What if I told you that you could do 10-15 minutes of cardio and burn more calories/fat than you would from running on a treadmill for an hour? If that sounds like a God-send to you, then High Intensity Interval training may be the workout for you.
The traditional way of working out has changed completely – traditionally, when people want to tackle cardio they either hop on a treadmill, elliptical, or go running at a slow pace for a long period of time. This is referred to as steady state cardio. Yes, it is effective in losing weight and has been proven to work, but you are not maximizing your true weight loss potential when using steady state. Also, studies have shown that steady state cardio can actually lead to muscle loss as well as fat loss, slowing the metabolism by decreasing the number of calories burned.
What is HIIT?
HIIT is a form of training where you work extremely hard for short bursts of time, followed by a short rest period, typically less than 1 minute of rest between sets is protocol for HIIT. The goal of HIIT is to raise your heart rate to 70%-90% of its max multiple times. This has various benefits: working within 70-90% of your heart’s max heart rate kicks your metabolism into overdrive. This type of training leads enhanced fat loss as well as calories burned during and after the workout.
HIIT boosts your metabolism so that your body is still burning calories for approximately the next 24 hours. This is called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). You also burn around 12-16 calories per minute performing HIIT. For instance, performing 20 minutes of HIIT can burn 250 calories. In reality, you are burning much more than that due to EPOC. When you stop steady-state running after an hour and burn 250 calories your calorie burn virtually stops there.
Benefits of HIIT
One of the greatest benefits of HIIT is that it is time-efficient. You can burn the same amount of calories that you do in an hour performing steady state with just 10-20 minutes of HIIT. Instead of dreading steady state for hours on end, you could be blasting more fat away in a third of the time performing HIIT.
How can you perform HIIT?
If you think about it, you may already be doing a form of HIIT depending on how long you rest between sets at the gym. If you want to give your current lifting routine some HIIT-style, rest no longer than 60 seconds between sets. HIIT is traditionally used for cardio and is done by performing a cardio move for a short amount of time at max intensity. This could be as simple as sprinting full speed for 20 seconds, walking for 10 seconds, and repeating various times. One can perform any cardio/plyometric move for HIIT – you can even work your abs with it.
A very popular way to perform HIIT is to do Tabata. Tabata was created by Dr. Izumi Tabata to train Japan’s ice skaters more efficiently. Basically, it involves performing 8 sets of an exercise for 20 seconds at max intensity with a 10 second break in between each set. This equates to a killer fat burning workout in just 4 minutes. This was proven to burn more calories than steady state cardio for an hour as well as increase your VO2 max – how much oxygen you can use – higher, by up to 28%. Not only will you burn fat, your overall fitness will improve with consistent HIIT workouts and you will be able to perform longer too. Here are some examples of what could be the best HIIT workout for you.
✓ Sprint 100 meters and then walk 100 meters on a track.
✓ Set treadmill to 10% gradient. Run 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds
✓ Sprint up a short hill, walk or jog back down.
✓ Row 250m, rest 30 seconds.
Repeat sets for 10-15 minutes.
- Jump Squats 20 seconds
- High Knees 20 seconds
- Tuck Jump 20 seconds
- Run In Place 20 seconds
Repeat 1-4 times.
HIIT is a time-efficient form of cardio, which performed consistently can make a difference to your body and your fitness. However, check with your trainer if you are unsure. Many athletes and bodybuilders utilize HIIT, so you could too!