By Tony Maslan, CSCS
Do you need to spend hours every day exercising to burn fat? Not necessarily!
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been found to be very effective in decreasing body-fat, increasing speed and improving your VO2 Max in a short amount of time (often 30 minutes or less)!
Performing your aerobic workouts at a constant speed (steady state) allows your body to adapt to that effort and conserve energy.
HIIT is performed at a level that raises your heart rate higher and keeps your metabolism elevated for a longer period of time after you finish your workout.
Example of How to Perform a HIIT Workout
1. Pick an aerobic activity (running, elliptical, jump rope, biking, etc.)
2. Make sure you warm up properly.
3. Perform that activity at a fast pace (approximately 75%-85% of your Max Heart Rate if you are wearing a monitor) for 20-30 seconds followed by a slow pace for 60-90 seconds.
4. Repeat step 3 for 4-8 intervals.
5. Cool down appropriately and take time to stretch. HIIT can be performed with several different time intervals.
For example, Tabata Protocol involves training an exercise for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest, repeated for 8 cycles (4 minutes total).
Make sure you scale your intensity to your fitness level. If you are a beginner, maybe your just walk faster for 2 minutes then nice and slow for a minute, then repeat.
HIIT is not for everyone. It is a lot more mentally challenging than slow, steady state cardio as well.
HIIT Is a great way to complete your cardio sessions in a short amount of time.
For an intermediate to advanced trainer whose goal is to increase muscle mass and burn fat, HIIT can be a good match.
If you are training to participate in an endurance event such as a marathon, 10k or triathlon, then HIIT may not be for you.