Lots of people trying to burn calories and fat slave away for, what seems like, forever on the treadmill or step machine. But there’s a better, more time-efficient way to burn fat and build lean muscle tissue at the same time. It’s called HIIT – short for High-Intensity Interval Training – and it can be done in a fraction of the time of steady-state cardio while providing even more fat-burning benefits.
How Does HIIT Work?
A HIIT workout typically lasts about 20 minutes and includes short bouts of high-intensity movements followed by an active rest period. The cycle is repeated after the duration of the workout is complete.
To illustrate, we’ll use treadmill sprints. A sample HIIT workout would look something like this:
- 30 seconds all-out sprinting
- 60 seconds slow walking
- Repeat 10 times for an intense and effective workout
The actual movement performed during the high-intensity bouts can be anything you choose, as long as it is intense and brings your heart rate up close to your maximum. So, you could sprint up stairs, do burpees, mountain climbers, squat jumps, or any motion that revs up your heart rate in a short period.
What Are the Benefits of HIIT?
Aside from the fact that a HIIT workout can be performed in a fraction of the time it takes to complete steady-state cardio. There are plenty of other advantages that will make you want to include this technique into your overall workout regimen.
Burn more calories. Because you’re working at a much higher intensity level, you burn more calories per minute compared to slower aerobic activities. Not only that, but your body will continue to burn calories long after the workout has been completed, up to 24 hours or longer.
Burn more fat. In addition to burning more calories, HIIT also helps you burn more body fat. Thanks to the intense exertion, your body’s repair cycle will get a significant boost. That means your body will burn off more fat in the hours following a HIIT workout compared to a steady-pace exercise, and not just the glycogen stores in your body.
Preserve muscle. If you’ve ever been on a diet, you’ve likely learned the hard way that it can be nearly impossible not to lose some muscle along with the fat. That’s why it’s important to exercise while on a diet to preserve muscle tissue. But not all exercises are created equal: studies have shown that steady-state cardio alone appears to encourage muscle loss while weight training along with HIIT workouts helps to preserve all that muscle that you work so hard to build.
Boost your metabolism. HIIT workouts stimulate the production of human growth hormone (HGH), which is integral in building muscle, cutting fat, slowing the aging process, and boosting energy levels. Through high-intensity workouts, you can spike HGH production by as much as 450%!
High-intensity interval training is certainly not for the faint of heart, but you don’t exactly have to be a professional athlete to perform it. Start off slow, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly HIIT workouts can whip you into shape!