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Take a Break, Lose More Fat

Posted by Dmitriy P.

Having a break in the middle of your workout may actually help you burn more fat than exercising without stopping.

A new study in the “Journal of Applied Physiology” (aptly named, “Enhancement of Fat Metabolism by Repeated Bouts of Moderate Endurance Exercise”) compared two exercise methods—exercising continually for 60 mins vs. breaking up the same workout into two 30 min periods with a rest period in between. The research involved healthy men with an average age of 25. The men performed three separate trials:

  1. one single period of 60-min exercise followed with a 60-min recovery period
  2. two periods of 30-min exercise with a 20-min rest after the first 30-min period, along with a 60-min recovery period at the end
  3. one 60-min rest period (Control)

In-between workouts, the subjects rested by simply sitting in chairs. Surprisingly, the trial with the 20-min rest period in between showed a significant increase in (lipolysis (breakdown of fat). Although the American College of Sports Medicine recommends “moderate exercise for the duration of 45 to 60 minutes”, this study shows that this method may not be the most effective way to lose weight.

So next time you’re at the gym, don’t hesitate to take a break to chat with some friends!

Comments (2)
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Because of the increase in metabolism an individual receives after a bout of exercise, during that 20 minute break, you're at an elevated calorie burning rate. It makes sense. Thanks for posting this. Readers should take note that also: it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to go for exactly 30 minutes, rest for 20, and exercise for another 30 minutes. The principal, I would assume, would apply to exercising for 20 minutes, resting for 15, and then exercising for another 15-20 minutes. So, don't be overwhelmed with the long exercise duration!
I was surprised to read this at first because I've also heard and believed that the longer and harder you work out the more fat you'll burn, but since your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate after you exercise anyhow, this makes sense. And it explains why circuit training, where you have short breaks between exercise stations, seems to really work. It makes me feel better about my run-then-walk-then run strategy when I feel like I just can't run for 30 minutes straight!
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