The minutes drag on as you put one foot in front of the other on the treadmill. The show you are watching on the gym television loses all appeal, and you find yourself staring at the treadmill’s screen and counting the minutes till the end of the workout, all to burn off that stubborn fat. But what if there was a workout that actually interests you AND burns more fat than your everyday cardio routine?
What is HIIT?
HIIT is short for High Intensity Interval Training. You may have even heard of HIIT already – it’s become a fitness phenomenon in recent years. In fact, HIIT is one of the two top fitness trends in 2014, according to a survey by The American College of Sport Medicine.
In HIIT, you push yourself to your very limit, opting for 100% intensity before taking a short recovery period at 50% intensity.
These intervals are repeated three to ten times each, depending on the length of the workout session. This formula can be used in cardio (aerobic) or weight training (anaerobic) workouts.
Burning more fat with HIIT
The reason HIIT has become a fundamental part of many workout routines is its effectiveness in fat burning. It is for this reason that we see HIIT used as the core technique of top fitness programs such as Beach Body Insanity and integrated into CrossFit sessions.
Go harder for longer
Breaking up periods of greatest intensity effort with recovery periods allows you to exercise longer and more vigorously. For example, a 45-minute session with a work-recovery ratio of 2:1 results in 30 minutes of extremely vigorous exercise.
Nobody can exercise at maximum effort for 30 minutes straight, but HIIT actually makes it possible.
This pushes your cardio performance to the next level and enables you to burn more calories in a shorter period, all the while keeping your workout fun and interesting. In addition, your time at the gym will be used more efficiently.
Post-HIIT workout benefits
While there’s plenty of benefits to a HIIT routine while you’re actually doing it, the best is yet to come. The hidden gem with HIIT is that it increases your metabolism, enabling your body to burn more fat as you rest. This happens because HIIT triggers a reaction called Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).
What is EPOC and what are its effects?
High intensity training pumps your heart rate up to near maximum, which increases your body’ s need for oxygen. The body tries to overcompensate for the oxygen deficit during the recovery intervals and even after the workout session ends. Studies have found that the effects of EPOC last for up to 36 hours after the workout session. This means you will be burning extra calories during rest for a day-and-a-half following your HIIT session.
“What difference would a few extra calories burned make?” you may ask.
According to some studies, EPOC makes a great difference because it doesn't just increase the caloric expenditure; it increases fat burning. A study investigated the amount of fats and calories burnt in anaerobic HIIT exercises found that HIIT doubled the amount of fats burned at the same caloric expenditure. In other words, if you and your friend both burn 200 calories doing weight training, but your friend is using the HIIT technique and you’re not, that friend will end up burning twice as much fat compared to you.
With proven ability to increase aerobic fitness, improve agility and noticeably increase fat burning and metabolism, High Intensity Interval Training should definitely be a part of every exercisers’ routine.