Many people try and burn fat by spending hours on a bike, treadmill, or elliptical machine while pretending they’re doing something else. Look around a typical cardio room and you’ll see people reading books, watching tv, and doing anything but actually focusing on working out. Sure, it’s a nice way to spend the afternoon, but exercise like that won’t help you shed pounds and get a fit, toned body.
What is HIIT?
High Intensity Interval Training is intense levels of cardio performed for short durations, designed to maximize results for the time you invest. It is a method practiced by firefighters, military personnel, NFL players, NBA players, and anybody who wants a faster, leaner, and stronger body.
The beauty of HIIT is that you work so hard for that short period of time that your body actually spends the rest of the day recovering. Want to burn calories while you’re sitting down watching TV? You can with HIIT. In fact, after a session you’ll burn approximately 9 times more calories at rest than on a day when you did not do interval training.
Obviously, this training is intense. You will need to push yourself out of your comfort zone and be ready to challenge your body. If are, the results are stunning – dramatic weight loss, improved cardiovascular conditioning, and toned muscles.
Benefits of HIIT
The benefits of this type of training are enormous. Not only will you spend less time working out, but you’ll actually be improving your body in ways you never believed possible. Your VO2 max, the maximum amount of oxygen your body can uptake during exercise, will skyrocket. After a few weeks of training, you will notice that your regular cardio sessions, long walks, runs, or just day-to-day activities leave you less winded and more energized. This is a direct result of the quality of this type of training and speaks to the power of interval training.
I mentioned that HIIT also helps you lose weight, but, in reality, it transforms your body into a weight-burning inferno. By working out with these sessions, you are actually modifying your body’s resting metabolic rate (RMR), which measures the amount of calories your body burns at rest. These benefits will last upwards of 24 hours after each session of training.
By conditioning your cardiovascular system, you’re also reducing your long-term risk of heart disease, age-related disability, and other diseases.
HIIT Programming Examples
There are many ways to do HIIT training, here are a few suggestions to get you started.
First, there are two types of interval training: all-out and sub-maximal. In all-out training you want to sprint (or move) at a rate that causes your body to rapidly fatigue. You want to be above your VO2 max, meaning your body is struggling to supply oxygen to your muscles. These movements should be coupled with ample rest between efforts.
The second HIIT method involves doing longer movements in such a way that you approach your body’s max VO2, but do not exceed it. You will still feel tired and need rest, however the effect will not feel as dramatic as with all-out workouts.
All-out workouts will push your body and increase your VO2. The sub-maximal efforts will train your body to perform at a high level over a longer period of time. Both are essential for weight loss, muscle building, and general fitness.
Sample Workouts – All-out
For all-out workouts, you want to perform short sprints, burpees, pushups, whatever at maximum intensity for 15 – 30 seconds. Then you want to rest for at least two minutes, repeating this pattern 6 – 10 times and attempting to always score better in your chosen exercise each round.
For example: 100 meter sprint, 2 min rest, 100 meter sprint, 2 min rest, etc, etc.
Sample Workout – Sub-maximal
Example A: Find a track where you will not be disturbed. Start by going for an easy 5 minute jog. Once you are feeling warm, get yourself mentally prepared. The goal of this exercise is to not stop for 10 – 15 minutes. Begin jogging around one of the bends of the track. When you reach the straightaway, start sprinting. When you reach the bend, resume jogging. Repeat for the entire time.
Example B: Warm up for five minutes. Sprint at approximately 80% of your maximum intensity for 45 to 90 seconds. Follow up with a 1 – 2 minute recovery. Repeat for 5-8 intervals.
HIIT can be done on its own or combined with any workout you are currently doing. I would highly recommend that you do not do HIIT after a weight lifting session because your muscles will already be fatigued. Rather, do interval training first and then, later in the day, do your weight routine. Do not exceed 3 HIIT sessions in a given week. You will expose yourself to unnecessary injury.
Don’t get frustrated. This type of training is very difficult and takes time to get used to. Pace yourself and try to improve every time you go out and work out.
A fundamentally sound diet is key to HIIT or any other training you are going to be doing. Make sure you are eating well-rounded meals with protein, fruits and vegetables. Consider adding a protein supplement to your diet to accommodate your body’s new workout routine. Your body will need all the help it can get.
If you’re serious about losing weight and building muscle with HIIT, you should consider a nitric oxide supplement. It boosts blood flow to muscles. It will give your muscles exactly what they need to grow, bigger, stronger, and more powerful with each workout. It will enhance your recovery time and give you a boost to your energy and metabolism.