When it comes to weight loss, we all know that cardio is one of the top forms of exercise to burn away those calories. But what if there was another type of exercise, a subset of cardio, if you will, that is more efficient and more effective overall than general cardio?
High intensity interval training, or HIIT, has been making the rounds in the fitness community, and for good reason:
It’s the ultimate workout for anybody who needs to lose a few pounds and tone up specific areas of their body.
Before we get into why it’s so good for you, let’s go over what HIIT is. It can be any type of workout – running, weight lifting, swimming – that alternates between short bursts of high intensity sandwiched between longer periods of moderate intensity.
Running is an easy example:
Repeat that 3 minute interval for 15 minutes and you go through 5 repetitions of intense, fat incinerating exercise.
This is a perfect workout for weight loss because…
When you have a busy schedule, squeezing in that workout can be nearly impossible. With HIIT, a full workout can be over in as little as 15 minutes. A research study from the American College of Sports Medicine shows that a 25 minute session of HIIT promotes more health benefits than typical “long” workouts of an hour or more.
It Burns More Fat, Longer
Fifteen minutes isn’t a whole lot of time, so how many calories could you really be burning? HIIT elevates what is known as the post-exercise metabolism, which remains at an increased level for up to 24 hours after your session. That means you continue to burn fat faster than normal for an entire day after the workout.
You Can Do It Anytime, Anywhere
You don’t need any equipment to benefit from HIIT. All you really need is your body. Running, jump squats, plyometrics, high knees – any exercise can be converted to an interval rhythm, allowing you to raise your heart rate and increase oxygen circulation. That being said, HIIT also works well with jump ropes, biking, rowing machines, and free weights, for those who want to gain lean muscle without bulking too much.
It Retains Muscle
Speaking of bulking, I know some of you aren’t too keen about dropping a lot of muscle mass. Bodybuilders going through a cutting phase need to drop body fat without losing muscle tissue. High intensity interval training, unlike steady state cardio, won’t burn through muscle mass.
It’s Great for Your Heart
With heart attack numbers at their highest in years, cardiovascular health is currently one of the trending topics in the country. HIIT boosts the function of the muscles in your heart and disperses more oxygen to the rest of the body. Studies have shown that after just a few weeks of HIIT, bikers were able to ride nearly twice as long before experiencing anaerobic conditions (pounding heart, short of breath).
It Gets Results
One of the reasons people usually stop dieting or working out is that they don’t see results right away. It can be hard—you’re putting your body through all this suffering but nothing seems to happen. With HIIT, clear, definite results can show up in as little as a week, though it may be longer depending on the person. On the other hand, if you’re a seasoned work out veteran, HIIT can bring something new to the table. No what level your fitness level may be, HIIT offers a fresh challenge and a dynamite way to kick your metabolism into overdrive.