Are you looking for a way to burn more calories in a small amount of time? Many of us have busy schedules therefore making it impossible to get an hour workout in at the gym. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) offers a fantastic alternative. You can cut down your hour to a mere 20 minutes and still burn hundreds of calories while shedding fat and building muscle.
So what is HIIT exactly?
HIIT consists of short, intense bursts of exercise with either active recovery (like less intense exercise) or complete rest in between. Cardio workouts and strength routines both qualify—they can both get your heart pumping and fire up your metabolism thanks to the phenomenon known as after-burn.
You can get a super effective workout in 20 minutes or less—even in as few as 4 minutes if you do Tabata-style training (20 seconds hard, 10 seconds easy).
Instead of long hours on the treadmill or long boring runs, HIIT is the best cardio to burn fat. Exercise physiologists used to believe that “steady state” cardio was superior for fat loss because relatively more fat is used by the body as fuel at lower exercise intensities than at higher intensities.
The “Fat Burning Zone” shown on most cardio equipment as only 60-65 percent of max heart rate is really a myth and is not optimal for burning fat. Yes, you burn more fat relative to glycogen when going for a walk, but what we care about is total fat burn.
At higher intensities, you are burning far more fat, even though the fat/glycogen ratio is lower. In addition, interval training allows you to exercise at very high intensities for a much longer period of time than steady state, so you burn more fat.
As an added bonus, there’s also the after-burn effect as mentioned earlier. This is known as EPOC (excess-post exercise oxygen consumption). You increase your metabolism and burn more calories for up to 24 hours after interval training, whereas going for a jog burns almost zero calories after.
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.
The great aspect of HIIT is that you have the ability to make up your own workouts. Or if that seems a bit too challenging or confusing log onto to www.womenshealthmag.com for a list of pre-set workouts.
But if you’ve got five minutes, because that’s all you need to tackle this total body workout created by Women’s Health senior fitness editor Jen Ator, C.S.C.S., author of the new book Shape-Up Shortcuts, try this one: (please consult your physician prior to engaging in any new form of exercise)
You’ll do five moves in five minutes with ten seconds of rest between each exercise (so, fifty seconds on, ten seconds off). It’ll get your heart racing hard and your muscles really working—in almost no time at all. All you’ll need is a step-up box, a few risers, and a little motivation.
Here are the moves:
1) Reverse Lunge
2) Fast Feet
3) Squat Thrust with Hand Walk
4) Hand Walk with Offset Pushup
5) Lateral Shuffle
HIIT is a great alternative to any workout routine. I do caution you though to start off slow with small increments and gradually work your way up to longer bouts of exercise. Please as noted earlier, contact your healthcare provider before beginning a new workout regimen. If you have any further questions about HIIT please contact me at 478-542-0454.
Marilyn Ward is a personal fitness trainer and nutrition counselor in Richmond Hill.