Are you stuck in a fitness rut, exasperated by the hours you’ve spent in the gym that have yet to yield the body of your dreams?  Maximizing muscle building and fat loss have more to do with your hormone function than the number of hours logged in the gym, and if you have hit a plateau, it’s time to consider the method known as burst training.

If you are looking to make a significant change in body composition, the secret lies in training hard, and recovering harder.  Burst training offers a method of high intensity training that pushes the body to its limits only three times a week, allowing the other days of the week for optimum hormone function and fat burning while your body is at rest.  Not to mention, you still get to have a life outside of the gym!

What Is It?

Burst training is a variation of high intensity interval training that consists of three or four rounds of 30-60 second intervals of maximum intensity work, followed by two to three minutes of recovery.  Instead of spending 30 minutes to an hour on a cardio machine, burst training can be completed in a little as 12 minutes.  Burst training is a proven method to stimulate a hormonal response in your body, which is necessary for fat burning that you cannot get by performing long duration cardio.  This translates into a super efficient strategy to help your body recover quickly while burning fat and building lean muscle, allowing you to avoid over-training and make time for the things that matter in life (Axe, 2010).

How To Do It

Burst training can be done at the end of your weight training session, using the treadmill or any other cardio machine.  Simply turn up the intensity so that you are working to 80-90 percent of your maximum heart rate, and sprint for 30 - 60 seconds, until you can no longer keep up with the pace of the machine.  Lower the speed and let your body and breathing recover for two to three minutes before repeating the cycle up to three more times.  If you are short on time, burst training can be its own workout.  Simply choose one full body exercise, such as the squat-to-thrust, and follow the same pattern.  Using a challenging weight, complete as many reps of that exercise as you can in one minute.  Let your breathing recover for two to three minutes, and then repeat for up to three more rounds (Pompa, 2013).

What To Do On Your Days Off

The benefits of burst training are maximized when performed no more than three times per week.  Burst training sparks an increase in testosterone and growth hormones that circulate in your system and allow you to burn fat for up to 36 hours while your body is in recovery mode (Pompa, 2013).  To maximize your hormone function on your off days, make sure that you are getting enough sleep.  When it comes to high intensity exercise, more is not always better.  To see the most significant improvements, challenge your body to peak performance, and allow for proper rest and recovery before going at it again.  



Sarah Dalton is the founder of Able Mind Able Body, a Las Vegas based company offering motivational lifestyle coaching and personal training services.  She takes a holistic approach to healthy living, and educates others on the benefits of nutrition, exercise, and emotional health.  Visit for more info.