Science has proven that high intensity interval training (HIIT) burns more fat in less time than a steady-state approach. When done strategically, HIIT can also trigger afterburn, in which your body uses calories at an increased rate for up to 24 hours post-workout. Interval training isn’t new, but exercise physiologists have discovered that HIIT training, when done correctly, is more effective, especially in older adults, for burning belly fat.
What’s the strategy? How do I get this fat burning result? Your intervals must be high intensity! That means work hard enough to become winded or breathless by the end of your interval. Breathlessness should last no longer than 15 seconds.
A great way to learn HIIT is to start with a group exercise class. Ask the teacher if he or she can do some high intensity intervals so you can get a feel for them. I love doing HIIT training with my cycle classes. If that’s not an option for you, then start on a treadmill, bike, elipitcal or stepmill. Make sure whatever cardio machine you use, you’re very comfortable with that machine. Make sure you know where all the buttons are, especially the stop and pause buttons.
Here is a HIIT program for a person of average phyical condition. If you’re just starting an exercise program, only try a few intervals in your cardio session with recovery segments being at least a minute or longer. This will help you get used to working at higher intensities, but with plenty of recovery time in between.
Warm Up 5-8 min. – First phase of warm up is to get the stiffness out of joints and have easy range of motion in the ankles, knees and hips. Second phase should heat up the legs. Third phase should begin to increase the heart rate. This can be done by either increasing speed, resistance or stride. When I talk about stride, I’m referring to steppers and elipticals.
- 4-6 high intensity intervals of 30 seconds each interval
- Recover for 30-45 seconds after each interval (eventually you want to be able to recover in 30 seconds*)
- 4-5 minute complete active recovery** before starting another series of 4-6 high intensity intervals
Cool Down- You earned a good cool down. Spend at least 5 minutes after your last 4 minute active recovery session and then stretch.
If you don’t achieve a winded or breathless state, incrementally increase intensity by increasing speed, resistance or stride length until you reach a winded/breathless state. Don’t be surprised if you don’t achieve this state on the first couple of intervals. You will find as you add the intervals it will become easier to achieve this state due to increased oxygen in the bloodstream.
* the quicker the heart recovers from vigorous exersice is a direct indicator to the strength of the heart muscle itself.
** High intensity intervals are more effective when active recovery is done correctly. Make sure you’re working above your warm-up heart rate. It should feel comfortable, but not causual. Walk steady, don’t stroll.
The great thing about HIIT training is the time it saves you. Once you get used to it, you can add HIIT to any cardio workout to add a little punch. If you’re traveling or can’t get to the gym, you can still do this training by doing exercises that bring your heart rate up. Some of the more commonly used methods are sprints, burpees, push ups, quick high knee lifts, jump rope, squat jumps, etc.
Try HIIT training once or twice a week at first. If you like it (in that sick kind of way), feel free to do it up to three times a week. The fitness gains drop off after that. Remember, it’s always good to change things up. HIIT training, especially on land (off cardio equipment), can be quite impacting on the joints. I would limit this type of HIIT to once or twice a week.
Happy HIITing!!! Let me know how you like it by leaving a comment below.