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If my goal is to burn fat, is it better to do three 15 minute workouts in a day, or one 45 minute continuous workout?

My current plan is: 15 minute jog before work, 15 minutes before lunch, and 15 minutes after work.

Thanks!

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Your question was addressed in this randomized control trial that compared the results of two test groups that worked out 5 days per week: one group did long bouts of exercise (20-40 min per day) while the other did short bouts of exercise (multiple 10 min bouts per day).

The biggest takeaway from the study was that people were more likely to train when their program is split into smaller doses, rather than one large period. As a result, people on the smaller bout group yielded better results if only because they exercised more overall.

From the study:

These results suggest that short-bouts of exercise may enhance exercise adherence. Short-bouts of exercise may also enhance weight loss and produce similar changes in cardiorespiratory fitness when compared to long-bouts of exercise. Thus, short-bouts of exercise may be preferred when prescribing exercise to obese adults.

  • That's me! I'm the obese adult! Their take-away was exactly how I was feeling. The fact that I was going in more often, made it much easier to get comfortable in the environment, and made going in much more of a routine for me. Glad to hear there's some research to back that feeling up. – Tim Dec 23 '14 at 20:33
  • +1 In addition to the fact that short bouts of exercise encourage most people to actually exercise, this also has the advantage that a lot of people would end up performing more exercises than they intended on performing. Once the initial resistance to exercising is overcome (simply by starting), a lot of people find it hard to stop the session unless they're actually tired. Talk about killing many birds (including fat) with one stone! – Kneel-Before-ZOD Dec 23 '14 at 22:34
  • Further thought: I suspect that the fact it's easier to maintain a higher intensity of workout for multiple shorter sessions will actually mean higher actual work done - plus more muscle building. I used to do a lot of interval training for the same reason - short intense bursts make you push the muscles harder and builds more endurance (and higher base metabolic rate). But that is just speculation - what you have here is more scientifically based. Personally I would find it hard to change into workout clothes three times a day - time lost would be substantial, no? – Floris Dec 24 '14 at 5:14
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This source states that aerobic exercise must be done for longer than a half hour in order to burn fat effectively.

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if we're talking strictly fat loss and considering you workout at the same intensity then it does not matter meaning you'll burn the same amount of calories along with same total amount of afterburn

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