2, 3, or 4x a week and choose a different piece of cardio equipment each time.

Week 1:

5 Minute Warm Up

Intervals: 3x through this set

1 min high intensity (9/10 effort)

2 min moderate intensity (6/10)

5 min Very Low Intensity (2-3/10)

20 min moderate intensity (5-6/10)

3 min cool down

Total time: 42 minutes

Week 2:

5 min warm up

Intervals: 4x through this set

1 min high intensity (9/10 effort)

2 min moderate intensity (6/10)

5 min very low intensity (2-3/10)

20 min moderate intensity

3 min cool down

Total time: 45 min


Week 3:

5 min warm up

Intervals: 5x through this set

1 min high intensity (9/10 effort)

2 min moderate intensity (6/10)

5 min very low intensity (2-3/10)

20 min moderate intensity (5-6/10

3 min cool down

      Total time: 48 min


Week 4:

5 min warm up

Intervals: 6x through this set

1 min high intensity (9/10 effort)

2 min moderate intensity (6/10)

5 min very low intensity (2-3/10)

20 min moderate intensity (5-6/10

3 min cool down

Total time: 51 min

Expert Interview – How To Get Ripped Abs

Exercise, Interval Training, Strategies 6 Comments »

An interview with John Alvino of How to get Ripped Abs.

john alvino

Luke Wold: Hey John, I consider you a “real world” guy – in that you work with real people with busy lives and hectic schedules. We all know that there is a ton of fat loss advice for pre-contest bodybuilders (fasted cardio, two-a-day sessions, egg whites and steamed fish 6 times a day…).

And we also know that there’s good advice out there for the overweight guys who have never exercised before (like don’t eat Oreos, and take the stairs instead of the elevator…).

flat stomach 2

But what about the “in between” person? You know, the professional man or woman who works a solid 9-5 job with maybe up to an hour commute each way, and still tries to spend time with the family and kids. There’s a serious lack of information for this demographic. How do you set up a solid “real world” fat loss nutrition plan for these people?

JA: I couldn’t agree with you more. Earlier in my career, I would tell this type of client that they had to eat a broccoli and alfalfa sprouts omelet for breakfast every single day! When they told me that they didn’t have the time to prepare that, I would accuse them of not being committed.

Looking back on it now, I realize that as a young trainer, I had no idea how difficult it is to work a stressful job, raise a family, and still summon up enough energy to even get to the gym.

It wasn’t too long before I realized that my expectations were unreasonable, unnecessary, and unrealistic for them to stick to. Thus, I had to be creative enough to devise meal plans that would deliver results while being realistic and easy enough for this busy folks to actually follow.

chaloux stomach muscles

After years of trial and error, I have found several ways to accomplish this goal. For starters, these clients have a tough time following a diet that has very precise parameters.

For instance, instructions such as: “eat exactly 3.35 ounces of salmon with 1 ¾ cups of broccoli at exactly 10:25 a.m. each morning”, or “You must prepare and eat 7 meals per day.” Their lives are simply too stressful and busy to be this rigid. They need more flexibility in their diet protocol.

Trying to force this “all or nothing” approach onto a person such as this will more often than not result in total failure. After your client realizes that he can’t follow the plan, he will fall off the wagon and feel completely defeated.

This may discourage him from ever trying to lose fat again. And it is just unnecessary. A successful diet, first and foremost, must actually be feasible. If it’s not, it doesn’t matter how great it is, because it will most surely fail.

To make an eating plan realistic for a busy businessman or woman, I would suggest that they eat 3 meals per day. Most people eat breakfast, lunch and dinner anyway, so this would not be disruptive to their extremely busy day. In between these “regular” meals, I would suggest eating 2-3 convenient snacks.


LW: What about training? Doing six or seven days a week, or multiple sessions for these people is just fantasy land. What about some real world workouts? I’ll give you an example – a 40 year old father of two – with a full time job (40 plus hours per week) who is maybe 19-20% body fat but wants to see his abs for the first time this summer?

JA: In my experience, when someone has a restricted schedule like this, I am usually only able to meet with them around train 3 times per week. So it is imperative that we get the most out of each training session. The most important goal for each of these training sessions is to create a metabolic elevation that will last up until the next training session.

Let’s assume that he would be using a Monday, Wednesday, Friday training schedule. Our goal is to perform a workout that increases metabolic rate for 48 hours. In order to accomplish this, we must work all major muscle groups – so that means full body training routines.

These full body routines should emphasize exercises that have a high metabolic cost. In addition, this routine should be designed using a multi-station approach.


Because there is a time constraint, you will spend very little time resting in between sets. Therefore, exercises performed back to back should not interfere with each other. In other words, consecutive exercises should not fatigue the same exact muscle groups.

Immediately following the resistance phase of this routine, he would perform a special type of interval training. For the actual interval, you will work hard (about 90% of your max) for 30 seconds. Then decrease the intensity to about 60% of your max for 60 seconds. That is one interval.

After the 60 second “easy” period, increase the intensity back up to 90% and begin the second interval of the workout. Start with 6 intervals per workout, and build your way up to doing 12 intervals per workout. Once you can perform 12 intervals at maximal intensity, it is time to vary your workout.

Varying your workout from time to time, when done in a calculated manner, will keep your body constantly stimulated to respond positively to this type of training.

woman exercising to get ripped abs

LW: Can you give us a sample workout based on your training principles?

JA: Sure. I’ll give you’re a workout that I designed for my client JR. He fits the “busy working client” criteria perfectly. He works about 70 hours per week, has a wife and 2 kids that he spends a lot of time with. To his credit, he still manages to train hard 3 times per week. This is the workout that he just performed:

1: Dynamic Movement Phase (5 min):

Rope Jumping 3×60 seconds with 30 sec rest.

2: Joint Prep Phase (3 min):

Overhead Squat 30 seconds, Reaching Split Squat 30 seconds, Forward Flexion 30 seconds, Supine Hip Raise 30 seconds, Intermediate Plank 30 seconds

3: Resistance Phase (25 min): This is a multi station circuit. Perform 5 rounds without any rest.

1a) DB Squat Push Press Combo 5x 12,10,8,6,4

1b) Strap Chin Ups 5x 12,10,8,6,4

1c) DB Step Up 5x 12,10,8,6,4

1d) Hands Elevated A Frame Push Up 5x 12,10,8,6,4

1e) DB RDL With Shrug 5x 12,10,8,6,4

4: Interval Phase: (12 minutes)  Do 4 continuous sets

2a) Med Ball Slams 30 sec maximal effort

2b) Jumping Jacks 60 sec easy pace

2c) Rocket Jumps 30 sec maximal effort

2d) Seal Split Shuffles 60 sec easy pace

5: Static Stretch Phase: (5 minutes)

This routine has JR out of the gym in 50 minutes. And the results speak for themselves. JR has lost 22 pounds of fat in 9 short weeks and is in the best shape of his life.


LW: Nice. Any other tips for these people?

JA: There are several little things that they must do in order to succeed. Some of the keys to success are:

  • Since you are only training 3 times per week you must make each workout count.
  • You must be consistent.
  • No missed workouts.
  • Prepare food in bulk. (Most cheating stems from not having healthy food readily available).
  • Keep the house stocked with quick and accessible healthy foods and snacks.
  • During the first week of your meal plan, I encourage you to weigh/measure your food.

pauline nordin stomach muscles

For instance, if one of your meals requires 1 cup of rice, you should have a pretty good idea of what a cup of rice looks like. That way, when you are eating out, or on the road, you will be able to estimate your portions with reasonable accuracy.

LW: Thanks so much, John, for taking the time to share these great insights with us. For those of you who are interested in creating an amazing body transformation and losing fat at an incredible rate, you should definitely go to John’s website, How to get Ripped Abs

He has changed a lot of lives with his amazing fat loss techniques, and clearly he is sensitive to the working class person who is busy, but still wants and deserves to get in great shape!

JA: Thank you, Luke. It’s always a pleasure speaking with you. I look forward to next time!

~ Luke Wold

PS – Click here to check out How to get Ripped Abs


3 Amazing Fat Burning Interval Training Options

Exercise, Interval Training No Comments »

By: Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Turbulence Training

If you are looking to cut down on the amount of time you spend in
the gym without jeopardizing your fat loss goals, then including
interval training alongside your strength training program is the
only way to go.

Just imagine spending half the time in the gym – if not more – and
getting way better results. Isn’t that what you deserve?

I thought so.

And to make the notion of ditching long, slow, boring cardio even
more convincing is the fact that you will be far less susceptible
to sustaining an overuse injury with interval training.

For some of you, however, the thought of giving up your daily
cardio machine routine is too much to bear. But not to worry
because you can still use your favorite machine, but we’ll just
tweak things a bit so that you get more out of your workout in half
the time.

1) Interval Training Option #1 – Classic Intervals

For example, try incorporating intervals on the treadmill by
running hard for 30 seconds, at an 8 out of 10 intensity level,
followed by 60 seconds of light recovery at a 3 out of 10 intensity

That is one interval, and so you will repeat this process up to 6
times, while using a five minute warm-up and a 5 minute cool down.

Each week try to do more squats in the same amount of time. This
may sound easy, but trust me; it can be as difficult as you make

2) Interval Option #2 – Short Burst Squats

I personally recommend a Gymboss timer for this type of training,
but it isn’t essential.

So, for the bodyweight interval training you will do as many
bodyweight squats as you can for 20 seconds and then hold the
bottom position for 10 seconds, then repeat your squats for 20
seconds, and then hold at the bottom for 10 etc. Repeat these
intervals for 8 rounds.

3) Interval Option # – Kettlebell Swings

If you have a kettlebell, you can do swings or kettlebell squats for
30 seconds and then walk for 30 seconds and alternate for 6-10
rounds. That’s a great way to finish a fat burning workout.

Alright, so those are just three of the countless ways in which you
can include interval training into your workouts that will burn fat
faster and help you avoid spending more time than necessary in the

Turbulence Training