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High Intensity Interval Training:

Maximize Your Calorie Burn in a 20 Minute Workout!

By Laura Draskovich

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a training idea in which low to moderate intensity intervals are alternated with high intensity intervals. HIIT can be applied to running or exercises such as squatting. HIIT is considered to be much more effective than normal cardio because the intensity is higher, and you are able to increase your aerobic and anaerobic endurance while burning more fat. HIIT has become a popular way to burn more fat, improve endurance, and build strength. This training method has been effective for many people.

HIIT improves both energy systems, aerobic (like running and jumping rope), and anaerobic (like lifting weights). Research has shown that HIIT can burn more adipose tissue than low intensity exercise—up to 50% more efficiently. It has been also shown to speed up your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories throughout the day. This is beneficial as you work towards your fitness goals, even at rest!

How to design your HIIT workout:

  1. Choose 6-12 exercises of varying difficulty which align with your goal (cardio, strength, or both).
  2. Warm up/Cool down/Stretch after your workout. Always.
  3. Beginners, work your way to up to increasing intensity.
  4. Perform each exercise 30-45 seconds followed by 10-20 seconds of recovery.

HIIT can be used with a few different goals in mind. To name a few, lose fat, improve cardiovascular endurance, increase strength, and build muscular endurance. But how does it compare to other training methods? Research suggests that HIIT is more effective than regular cardio, as I stated before. When you do a cardio session at the same pace the whole time (elliptical, jogging), your body goes into what is called “steady state.” This means that your body has adjusted to the speed you are going and tries to conserve energy (calories). You will be able to avoid this, and burn more calories and fat by interval training. A study at Laval University in Quebec, Canada found that HIIT cardio helped trainees lose nine times more fat than those who trained the traditional way, (moderate speed for 20-60 minutes).

The basic idea idea behind utilizing this interval training method is to alternate a maximum-effort activity with a recovery period consisting of lighter work. The following is a sample HIIT workout:

Repeat HIIT sequence two to three (sets) times through. Rest 10-20 seconds between exercises, 30-60 seconds between sets. Modify for low impact. IMG_9729

  1. Jumping Jacks-45 seconds
  2. Mt. Climbers-45 seconds
  3. Skipping Rope-45 seconds
  4. Fast Squats-45 seconds
  5. Burpees-45 seconds
  6. Low to High Plank alternating-30 seconds

HIIT can invigorate any fitness routine. If you’re bored with your daily workout and aren’t getting the results that you want, HIIT could very well be the answer. Still not convinced? Here is a list of benefits to clear up any skepticism:

  • It’s effective-science backed.
  • Its efficient-ideal for a busy schedule. In a 2011 study presented by the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting, just 2 weeks of HIIT improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6-8 weeks of endurance training. Not only do you burn more calories during an HIIT workout, but the effect of that intense exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into hyperdrive. That means you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after doing a HIIT workout than you do after, say a steady-state pace run.
  • You’ll build a better heart. Extreme training builds extreme results. One study in 2006 found that after 8 weeks of HIIT, subjects could bicycle twice as long as they could before, while maintaining the same pace.
  • No Equipment necessary! Body weight exercises like running, push ups, jumping jacks, high knees, planks, lunges,  or anything plyometric work very well at getting your heart rate up.
  • You’ll increase your metabolism. HIIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone, HGH, by up to 450% during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. This is great news, since HGH is not only responsible for increasing caloric burn, but also slows down the aging process!
  • You can do it anywhere. Since it’s such a simple concept, you can adapt it to whatever time and space constraints you have.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an effective and efficient way to burn fat, improve endurance, and build strength. It’s a training concept that you can adapt to any fitness level, and can be done at home, outside, while traveling, as well as in your fitness center. As a personal trainer, I have used this method myself over the years as well as with clients to obtain results quickly. When incorporated with a resistance training program, body composition will change even more quickly if you are looking to drop weight and tone up/build strength. If you think you may have hit a plateau in your fitness program, I recommend this method. HIIT may be just that spark to ignite your next-level progress.

Until next time, Keep Living the Fit Life!

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