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High Intensity Interval Training: Your Secret Weapon

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What if I told you there was a way you could burn more fat and gain more muscle that doesn’t involve steady cardio? Gone will be the days of 45 minute jogs 5 times per week. Is it just another scheme? No, it’s a little something called High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT. Sound too good to be true? It’s not, so let’s dive in.

WHAT IS HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT)?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a workout method that became popular in the mid-1990s. Just as the name implies, it’s a type of training in which you workout in short bursts of high intensity followed by brief periods of rest. In short, it’s about going hard and fast. It’s like running a bunch of short sprints instead of a marathon. The idea is to get your heart rate up to 80 to 95 percent of its maximum rate as quickly as you can.

IS HIIT DIFFICULT?

Don’t be fooled, HIIT isn’t easy. In fact, it’s anything but. However, if you are willing to push yourself past the initial discomfort, you can see big improvements very quickly and in as little as 30 minutes a day, three times per week. Let’s hit a few of the pros and cons and then get on to explaining the actual workouts.

THE PROS

  • Greater results in less time. Depending on how hard you go, you can get by on as little as 20 minutes per day, 2 times per week.
  • Quicker muscle build. Muscle is heavier than fat, but it also burns fat. With HIIT, your muscles fire on all cylinders very quickly, so they can grow more rapidly if given time to repair themselves.
  • Quicker fat burn than steady-rate cardio. You’ll burn abdominal, trunk, and visceral fat. This will keep your organs performing at their highest level as they are free from dangerous restriction by fat.
  • You won’t have to change your diet.Studies have found that HIIT is effective independent of diet.

THE CONS

  • Longer recovery periods. Since these are heavier workouts, your body typically requires about 48 hours to rest in between sessions.
  • It’s hard! This type of training is difficult and will push you to your mental and physical limits.
  • Lower initial weight loss. You won’t necessarily lose weight rapidly because you are building muscle and muscle is heavy.

THE WORKOUTS

Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons, let’s move on to the good stuff: the HIIT workouts. The good news about High Intensity Interval Training is that you can incorporate its principles into just about any workout. We’ve compiled a short summary and description of some great HIIT workouts. Our list is by no means exhaustive, so if you’ve found a routine that works for you, feel free to go for it and don’t hesitate to chime in in the comments below. For more information on workouts 1-3, click here For workouts 4-7, click here

  1. Barbell Complexes These can be done for every part of the body. The goal is to be explosive, use full body movements, and go as fast as safely possible.
  2. Strongman Intervals Ever seen the World’s Strongest Man competition? If you’re feeling ambitious, take some time to do the same workouts the big guys do. Strongman workouts include the sled drag, yoke walk, keg load, and crucifix. Combined in the right way, these are a killer way to annihilate fat in just minutes a day.
  3. Burpees Love them or hate them, burpees are one of the easiest and most effective ways to burn fat fast without the need for extensive equipment. Try increasing the intensity and see the results.
  4. Cycling This can be done on a real road bike, or a stationary spinning machine.
  5. Tabata Squats Gotta love those squats. Keep up the intensity and feel the burn
  6. Burpee-Run Intervals Combine the two activities to get a killer workout in a short amount of time.
  7. Boxing Workout Channel your inner Rocky and do some jump rope, crunches and jump squats.
  8. Do Your Own Thing If you want to craft your own HIIT workout, simply remember these basic guidelines:
    • Get your heart rate up.
    • Have short, explosive bursts of heightened aerobic activity followed by even shorter periods of rest. A good rule of thumb is to take a rest that is about half as long as the burst. For instance, pedal your exercise bike hard for 20 seconds and then rest for 10.
    • Repeat the explosion/rest cycle as many times as you can reasonably handle.
    • Increase the intensity of your workout and the total amount of time each week, but don’t get excessive. Remember that this type of workout is harder on your body than typical aerobic exercise and requires longer recovery time.
    • Do something you love. Working out is much more fun when you’re doing something you’re passionate about. Whether it’s cycling, lifting, or jogging, there’s a HIIT workout for it. If you can’t find one online, make one up!

DON’T FORGET YOUR GEAR

Before you get going, there’s one more thing to keep in mind. The best workouts also require great gear. In addition to free weights and good running shoes, you might consider getting some breathable workout clothes. Maybe you’ll want a light tank-top, or if you are a woman, a supportive sports bra and yoga bottoms You’ll find that having comfortable clothing will make your workout much more enjoyable and if you get the right outfit, you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll look really good too. So get your gear and get out there and kick fat to the curb!

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