HIIT training has really exploded in popularity in the last few years. And with good reason. High intensity interval training works! But if you want HIIT training to work for you, you need to know how to make it part of your exercise routine.
You see, long, slow, boring cardio is not the best way to lose fat and bringing out that sexy, lean muscle you have hidden under there. Do not get me wrong, old fashioned cardio can be part of an overall program that helps you burn fat, but the “bang for your buck” is not as great as HIIT.
If you do not know what HIIT is, in its most basic form, you perform short bursts of high intensity exercise (like sprints), with brief periods of rest. For example, you might sprint the straightaway of a track and slow jog the turns and repeat for 8 or 10 “sets.”
It's not an easy way to work out, but your workouts will be shorter and you'll love the results. IF you do HIIT correctly. And this is where a lot of people run into problems with interval training.
Regular cardio does not burn nearly as many calories as most people think it does.
Want to know how many calories are burned during a marathon of 26.2 miles?
Sure, it varies from person to person based on body weight, lean muscle mass, how fast you run, etc. but on average a marathoner burns about 2,500 to 3,500 calories running one marathon.
There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. Let's say that's how many calories you would burn a marathon.
So if you eat the exact number of calories your metabolism burns off in a week all you have to do is add a marathon every week and you'll drop a pound a week!
That sounds great, does not it? There's also the small problem that a good percentage of that weight would be muscle, you would not lose just fat.
Have you seen what a marathon runner looks like? Is that the body you want? I did not think so.
And that's assuming that your calorie intake and calorie burn are equal. Most people start exercising because they've gained weight, ie, are eating more calories than they are burning off.
And let's face it, if you did run a marathon every week, we both know you'd be eating a lot more than you are right now!
So if you do not want to run a marathon or two every week AND you actually want to get results from your exercise program, what's left? HIIT Training, of course!
With interval training, you get a one two punch of calories burned DURING your workout, as well as calories burned AFTER your workout (up to 39 hours!)!
Due to the high intensity nature of HIIT training, you will see an increase in excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
What this means is that your metabolism will stay elevated for many hours after you are finished the exercise, allowing you to burn more calories even while doing nothing.
There is little to no EPOC from a low intensity session, meaning your metabolism does not rise, and you burn few, if any calories after the exercise session is over.
R. Bahr, et al., “Effect of Intensity on Exercise and Excess Post-Exercise O2 Consumption,” Metabolism 40.8 (1991): 836-841.
J. Smith, et al, “The Effects of Intensity of Exercise and Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption and Energy Expenditure in Moderately Traine Men and Women,” European Journal of Applied Physiology 67 (1993): 420-425.
Another study had individuals perform either an endurance training (ET) or interval training routine for a period of 15 weeks. The interval training group experienced 9 times as much fat loss as those performing the endurance training program.
A. Tremblay, et al., “Impact on Exercise Intensity on Body Fatness and Skeletal Muscle Metabolism,” Metabolism 43.7 (1994): 814-818
Numerous studies have shown that HIIT increases both one's aerobic and anaerobic workout capacity while endurance training just improves the former.
It has also been shown that intestinal interval training actually increases aerobic capacity to a better degree than traditional low intensity aerobics .
G. Rhodas, et al, “A Short Training Program for the Rapid Improvement of Both Aerobic and Anaerobic Metabolism,” European Journal of Applied Physiology 82.5-6 (2000): 480-486
So how do you use HIIT training effectively?
This is very important, because improper training will lead to over training, burn out, injury, a loss of muscle mass and a slow metabolism! My guess is you are not working out and eating right to get those kind of results!
Interval training is intense, and while you will improve your aerobic and endurance capacity, you also highly tax your anerobic system as well.
It's much more like a weight training workout, as far as how it affects your muscles. This means you should not do interval training workouts more than 3 or 4 times per week, you should not do them two days in a row, and these workouts should NOT be long!
Interval training focuses on quality over quantity. Forget 45 minute or 60 minute sessions. Now with this type of training you do not.
Heck, the most famous study done on interval training, by Dr. Tabata on speed skaters, involved all out work for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times. Yes, that's a FOUR MINUTE WORKOUT!
And the speed skaters all significantly improved their aerobic and anerobic capacity.
One of the other great things about HIIT is that you do not need equipment.
Sure, you can do it quite well on a stationary bike or treadmill but you can also go outside and do sprints (hill sprints rock!), Perform jump rope workouts (okay, technically that's a piece of equipment) or do bodyweight exercises, either in a circuit training routine, or just one killer exercise like burpees for a number of intervals.
And if you follow the rule above about limiting your HIIT workout sessions so you do not over train, you also will not have to worry about burning away your lean muscle mass, wreaking havoc with your metabolism and looking like a marathon runner.
Would not you rather look like a sprinter? What type of workout do you think sprinters do? That's right! HIIT training! (By the way, go to high intensity interval training to learn more and get your free fat burning guide)
Add two or three HIIT training sessions a week, along with a good quality weight training program and you're on your way to fat burning, lean muscle building success!