You don’t have to spend hours on the treadmill or run miles and miles at the break of dawn before work to loose weight and get healthy.  In fact, it’s possible to get fit with less time and less overall work than previously thought.  The answer is H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training).

It used to be believed that high intensity training  wasn’t effective at promoting weight loss because it caused the body to use carbohydrates, instead of stored fat, for energy.  Yet, it turns out that while high intensity training does burn the body’s carbohydrates at first, it promotes fat loss, muscle growth, and cardiovascular health more effectively than traditional aerobic exercise in the long run.

High Intensity Interval Training stimulates the production of fat burning hormones and enzymes that keep working even when the body’s at rest.  Also, since High Intensity Interval Training takes less overall energy per workout than an aerobic exercise of comparable duration, it causes less of an increase in appetite.  A smaller appetite means fewer calories consumed, and fewer calories consumed typically means a healthier body.

So what exactly is HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training exercises are comprised of short, intense intervals of work (approximately 90% max heart rate), alternated with brief periods of rest or low work (approximately 70% max heart rate).  For success, it’s important that the exercises are undertaken at max effort, for anywhere between 20 sec to 2 minutes, followed by 1-4 minutes periods of rest.  A typical HIIT session lasts from 10 to 20 minutes and is usually performed 3 to 5 days per week for best results.

HIIT can be performed doing almost any type of exercise, whether outside or on machines.  Rowing machines, elliptical trainers, stair steppers, stationary bikes, sprinting, cycling, cross country skiing – all can be adapted according to HIIT protocols.  The type of exercise dictates how long you can perform your maximum effort and how long you need to rest. Here are a few sample exercises:

Rowing machine:  10 intervals of 2 minutes max effort, followed by 1 minute of rest/light rowing.
Sprinting: 8 intervals of 20-30 sec max effort sprints, followed by 2 minutes of rest/light jogging.
Cycling: 8 intervals of 45 sec max effort sprints, followed by 1.5 minutes of rest/slow peddling.

Just remember, if you aren’t able to give your max effort, you are beginning to lose the benefits of high intensity interval training.  Try adjusting your workout by doing shorter intervals that will allow you to give your max effort.  HIIT is a great way to improve your health with a limited amount of time.  If you can, do High Intensity Interval Training outside where you can enjoy fresh air and sunshine at the same time!

Advisement: If you’ve never done high intensity exercises or it’s been awhile, ease into your HIIT program over time! Your body needs time to strengthen the ligaments, bones, and muscles that support high intensity exercise. Also, before beginning any new exercise protocol, or if you have health problems, consult your doctor first!

References:Evidence-based Exercise, Six Weeks of High-Intensity Interval Training, High Intensity Interval Training in Overweight Young Women

Originally posted 2013-01-04 21:13:00.


2 Responses

Leave a Reply