Get Fit with HIIT

On a daily basis, everyone is “busy” with their everyday activities.  Work, school, family, friends, and leisure activities take up the majority of our time during the day. The question then, is:   How much of that time is dedicated to fitness/exercise?  A study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that 62% of adults had some physical activity in their leisure time, but only three of 10 exercised regularly, despite the proven health benefits.  It defined regular physical activity as light-to-moderate exercise at least five times a week for at least a half-hour, or vigorous activity at least three times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes.

So, for those people who “don’t have enough time” and would like to have a good workout in the shortest amount of time, HIIT training may be the best option. “HIIT” stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, which Wikipedia describes as “an exercise strategy that is intended to improve performance with short training sessions.”  HIIT is a form of cardio which is beneficial to burning fat in a short and intense workout.  It focuses on your body’s different muscle groups, resulting in a more efficient metabolism.   It is more effective for fat burning and less time consuming than other endurance activities, such as running, cycling, and swimming.

How effective is HIIT compared to a traditional way of working out?  Running for a while at a lower heart rate (60% of max) primarily uses fat as energy.  If you train at 85% of your max heart rate you will burn more total calories and in the end: BURN MORE FAT!

A 2001 study from East Tennessee State University (Johnson City) demonstrated similar findings with subjects who followed an eight-week HIIT program.  HIIT proved to be the better fat-burner–subjects dropped 2% bodyfat over the course of the experiment.  Meanwhile, those who plodded through the eight weeks on a steady-state program lost no body fat.

The most recent study, out of Australia, reported that a group of females who followed a 20-minute HIIT program consisting of eight-second sprints followed by 12 seconds of rest lost an amazing six times more bodyfat than a group that followed a 40-minute cardio program performed at a constant intensity of 60% maximum heart rate.

HIIT is a time efficient way to complete your cardio sessions for an intermediate to advanced trainer whose goal is to increase muscle mass and burn fat.  If your goal is to train for a triathlon, marathon, 10k, or training for an endurance sport then HIIT isn’t for you.

Here are some general principles:

  1. 30-second Interval Workout:

The most ideal place to start with interval training.  Most interval training starts with 30-second intervals.  Start with 6 intervals and slowly increase to 12.  Rest periods also decrease from 90 seconds to 30 seconds.  Make sure to have a good warm up and cool down period.

  1. 60-second Interval Workout:

The longer intervals will completely exhaust your stored energy, requiring 24 to 48 hours to replenish.  This HIIT training is best for direct fat burning and weight loss.

Check out some exercises that may incorporate this type of training:

If you would like to get fit with HIIT and are “pressed for time” to exercise during your weekly routines, come check out our Total Body Fitness Classes (which incorporates the 60 second interval HIIT principle) here at CPMC!  Classes are Tuesday nights from 7-8 pm and Saturday mornings from 10-11 am.  See you there!

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