Do you feel like you need to spend a certain length of time working out each time you head to the gym? How long is long enough for a workout? An hour? Two hours? With High-Intensity Interval Training, 15 minutes could be all you need to get in a great fat burning workout.
High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is a workout technique where you alternate short, intense periods of exercise with rest periods. Generally these workouts are 10 to 20 minutes in length making them the most efficient workouts for weight loss available. It’s also a great alternative for those of us who can’t stand pounding the pavement for hours each week.
What are the advantages to HIIT workouts?
- Save time. HIIT workouts are an extremely efficient use of exercise time. You can complete an entire workout in as little as 10 minutes. How many of us would choose a steady-paced hour on the treadmill over 10 minutes of busting our butt? That’s 50 minutes I could be spending with my kids. No-brainer!
- Increase resting metabolism. By kicking your own ass for just 10 to 20 minutes, you put your body into a fat-burning frenzy. HIIT workouts produce an effect called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. This “oxygen debt” that is created by intense training forces your body to burn fat for up to 24 to 40 hours after the workout. With a HIIT session in the morning you will be sitting on the couch in the evening, kicking back watching the game, and burning significantly more fat than if you spent an hour on the treadmill in the morning. The beer and chips however, will not help with the fat loss. Sorry.
- Increased strength and athleticism. One of the negatives to long steady state cardio is that our bodies can actually start to catabolize muscle. With HIIT, we can maintain our muscle mass and actually continue to make faster increases in strength. This type of training is very popular with highly trained athletes because of it’s ability to push past endurance barriers without increasing exercise volume.
How to get started.
First, be sure that you are healthy enough to exercise. Talk to your doctor before beginning any type of new training. Second, start gradually. If you have never done a HIIT workout, it is not a walk in the park. Literally. It has intense in the name for a reason.
I like to recommend to new clients that they start with a 1:4 ratio of work to rest. So, for example, let’s say we’re going to do interval sprints on an elliptical. Always start with a warmup. Dynamic warmups are quick and really get everything loose prior to a workout. Check out this article on Workout Village to learn more about dynamic warm-ups. Or, you can do 5 to 10 minutes at a steady, brisk pace on the elliptical. Either way, you want to be good and lathered up before you get to the sprints.
Then we move into the sprints. Do a 15 second sprint followed by a 60 second rest period. Repeat for a total of 8 to 12 times. 8 cycles takes only 9 minutes to complete. 12 cycles takes only 14 minutes. Add a 5 minute warm-up and a 2 minute cool down and you can have your entire workout done in 21 minutes.
If that gets too easy then move to a 1:2 ratio. 30 second sprints and 60 rest periods. From there go to a 1:1 ratio. 30 second sprints and 30 second rest periods. Adjusting the ratio of work to rest is where you can make things more challenging.
One thing I do want to emphasize is to keep the work period to 30 seconds or less. In my experience most people are not able to give maximum effort for more than 30 seconds. Having the work period consist of HIGH intensity exercise is key to stoking the metabolism and burning fat.
The exercises you choose to perform can be literally anything. I chose elliptical sprints for my example. However you could alternate 2, 3, even 4 different exercises into a single interval training session. Some of my favorites are hill sprints, lateral step overs on a box, heavy bag combinations, and various TRX exercises. Whatever exercises you choose, be sure that the intensity is high and remember that the more muscles used in a workout the more calories you will burn. Compound exercises like bodyweight squats, pushups, pullups, and almost any suspension training movement will maximize your fat burning.
Remember, the quality of your workouts is always more important than the quantity. You don’t need to spend two hours in the gym each day to get and stay fit. Maximize your output with HIIT workouts and you’ll start seeing the results right away.
For more on exercises, workouts and workout programs visit www.workoutvillage.com. Get Fit & Stay Fit!