Weight Loss Exercise – The 8 Second Secret to Abdominal Weight Loss

Weight loss exercise for most effective fat reduction has been a hot topic on the airwaves recently with the release of some great new research.

Associate Professor Steve Boutcher and his team from the Fat Loss Lab at NSW Universitybest weight loss exercise have just published their latest research on best weight loss exercise. Using an innovative exercise approach, these researchers have shown great results for abdominal fat loss and decreased waist circumference measures over 12 weeks, and without dieting!

And it gets even better … the exercises were pelvic floor friendly, meaning that they are suited to women seeking to protect their pelvic floor and exercise safely.

Here’s why I have changed the way I exercise to manage my body weight based upon this research…

Weight Loss Exercise Weekly Guidelines for Fat Loss

Here are the weight loss exercise guidelines used by Dr Boutcher in his most recent study for effective weight loss and exercise1.

Important: Before commencing this or any new exercise program always ensure you have your doctor’s approval to exercise.

1. Type of exercise used – Stationary cycling

Cycling is an excellent low impact form of exercise for women and it is a pelvic floor safe form of exercise too. Cycling is supported so it takes pressure off the joints and the pelvic floor. If you are overweight it allows you to exercise intensely and helps you avoid injury.

2. How often they exercised – 3 times per week

Using this approach to weight loss and exercise ideally try to perform your exercise on alternate days. That means taking a rest day in between which may help to avoid burn out with intense exercise.

3. How hard they exercised – Alternating high and low intensity

The subjects alternated intervals of 8 seconds high intensity immediately followed by 12 seconds low intensity exercise. This is called “interval sprinting”. High intensity exercise means your rate exertion on a scale from 0 (no exertion) to 10 (maximal exertion), vigorous intensity is a rating of 7-8 out of 10. High intensity exercise involves substantial increase in exercising heart rate and increased breathing rate.

4. How long they exercised for – 20 minutes per session

Start with a 5 minute steady warm up of your choice of exercise before 20 minutes of continuous “interval sprinting” with no rest breaks.

The Weight Loss Exercise Findingsbest weight loss exercise

The research team found that after 3 months using this exercise regime, their exercising subjects measured significantly:

►Decreased abdominal, trunk and visceral (internal organs) fat;
►Decreased waist circumference;
►Increased aerobic power; and
►Increased lean muscle mass.

Why is High Intensity Best Weight Loss Exercise?

The researchers state that possible reasons for the enhanced fat loss with high intensity exercise may due to a number of factors. Basically we don’t know why interval sprinting works, we just know that it does work. Here are some potential reasons why interval sprinting is the most effective method known for weight loss and exercise:

  • Improved fat burning during exercise;
  • Increased fat burning after exercise has finished; and/or
  • Decreased appetite after exercise.

Study Implications for Best Weight Loss Exercise?

This study1 was performed on overweight men who did not change their diet throughout the study. The same exercise guidelines have been shown to be effective in women in a previous study2. This weight loss and exercise study in women found that 20 minutes of high intensity “interval sprinting” 3 times weekly resulted in significant fat loss compared with moderate intensity cycling for 40 minutes which resulted in no fat loss.

Any Potential Drawbacks? exercise weight loss

Having tried a session of this exercise for myself since reading this research, it is physically challenging – nowhere near as easy as a medium paced morning stroll in the park. Afterwards I felt great and as though I had really worked out hard. It may be difficult to perform this level of high intensity exercise on an ongoing basis and remain committed owing to the intensity of exercise. However, the overarching principle of interval sprinting with a mix of high and low intensity exercise may well be worth implementing whenever you can especially if you are poor and seeking effective weight loss through exercise.

LifeSprints Music

The music used in this study is preset with the correct timing for the high and low intensity intervals and is called LifeSprints. LifeSprints music can be purchased online here.

Summary for Best Weight Loss Exercise:

This recent research suggests that in order to lose abdominal fat, and reduce your waistline the best weight loss exercise is:

  • Stationary cycling;
  • 3 times weekly;
  • 8 seconds high intensity and 12 seconds low intensity alternating; and
  • 20 minutes total continuous exercise (plus 5 minute warm up).

These weight loss exercise research findings may be well worth implementing if you are seeking to lose abdominal weight and decrease your waist circumference. The added bonus is that this type of exercise is time efficient and pelvic floor friendly too, so it also provides an excellent exercise solution for many women.

1M. Heydari, J. Freund, and S.H. Boutcher, “The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males,” Journal of Obesity, vol. 2012, Article ID 480467, 8 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/480467
2D.J. Chisholm, J. Freund and S.H. Boutcher  “The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting levels of young women” International Journal of Obesity (2008) vol 32, no. 4, pp. 684-691.

Inside Out Book & DVDABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support. The Inside Out exercise DVD and book show women how to strengthen the pelvic floor and exercise effectively with pelvic floor safe exercises.

Comments

  1. Margaret says:

    This sounds amazing. I am recovering (11 weeks post op ) from pelvic surgery. (hysterectomy, rectocele, vaginal suspension )
    Thank You Michelle for your website ,book and DVD. It has been amazing!!! which type of exercise bike do you prefer? upright or recline?
    Thank you again! After reading your book I realized the way I was exercising was very wrong for my body.

    • Hi Margaret
      Yes I agree this research is amazing, and so helpful for women with pelvic floor issues to know that effective exercise for weight loss is possible without compromising their pelvic floor. In the studies to date Dr Boutcher and the team have examined LifeSprints using a range of equipment and different modes – stationary cycling, running, outside walking, swimming, rowing, boxing, skipping, stair walking and arm ergometry (arm cycling). All have been shown to be effective in terms of more fat loss with the alternating high and low intensity combinations. This leads me to suggest to you that both recumbent and upright cycling would be appropriate for interval sprinting weight loss exercise and protecting the pelvic floor. In terms of pelvic floor protection, it may be that recumbent cycle may be more appropriate in the months after pelvic floor surgery to minimise direct pressure onto the perineum but I would think that both types of cycling should be protective for the pelvic floor. Good luck Margaret! Would love to hear how you go – Michelle

    • Hi Margaret
      Just a quick update on this information – the study was done on an upright stationary cycle with emphasis on using the muscles on the front and back of the thigh with the push down and pull through action of the legs. This seems to be important to maximise fat burning, however my previous comment of the recumbent cycle placing less direct pressure on the pelvic floor still applies.

  2. Margaret says:

    I am going to try this and I will let you know how I do in a few weeks. I will use the recumbent bike . This website has been so important for helping me throughout my recovery. Thank You.

  3. Barbara says:

    Hi Michelle…Thanks for this article and, as always, important and helpful information for those of us who are returning to a safe exercise regimen post surgery. I am using the treadmill and the arm cycling machine thee times a week. I have never enjoyed cycling, but would try to retrain myself if cycling is better than walking on the treadmill. Can I apply these guidelines to my treadmill workout (3.2 mph/30 min) and have the same results…as you briefly mention in your reply above? I would like to skip cycling if I can adjust what I already do and like. Best, Barbara in Santa Fe, NM USA

  4. I am six months past pelvic floor surgery now. Like Margaret I had everything done. I have been walking every morning regularly. I really don’t need to loose weight as I lost 15 pounds after the surgery and am still 10 pounds lighter than before surgery, but am at a good weight now. I am going to order your DVD because I have not been doing much strength training. Does your DVD explain what type of Ball to buy? I was going to buy one, but was unsure of the size etc. Thanks,
    Debra

    • Hi Debra
      Thanks for your message. My same comments as for Maggie apply, just go gradually with it, it will take a bit of time but best in view of your surgery.

      As far as fitballs go you are the same height as me and I use a 65 cm fit ball or is this 25.5 inches in the US? So that you get the best results and it is safe for your spine, sit side on and look in a mirror when sitting on it, your hips should be slightly higher than your knees. In this position your core abdominal muscles work best as it allows you to keep the normal curve in your back.

      Also I strongly recommend you get an antiburst ball so that if it catches on something it will slowly deflate and give you time to get off it. There are many cheap exercise balls around and you can tell as when you sit on them they feel soft not firm and supportive. I usually suggest women go for the middle of the range for home exercise, avoid the really cheap fitballs, but on the other hand you probably don’t need a top of the range for home based exercises either.

      Finally when you inflate your ball, you will know you have pumped it up enough by measuring the height- I usually just put it next to a wall and measure the height this way from floor to top level with the ball. Wait a day or two and opo in a little more air as when they firtst inflate the material can be a little stiff and inflexible.

      Really hope this helps and let me know if you have anymore questions.
      Good luck!
      Michelle

  5. Regarding the exercise ball I am 5’7″ and weight 135.
    Debra

  6. Hi, Michelle…new incentive for me to use my dust-gathering recumbent bike! I’ll let you know how I do.
    Thanks for all your support.
    Maggie

    • Yes Maggie, get your bike out and dust it off :) – time to get going girl!
      Seriously Maggie just take it step by step with this high intensity exercise, it can be really quite challenging. Some of the ladies in my exercise classes are trying it, and starting at around 10 minutes. The key factor seems to be that the intensity of the exercise (walking, running, cycling…) elevates your catecholamines or fat burning hormones for a longer period of time after you finish exercise.
      Good luck and let me know how you go-I’m starting tomorrow to see if I can knock off a bit of a tummy I’ve gained with too many chocolate cappuccinos over winter. I’ll keep you posted.
      Best wishes
      Michelle
      By the way – I am not being paid to endorse anything, but the LifeSprints music in this article is great and very motivating, I see you can download 8 seond sprint music cheaper online in the US but not the same 8 seconds on 12 seconfs off as this program, and this seems to be the key

    • Oh and one more thing Maggie- hot from the researcher who did this study…Dr Steve kindly sent me some information saying that for most effective weight loss exercise, the advice is not to eat or drink sugary drinks 2 hours before you exercise-of course do drink water. Apparently most effective after overnight fasting but remember this is just a weight loss exercise recomendation and some individuals with low blood sugar problems and general health issues may not be able to do this. Just thought you might be interested in this though.

  7. Hi Michelle
    Thank you for picking up on this research so quickly – only heard about it recently on the radio. I am coming up to 6month post TAH(cervical cancer) & wanted to share how exercise has been essential to my physical, mental & emotional recovery-it helps so much with reducing fear & learning to celebrate your body again. I took your excellent book ‘Inside Out’ to a personal trainer who specialised in rehab when I was 12weeks post-op and it was the best thing I could have done. Congratulations again and I look forward to sharing this new info at my sessions this week. Regards, Kate

    • Hi Kate

      Thanks so much for your very kind message-I really appreciate your feedback, it is heartwarming to read your comment.

      Thank you so much for sharing how important exercise has been for your recovery. It is really touching and I guess gratifying personally to hear about how knowing about safe exercise has helped you physically and emotionally. I am particulalry interested in how you write about learning to celebrate your body again as I hadn’t previously recognised this kind of impact with cancer diagnosis and how exercise can improve this too.

      I hope that you go from strength to strength Kate, and thank you so much for sharing how exercise has helped you.
      My best wishes
      Michelle

  8. after 2 surgeries last year, (1st was a sacrospinous fixation that failed) then a repeat op with a permanant stitch also amputation of the cervix, last November can you advise is it safe to use the treadmill? my surgeon was not too keen on the idea, if I can walk for an hour surely I could use the treadmill? would welcome your advice, many thanks

    • Hi Pattie
      Good question – at the end of the day you need to be guided by your surgeon regarding this issue as he/she conducted your surgery and knows your pelvic floor and your repair especially in view of the failed sacrospinous fixation.

      The issue with treadmill is that the treadmill surface lacks the natural variations you will experience when walking outdoors where the surfaces vary – grass, pavers, gravel etc. In contrast the treadmill surface doesn’t vary and I do believe this is higher impact than outdoors walking for this reason. This is why physios often see cases of shin splints and other impact-associated injuries resulting from higher impact treadmill exercise. It’s far safer for pelvic floor support to get on a bike and ride where there is no impact and the pelvic floor is supported. Really hope this helps you exercise and stay well Pattie

      Best wishes
      Michelle

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I am 6 months post rectocoele repair and have been exercising as per your guidelines since 6 weeks post. I have a mountain bike set up on a trainer and have been cycling 30 mins a day about 2 to 3 times weekly and doing 4 or 5 Curves workouts most weeks since April. I have lost over 10 kg in that time. I bought the Life Sprint exercise music this morning and hubby and I both enjoyed a fantastic workout. Who would have thought 8 second sprints would have been such a great workout? A lot of fun, and 20 minutes goes quite fast. No excuses now! Thanks again Michelle and I have recommended your website and resources to lots of my friends. I will be turning 53 next month and feel more fit that ever.

    • Hi Karen
      Good for you!! Thanks so much for your message – I am so glad to hear that you are doing and feeling so well. Yes the Life Sprints workout is fantastic isn’t it ! This team at the lab have some more research coming out soon about green tea before hand too – apparently they have found results indicating that a certain type of green tea that it increases the length of time the fat burning hormones stay circulating in the body after exercise increasing the after burn resulting from the exercise, I’ll keep you posted as soon as the research is released. Meanwhile keep up your great work Karen, your story is an inspiration to all of us – thanks so much for sharing it.
      Best wishes
      Michelle

  10. Hi, sorry this q is in the wrong section but don’t know where to post. Do you know if the Jacobs Ladder machine is safe for those of us post hysterectomy and prolapse surgery?

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Patti
      I think I would avoid the Jacobs Ladder Machine if the pelvic floor is at risk, especially after prolapse surgery. I think the lean forward positions is not great for pelvic floor support or control (or for lower back support for that matter), far better to walk upright and do this briskly for pelvic floor safe option. Thanks for the interesting question!

  11. Hello Michelle,

    Thank you very much for your website & emails. I have found your information very helpful.

    I am a 53 year old lady – I had a hysterectomy for a significant prolapse together with significant repair work (including repair of rectocyle & cystocele)as a 42 year old. The prolapse occurred after the birth of my two children. I used a pessary before my surgery at the point where I was not ready (emotionally) to pursue surgery.

    I am returning to the gym mainly for cardio workouts. I intend to be very careful to follow your advice for best practice in the gym to avoid further issues with my pelvic floor.

    I have bought your book & DVD but I have not seen mention of rowing machines with respect to pelvic floor safety. I am wondering what you think about the use of rowing machines for ladies like me?

    I would be very grateful for your advice.

    Kind regards,

    Sue

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Sue

      Yes I am surprised more women don’t ask about rowing machine for pelvic floor safe exercise – I think there are a a few ways you can reduce any potential strain with rowing.

      Is rowing pelvic floor safe? To be honest I cannot find any research in relation to this issue. I think that there could be potential for pelvic floor strain with intense rowing but like many exercises this may well be avoided with care and technique. Here are some tips that may reduce the pressure associated with the pressure on the pelvic floor with rowing, but as I have stated these are not research based, just based upon my understanding of pressure within the abdomen and pelvis.

      – Use light resistance for rowing
      – If resistance is increases with increased speed, then reduce the speed of rowing
      – Maintain the inward curve in the lower back throughout the entire exercise, avoid the reach forward often suggested as the platform slides to return after pull back, rather stay tall with lower back curve maintained throughout
      – Breathe out you do pull back

      I do hope this helps Sue, I am always keen to hear back with how you go!
      Michelle

  12. Geraldine says:

    Hi,
    I’m looking for a exercise group, on the north side, that is focused on pelvic floor safe weight loss.
    I’m approx 4years post surgery.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Geraldine
      Did you see the QLD listings for pelvic floor safe exercise instructors? The Physios and instructors listed here all provide pelvic floor safe exercise services, you can make enquiries with many of them via email. Let me know if you have any difficulties.
      Michelle

  13. Hi Michelle – thanks for your very helpful website. Could you tell me how ‘difficult’ the cycling should be? If the bike has a resistance of, say, 0 (very easy) to 20 (very hard going) – what should it be set at? And does it stay the same for both the 8sec/high and 12sec/low intensity intervals? V interesting about rowing machines too – thanks. Mary

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Mary
      If your pelvic floor is at risk keep the resistance light to moderate at best so there is no straining to push the pedals. On the rest interval I often lower the intensity down to really rest towards the last 5 minutes however there is no hard and fast rule to the best of my knowledge. I try to make the next effort a really good sprint rather than a forceful push. The goal is to increase your heart rate and then keep it elevated.

      Does this help Mary?
      Michelle

  14. Marianne says:

    Dear Michelle

    I have looked for the LifeSprints music for the stationary cycling on the link provided. I can’t find it there. Any idea where I can look?

    Thanks,
    Marianne

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Marianne

      Thanks for your message I have updated the link on this post now. Hope it helps you out.

      Michelle

  15. Shirley B. says:

    Just found your website. Thank you so much for the information!
    I don’t have access to a bike, is walking beneficial for the pelvic floor?

  16. Hi Michalle,
    Thankful to your website on guiding the world, on best practice for Womens POP issues.

    Is it possible to share the info on how well the surgeries?Links to surgery latest trend/technolgy etc .
    Usually we hear on the web about
    unsuccessful cases of surgery only. Does the POP surgery is ever be successful.??Do we have any data
    on success ?

    Regards
    amitha

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Amitha

      This is a great suggestion – I will get onto this topic in coming newsletters, thanks so much for your feedback.

      Michelle

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