Here’s a guest post from sports enthusiast Miguel, the blogger behind MuscleProgress.com
HIIT – which stands for high intensity interval training – is a method of training that is the opposite of steady-pace cardio. It’s far more physically demanding (hence high intensity) and lasts a lot less time. It consists of a series of intervals alternating highly intense activities with periods of rest or less intense activities. I discovered HIIT through a friend a few years ago, and since then I have never gone back to the classic steady-pace cardio workouts.
Forget about the supplements – just train and win
It’s incredible the results you can get just by training this way and give a little due care to your diet. It always blows my mind just how much marketing campaigns get into people’s heads about weight loss, and that’s because people are always looking for a quick easy fix; a quick solution right now! In all likelihood, that is what most of us were looking for when we first got into this. I can tell you that high intensity interval training is the closest thing to a quick fix that I have found in my entire life, and you will be blown away by the results if you are consistent. I personally lost more than 10 pounds by sticking with an HIIT routine and just a simple L-carnitine supplement for less than 15 bucks.
But you don’t need supplements to lose weight, you really don’t. Plan or find a good diet, stick with a good HIIT routine and if you become stagnant at some point, cut 100 calories from your diet, repeat and do the same – that’s what I did. You can expect a better fat-reduction than what you have previously seen, your endurance will improve (both aerobic and anaerobic), and you will feel light and energized.
Time, energy and keeping the muscle, baby!
It’s curious that if HIIT has a downside, it is that it has a major effect on joints – moreso than steady cardio and more time is needed for recovery. But you will feel energized instead of tired for the rest of the day and the next day. I tell you I feel great; exhausted immediately after the workout, but great for the rest of the day and the next. You will not only increase your fat reduction rate and your endurance, but you will also build willpower over a couple of weeks.
The typical cardio HIIT session can last 10-15 minutes. Another benefit of that short period of time is the avoidance of muscle consumption as fuel. In fact, not only will you preserve more muscle mass compared with steady-type cardio, but the body may increase anabolic hormone production. This means you can build more muscle by doing cardio. Crazy huh? I must tell you that this is a fact, but the muscle gains are rather minimal in my personal experience.
How to schedule your workout
You can exercise in whatever way you want. I personally like body weight exercises, not so much running or biking, just bodyweight exercises like squats, push ups and so on, combined with some light dumbbell exercises, you will find a routine just like that at the end of this article.
If you find yourself getting it, and making good progress, and you want to improve even more, simply add more intervals to your routine. Plan a progression for your workouts as time goes on. Another thing you can do along with adding intervals is to reduce the time, if you do 1-1 minute workout/rest ratio, do 30-30 seconds ratio, or 1min-30 seconds ratio. Try both of these things together or separately to improve your fat loss process.
Research and my experience
There is some research into how much more fat HIIT can burn compared to the regular steady-pace cardio. As always there are differing views about just how effective HIIT is, but the results show that anything up to nine times more fat gets burned doing high intensity interval training. My experiences have definitely shown me that it burns much more fat, and that it’s a very rewarding type of training because you can see the results quicker – and exercising for less time! If you are looking to reduce your body fat I highly encourage you to give HIIT a try. Just try it for 3 weeks. If you are consistent during that period, both with your training regimen and your diet, you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll continue training this way for the rest of your weight loss journey.
A big warning for you looking to train this way, if you suffer from heart or respiratory health problems I do not recommend this kind of high intensity training. In any case, you should consult a doctor before anything else. It’s just common sense, as this is a high intensity activity. If you do not suffer health issues go ahead and give it a try!
9 minutes consisting of intervals of 30 seconds pull-ups and 30 seconds pushups follow by 30 seconds rest
15 minutes consisting of intervals of 1 minute high knees follow by 30 seconds light jogging (static)
12 minutes of intervals consisting of 15 jumping jacks/10 pushups/10 bicep curls follow by 30-45 seconds rest
Editor’s note: as Miguel rightly warned, always make sure you get a check-up with your physician before embarking on any kind of exercise or diet program, especially if you are just starting out on a weightloss program.
If you decide to do your HIIT training by running instead of doing a body-weight regimen, first give yourself a month or so of regular normal pace running (three times a week). Aim to get your distance up to 5km of solid steady-paced running. At that point, your muscles and tendons will be adapting to running. Only then should you introduce one HIIT running session per week. It should last only 15-20 minutes, and as a beginner, start with fartlek (speed play) training, where you alternate between high speed sprints at 80-90% exertion and slow recovery jogs. At this stage, you get to decide on the time intervals and in fartlek, these can be random.
Always take a couple of days off to recover after an HIIT running session. When you are fitter and more advanced, and your body is used to the rigors of high intensity running, then think about adding in sprint interval training and hill sprint sessions too.