You may have heard about it before, whether it was on the news or internet, possibly even from a friend or social media – high-intensity interval training for weight loss (or HIIT) has gained recognition as a relatively fast and effective exercise modality used to promote body fat loss. So what exactly is HIIT?
HIIT is an exercise protocol involving brief periods of all-out intensity followed by periods of low-intensity exercise or rest. This type of exercise has been found to be the most efficient exercise protocol for reducing fat in overweight individuals. The intense work periods can range from 5 seconds to 8 minutes and should be done at 80-95% of your maximum heart rate, while the rest and recovery period range from as little as 5 seconds all the way up to 8 minutes at 40-50% of your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is a calculation used in the fitness industry and is important as it can aid in preventing over or under working out and can be found by subtracting your age from 220. These work and rest periods should be alternated for 20-60 minutes and can be modified for all fitness levels!
Why is HIIT so beneficial?
This type of exercise has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol while increasing insulin sensitivity which overall leads to an improvement in cardiovascular function. This type of exercise regimen leads to a reduction in body weight and abdominal fat while maintaining your muscle mass. Your ability to burn fat during exercise and post-exercise time periods increases and it has even been found to burn more calories in a shorter period of time than traditional steady state exercise. All this while increasing your metabolism and calorie burn even after your workout!
High-Intensity Interval Training for Weight Loss
Research indicates that HIIT is more effective at reducing subcutaneous fat and abdominal fat than traditional steady-state aerobic exercise which is exercising at a moderate intensity while your heart rate stays the same throughout your workout. A study comparing HIIT and steady-state aerobic exercise for a 24-week and period found that participants in the HIIT group lost significantly more subcutaneous fat than those in the steady-state aerobic group. (Tremblay et. al) Another study found that 15 weeks of HIIT training significantly reduced abdominal fat in previously untrained individuals. One particularly interesting study performed on overweight, Type 2 diabetics indicated that HIIT specifically allowed for the greatest amount of fat loss further compounding this exercise regimens efficacy at improving health significantly.
Are you wondering how to get started? Give this 12 minute HIIT workout a try!
You’ll do 3 rounds of 4 moves. Do as many reps as you can in 30 seconds starting with the first move, rest for 30 seconds before moving on to the next move.
- Air (bodyweight) squats, or squat jumps (depending on fitness level) – 30 seconds
- Rest 30 seconds
- Push ups – 30 seconds
- Rest 30 seconds
- Plank – 30 seconds
- Rest 30 seconds
- Burpees – 30 seconds
- Rest 30 seconds, repeat 2x
For air squats, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms bent with hands at chest level. Push your butt back, as if sitting down in a chair, and slowly lower yourself down until hip crease is below knees, making sure to keep knees behind toes. Stand back up and repeat.
For squat jumps, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms bent in front of you with hands at chest level. Bend knees and lower yourself into a full squat. Once you hit the bottom, jump up explosively and reach high towards the ceiling. When you land, return down to the squat position and repeat.
Everybody knows how to do these, but in case you’ve gotten amnesia: Start in plank position, feet and hands on floor with your body straight. Lower yourself down until chest hits the floor and raise yourself back up, keeping core tight. If these are too hard, you can scale them and drop to your knees (just make sure to keep abs engaged the entire time!)
Facing the floor, get onto hands and toes, keeping arms straight, abs engaged, and creating a straight line from toes to shoulders. If this is too hard, you can lower yourself down to your elbows and forearms.
From a standing position, quickly drop your body to the floor by kicking your feet behind you and touching your chest to the ground. As fast as possible, bring your feet back under you and finish the movement by jumping into the air and clapping hands overhead.