QUESTION: Tom, do you think that the intensity of your workout is "THE THING" that gives you results or is it more about being consistent with your workouts? The reason I ask is because I'm following your Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle nutrition program and I also just got a new high-intensity workout program called the Insanity series. I like doing these workouts, but I'm having a hard time pushing myself that hard every day and I'm finding now that I'm starting to dread doing them. I have been doing these workouts only 2-3 times per week instead of the 5 times per week that is recommended in the program. This workout brings me to my knees. I've started questioning myself and wondering if it's even worth the torture. – Paul
ANSWER: Intensity is one of the most important training variables, and at times, you'll definitely want to train with high intensity to get maximum results in the shortest time.
With that in mind, let's answer the HOW MUCH INTENSITY question in the context of fat loss first.
To burn fat, focus on establishing and maintaining a calorie deficit.
To increase speed of fat loss, focus on increasing the size of the calorie deficit.
Here's where intensity comes in:
Intensity gets you there faster, if you can stick with it, but consistency ALWAYS pays in the long run when it comes to fat loss.
What about intensity in the context of fitness improvement?
It's important to know that you can get health benefits from moderate and even light exercise. But when you compare it to intense exercise, there's no contest. Higher intensity types of cardio kick low intensity's butt.
A paper just published in the ACSM's Exercise and Sport Sciences Review (July 2009) discussed the research suggesting that intense aerobic interval training provides greater benefits for the heart than low or moderate intensity exercise. <<< Watch This Amazing Video For More Information >>>
Ok, so that covers intensity in the contexts of fat burning and cardiovascular improvement. What about for building muscle?
Last but not least, I believe that weight training should sit atop the exercise hierarchy as one part of a total fitness program.
2. Weight training
3. Cardio training (low/moderate and intense)
4. Mental training (mindset and motivation)