High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Ultimate Weight Loss Workout

People are always searching for the next “great” thing when it comes to weight loss. The fact is there are many diet and weight loss gimmicks out there that may help you lose some weight initially but provide little in the way of long term weight loss. A training regimen that has been around for quite some time is called high intensity interval training, or simply HIIT. This type of training offers many benefits and advantages over other types of exercise programs, and best of all, people of all fitness levels can give it a try. HIIT can help you slim down fast, and it takes very little time out of your busy day.

High Intensity Interval Training 101

HIIT is a simple workout regimen that consists of a “rest” and “work” cycle. Each cycle is completed consecutively with no rest in between. Both the “rest” and “work” cycles are short 30 to 60 second intervals. The key is to workout at a high intensity – about 70 to 90 percent of your maximum output – during the “work” interval, and then catch your breath during the “rest” cycle. For example, jog at a slow-to-moderate pace for 30 seconds followed immediately by a 30 second sprint; then repeat the cycle.

You can use any type of aerobic exercise with HIIT. Some examples include running, rollerblading, swimming, biking, rowing, running in-place/jumping jacks, skipping rope and even with resistance training (similar to circuit training).

Benefits of HIIT

Interval training offers advantages over moderately-intense aerobic activity, which is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends. The CDC’s recommendation for adults is to exercise at a moderate pace for at least 30 minutes-a-day, five days per week – a total of 150 minutes per week. For even greater health benefits, the CDC strongly suggests your exercise for five or more hours per week, or 60 minutes, five days per week. Compared to this time-consuming exercise regimen, HIIT is a far better choice. Here are several advantages of interval training:

  • Each workout only takes an average of 20 minutes
  • Research has shown HIIT directly targets fat and burns it for energy; moderate exercise does not
  • Flexible workout regimen that allows you to choose the type of aerobic activity you use
  • Burns more calories in less time
  • Tones muscle while providing a weight loss benefit at the same time
  • Increases your VO2 max (aerobic capacity; endurance)
  • Works fast twitch muscles for increased speed and quickness

HIIT and Fat Loss

The research on high intensity interval training has shown that it can in fact burn fat directly. This is contrary to other types of exercises that cause your body to use carbohydrates as energy instead of fat. Fat is a better source of energy compared with carbohydrates, although your body needs both. During moderate aerobic activity, such as jogging at a steady pace, your body will begin to burn fat for energy after about 60 minutes of exercise. However, HIIT promotes fat burning almost immediately. The vigorous nature of HIIT jumpstarts the fat burning process in your body. It also helps to skyrocket your metabolism, which leads to continued calorie burn even after your workout is done.

Sample Interval Training Program

I prefer to use the basic jogging/sprinting interval regimen, although there are slight variations I use as well. I have used the treadmill’s built-in interval training program as well as running outdoors. You can also run in-place if you do not have access to a treadmill. I’ve used all three of these techniques, and they are all effective.

As a beginner, you’ll want to exercise at a slightly lower intensity at first. After warming-up for about 5 minutes by stretching and jogging to get the blood flowing, you can begin your HIIT program. I prefer short intervals of about 30 seconds each; you can go as high as 60 seconds, but keep in mind 60 seconds of exercise at a high intensity is very tough!

Get Started…

  1. Begin your “rest” interval by jogging for 30 seconds.
  2. Immediately transition into a sprint at about 70 percent of your maximum speed; continue for 30 seconds.
  3. Slow back down into a jogging pace for another 30 seconds, and continue the rest-and-work cycle…
  4. Do a total of 5 to 10 rest-and-work cycles; this will take just 5 to 10 minutes total.
  5. As you become more physically fit, increase your intensity during “work” intervals and slowly increase your interval times – do not exceed 60 seconds though.

Is HIIT Bad for Your Heart?

In fact, it’s the opposite – Interval training is great for heart health. High intensity interval training is used by universities and professional athletes around the world because of its cardiovascular benefits, fat burning properties and strength building. It can help to reduce your blood pressure and strengthen your heart, which happens to be the strongest and most important muscle in your body.

All that said, people with heart disease or very high blood pressure will want to consult their doctor before starting an HIIT regimen. Since HIIT causes temporary elevated blood pressure levels and increased stress on your heart, it may be too intense of an exercise for some people. If this is the case, you can still use interval training to improve your heart health, but you will have to go at a much lower intensity level – about 50 percent of your maximum output during “work” cycles.

Exercise Frequency

You can achieve weight loss by using HIIT three times per week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday is the ideal schedule. A day of rest in between sessions will ensure your body fully recovers before the next training session. As you become more physically fit; however, you can increase your workout frequency to four or five days per week.

It’s tough to find a more effective weight loss exercise program that takes about 60 minutes per WEEK and offers the benefits of high intensity interval training. Just remember, the key to achieving great results using interval training is to push yourself to work at a high intensity; slacking off will not yield results.

Happy training! If you have any questions, just post a question below.

3 Responses to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Ultimate Weight Loss Workout
  1. [...] popular and effective approach for pursuing specific exercise objectives is interval training, in which ... promotehealth.info/?p=1386
  2. Poul Nielsen

    I loved the article! I am glad HIIT methods are gaining popularity for the young and old, and fit and unfit. I agree the method you suggest is highly effective for fat loss, not to mention HIIT helps boost the number of capillaries and mitochondria in ones body!
    I do feel a strong need to mention – even without heart disease or hypertension emphasis needs to be given to safety. Sometimes an apparently healthy cardiovascular system can’t handle high intensity workloads. Some people have heart rhythm irregularities and arrhythmias and don’t even know it. One way to ensure this isn’t the case is to have an ECG/MVO2 test performed by a qualified fitness tester or see their doctor first.

  3. [...] time in half while providing the same, if not better, health benefit. This method is called high intensi... promotehealth.info/?p=1692

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