Interval Training for Fat Loss

02nd May * 3 min read

Following on from last week’s’ article ‘HIIT vs Steady State Cardio’, this short blog will focus on how to structure Interval Training for fat loss and conditioning along with a brief explanation as to why Interval Training is slightly superior for accelerated fat loss. Last week’s article proved to be popular on social media with a number of people asking for example workouts etc.

Most Personal Trainers we engage with (and that is a lot) testify that Interval Training or SIT (Sprint Interval Training) & HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) are by far the best methods of training for fat loss and conditioning. Although steady state cardio does result in fat loss, SIT & HIIT results are quicker and more noticeable.

A recent study which was published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine supports this as it compared steady state cardio, SIT and HIIT training in terms of reducing body fat whilst maintaining muscle mass. The results were clear and demonstrated that steady state cardio did cause ‘weight loss’ but a high percentage of that weight was muscle. The study also reported that SIT and HIIT training resulted in a similar amount of ‘weight loss’ but a significant amount of that was fat and not muscle. It is important to highlight here that nutrition, training age, body composition and supplementation are all variables which could affect the results of this type of training, but as a whole, all candidates supplemented and followed a similar nutrition plan.

The main differences between SIT and HIIT training methods are intensity and volume. SIT is maximal intensity which requires a slightly longer rest and less volume. HIIT is not quite maximal intensity and therefore requires less rest but slightly more volume to achieve similar results. An example of both a SIT and HIIT training session can be found below:

  • SIT: 5 x 100 metre sprints at 100% effort followed by a 4-5 minutes’ rest between sprints.
  • HIIT: 10 x 100 metre runs at 80-90% of maximal effort followed by a 90 second rest between runs.

It’s important to distinguish the difference between HIIT and SIT because different clients require different types of training. Although the outcomes are significantly similar in terms of fat loss and muscle retention, some clients maybe more suited to SIT because of their higher training age, desire to train at maximal effort and their psychological ability to give a 100% effort during every interval. From experience, a number of clients who believe they are giving 100% and working at maximal capacity are not. In no way at all is that their fault, it is merely because they have a young training age and have not yet experienced what it feels like to work at maximum capacity, therefore the HIIT method maybe more suitable.

If your goal is fat loss and you have an excessive amount of fat to lose then I strongly advise that you include some form of cardio in your training routine, this can be either steady state cardio or HIIT. As we mentioned above, HIIT is more likely to result in greater fat loss. If you are already conditioned or have a body fat % of less than 15% for males and 22% for females and are experienced trainers, then I would include 15-20 minutes of SIT 2-3 times a week followed by a 10-minute steady state cool down which will result in the burning of fat post lipolysis. I would also recommend that if you are in a caloric deficit which more than likely you will be if your goal is fat loss, you may benefit from supplementing BCAA’s prior and intra to help preserve and protect muscle.

Below is a training protocol we discuss and deliver during Fitness HQ’s Personal Training Qualifications and it is one I have used with several clients over the years:

Activity Duration Intensity Notes
Warm – Up:

Typically, a steady pulse raiser mimicking the main activity. E.g. running

8-12 minutes

(a relatively longer warm-up due to the intensity of the main activity)

60-80% of maximum effort. Make sure the warm up is gradual and not aggressive.

Dynamic stretching all over body

1-2 sets:

10-12 seconds on each dynamic stretch


Lunges, Squats, Leg Swings, High Knees etc.

Training: 5 x 100 metre sprints Each rep / sprint should be similar in duration – little drop off. 100% Maximum Effort 4 minutes’ rest between sprints allowing maximum recovery.
Cool Down:

Typically, a steady reduction in intensity. This doesn’t need to be similar to the main activity.

8-12 minutes:

This allows the body to revert back to it’s original state but also takes advantage of the lipolysis process which occurs during high intensity training.

60% Maximum effort reducing to pre activity normal state. Lipolysis is the release of stored fat which occurs during SIT & HIIT. A prolonged cool down will help burn the fat which has been released.
Stretching: Static stretching all over body 1-2 sets of 15-30 second stretches. Emphasis developmental stretches on tighter muscles to help avoid injuries. E.g. Hamstrings 30 seconds

At FHQ we hope you enjoyed this short fitness blog and we’d appreciate any feedback on this or any of our articles.

For more information on any of our blogs or our qualifications please call us FREE on 0800 112 3431.

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