Faster, Harder, Better: Training with Your Own Body Weight

by René Franz

Are you in need of a change, looking for new challenges and want to really boost your fat-burning? Then high-intensity interval training with your own body weight is perfect for you! As the name suggests, high-intensity interval training consists of short peak loads followed by even shorter rest periods. The ratio between effort and recovery is usually 2:1. One example of high-intensity interval training is Tabata training, which was originally developed in Japan. The workout is composed of rounds consisting of 20 seconds of strenuous physical activity followed by 10 seconds of rest. You do eight rounds, or four minutes, and then you get a one-minute rest period before beginning the next four-minute cycle. In total, you do up to eight of these cycles in a row. Of course, you can adapt the intervals to suit you, for example, by doing 30 seconds of effort followed by 15 seconds of rest.

Just don’t forget to warm up briefly before starting! The workout should last a total of 30-40 minutes – it may not sound like much at first, which is probably good, because although the first few minutes will surely feel easy, the workout will continue to increase in intensity and get harder as it goes.  But you have a doable goal in mind, and you have to give it everything you got in this short period of time!

Shot of a young man and woman working out

Why is this workout so effective?
High-intensity interval training is the best workout for burning fat! The metabolism in your individual muscle cells remains elevated for up to 48 hours after the workout. This effect, known as the afterburn effect, is what makes this workout so effective. The new training stimuli push your body and can help you overcome a performance plateau.
Additionally, it improves your basic speed and stamina, which can often prove handy in your everyday life.
Since there is a nearly infinite number of ways to vary your training, there is little chance of you getting bored. Plus, you can do the workouts anytime and anywhere you like. For instance, if you want to get a full-body workout, you could do the following four exercises in order: jumping jacks – rest – sit-ups – rest – burpees – rest – lunges, and then start over again from the beginning. And the best thing about this workout is that all you need is your own body weight! You don’t need any barbells or kettlebells. Also, if you want to increase the fun factor, try working out together with a friend or partner.

How often should I work out?
High-intensity interval training is very demanding: It pushes you to your limits, which is why you need to give your body time to recover. That is why I recommend doing it twice a week, in combination with other moderate training sessions. The main thing is that this training is only for healthy people. I would suggest getting a check-up from a doctor before engaging in high-intensity interval training.

Muesli with nuts and banana

What should I eat before and after my workout?
Of course, the right diet plays a big role in your training. Don’t work out on an empty stomach, because otherwise you run the risk of breaking down muscle tissue. Your last (light and easily digestible) meal should be eaten about 3-4 hours before your workout, and consist of carbohydrates and high-quality protein. For example, you could eat a piece of lean meat or fish with rice, potatoes or pasta and vegetables. Try to keep the meal as low-fat and stomach-friendly as possible. If you don’t give yourself enough time after the meal, or it is too fatty, you run the risk of indigestion or nausea. If you ate your last meal more than four hours ago, I recommend eating a small and easily digestible snack about one or one and a half hours before your workout. This snack should also consist of carbohydrates and protein and contain as little fat as possible. Good foods for this are yoghurt with fruit, curd cream, yoghurt drinks or berry buttermilk. Remember to drink enough water during and after your training session, preferably tap water or still mineral water. After a long workout, you can also drink an electrolyte drink. Easily digestible protein in the form of yoghurt, curd, buttermilk or whey protein shakes help you replenish your muscles afterwards. To get the most from the afterburn effect, you should consume high-carbohydrate foods about one after your workout.

So, if you happen to be looking for a great “fat blaster” workout, need some variety, would like to push yourself and want to achieve amazing results as quickly as possible, then you should start doing high-intensity interval training! Let´s get strong and burn some fat!

About the author:

René Franz

René Franz is a dietitian at IMSB Austria – High Performance Center (The Institute for Sports Medicine and Science). The IMSB was founded in 1982 to provide Austria’s top athletes with sports science and medicine support through interdisciplinary cooperation.


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