I know what you’re thinking.. That sounds awfully familiar to a sales pitch for an exercise dvd set you see being sold in infomercials between 2-4am.
Hear me out though – I promise you this stuff is pretty amazing. …This stuff I am talking about – HIIT (short for High intensity Interval Training).
You may have heard about this type of training in the past – and for good reason. Recent research shows that HIIT really is THE most effective fat burning exercise on the planet.
But, what is it?
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Boring definition: HIIT is an exercise methodology alternating periods of highly intense anaerobic exercise with short rest periods. These short, intense workouts improve endurance, glucose metabolism, and overall fat burning in athletes and non-athletes alike.
My definition: HIIT workouts alternate periods of all out, intense, move your ass like a bear is chasing you exercise, followed by short rest periods that end way too fast before repeating another high intensity interval once again. These repeated patterns of intense exercise + rest make up a 10-30 minute HIIT workout.
More vigorous and intense exercise causes certain metabolic processes that improve fat oxidation (the body’s ability to burn fat).
Although completing these workouts (correctly) will absolutely rock your world due to the high intensity, they are super effective for losing more fat in less time. So.. if you’re like me and you don’t want to waste time – they are worth it.
Need more reasons to start doing HIIT?
Here are the top reasons why I recommend HIIT training to everybody and their Mama.
● The workouts are short (more results, less time)
● Portable (done in hotel rooms, sidewalks, in your living room)
● Increase metabolism (during and for brief periods after the workout)
● Burn more calories in less time than steady state cardio (jogging)
● Preserve lean muscle (lose fat, not muscle, look like a sprinter)
Aside from being convenient and helping you look fantastic, let’s quickly dive into the science of why HIIT makes more sense for busy people trying to lose fat.
Studies like this one and this one clearly demonstrate a few scientific benefits of HIIT:
● Adaptations In Skeletal Muscle: More vigorous and intense exercise causes certain metabolic processes that improve fat oxidation (the body’s ability to burn fat). Although it is still unclear if these skeletal muscle adaptations are permanent or need to be maintained through consistent training, it proves HIIT is beneficial in speeding up fat oxidation and glucose metabolism (meaning more fat loss).
● Increased Insulin Sensitivity: Insulin is a storage hormone. When we eat food, the glucose from carbohydrates is converted into glycogen and used as the body’s primary energy source. However, the body’s glycogen stores can only hold so much. Excess glucose from these glycogen stores is taken by insulin and stored as fat. Having a high insulin sensitivity helps prevent fat storage of glucose when carbs are consumed after a workout. Increased insulin sensitivity = post workout carbs being used as fuel for the muscles instead of being stored as fat.
Who Should be Doing HIIT?
● Great for those who are already fit: HIIT (like Tabata) is great for those who are already somewhat fit (exercising 2-3 hours per week). I use HIIT workouts to help clients lose stubborn belly fat or taking someone from 12% body fat to a ripped 6%. When done in conjunction with proper nutrition (calorie / macro counting, eating real food) and weight training, HIIT can be the holy grail of fat loss.
● Get the fundamentals down before diving in: Furthermore, if you are currently not active or have a LOT of weight to lose (+50 lbs.) your main focus should be nutrition, a beginner weight lifting program, and slower cardio (like biking or jogging). High impact and intense exercise like HIIT can potentially leave room for injury, further inhibiting your fat loss goals. Uncool.
● Must be intense!: Lastly, HIIT must be intense or you are wasting your time. In order to force the body to adapt and burn more fat, those short periods of exercise must be done at your absolute highest intensity.
High Intensity Interval Training Conclusion
● When done correctly, HIIT is an effective workout strategy for burning more fat in less time while hanging onto muscle.
● HIIT workouts can be done anywhere, making them even more enticing for the busy parent or business traveler. Just take your kettlebell to the park or back yard and bust out a workout.
● Studies on HIIT have shown improvements in skeletal muscle and hormonal adaptations, which enhance the body’s fat burning processes.
● To avoid injury, HIIT workouts should not be performed by those who are currently not active or have lots of weight (50+ lbs.) to lose.
If you have any questions about HIIT and if it’s the right fit for you leave your questions in the comments below.