When most people think of cardio, they think of long, boring jogs, or endless hours on the treadmill. I’ve got good news for you: there’s a method of cardio that takes much less time and is far superior to jogging to help you burn fat. It’s called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and this article will give you basics so you can take your body to a new fitness level.
What is HIIT?
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of exercise in which you alternate between very intense anaerobic periods and slower recovery periods for a shorter, more efficient workout. For example, sprinting for 30 seconds, then walking for 60 seconds is high intensity interval training. HIIT can be used both anaerobically (in the gym with weights) and aerobically with cardio.
What makes HIIT training so effective as a fat burner is that it produces excess post-oxygen consumption (EPOC). A study performed by Jeffrey W. King of East Tennessee State University showed that HIIT increases the resting metabolic rate for the following 24 hours i.e. the fat-burning party isn’t over once you are done with your workout- it keeps going and going and going!
Another study by M. Sanchez Pacheco found that people who performed high intensity exercises lost more fat than the people who performed low intensity exercise. Professional athletes incorporate HIIT into their workout routines because it has been proven to improve athletic performance.
Other HIIT Benefits
There are a number of great benefits to High Intensity Interval Training besides serious fat burn that include:
• Increased Aerobic Capacity – The amount of oxygen your body can use (oxygen uptake) is increased, so your overall aerobic capacity can increase faster than with low intensity endurance exercise.
• Increased Lactate Threshold – Your ability to handle increased lactic acid buildup in your muscles increases.
• Improved Insulin Sensitivity – Your muscles more readily suck in glucose, instead of the glucose going to your fat stores.
• Anabolic Effect – Some studies show that interval training combined with consuming slightly more calories than you burn creates an anabolic effect, which helps you put on muscle. The opposite occurs with steady state cardio, which for long durations is catabolic.
Sample HIIT Workout
If you are a beginner, it is recommended to only try HIIT if you can do a session of cardio for 20-30 minutes at 70-85% of your max heart rate. You can still try interval training, but at lower exercise intensity and beginners should always wear a heart rate monitor.
NOTE: Interval training should begin with a 3-5 minute warm up and end with a 3-5 minute cool down to prevent dizziness, or nausea.
Here’s a sample HIIT workout that’s simple, but effective:
- 60 seconds: High-Intensity Exercise
- 30 seconds: Rest or Low-Intensity Exercise
Repeat another 10 times. Do this 3-4 times a week.
Total time: 15 minutes