Most fitness experts would agree that expecting to get fit fast from a diet or even exercise isn’t a responsible way to approach weight loss. Losing weight and staying fit takes dedication and consistency. But science may have proven otherwise.
Recent studies are finding that quick fat loss—in some cases, in as little as two weeks—may be possible with high intensity interval training, also known as H.I.I.T., short bursts of challenging activity like sprints followed by periods of rest or lower intensity work in between. The highly effective workouts are gaining popularity for the lean physiques they create and revved-up metabolisms that keep its fanatics burning fat long after the workout is over.
When researchers compared the 20 to 30-minute HIIT workouts with longer, steady state cardio exercise, the HIIT workouts delivered the same cardiovascular and strength benefits in less time.
In scientific studies, subjects not only drastically reduced their abdominal and visceral fat and lowered overall fat mass to build lean muscle; they also increased their aerobic power. Scientifically speaking, HIIT lowers insulin resistance resulting in fat oxidation and improved glucose tolerance.
Although HIIT activity is brief, the exercise activates an immediate change to structural and chemical DNA expression while leaving the muscles’ genetic code unchanged. The muscle is re-programmed for strength with a boost in the production of strength-building human growth hormone, and fat metabolism through the production of more fat-burning enzymes.
Weight loss aside, HIIT also protects against cardiovascular disease. Studies show it improves heart and blood vessel function and helps regulate blood sugar, even in as little as just one session.
HIIT can be applied not only to cardio but also to strength and circuit training and it can be done anywhere, with or without equipment. It’s ideal for those who travel often or have limited time to squeeze exercise into their busy day.
You can build your own interval-style workouts using two challenging movements back to back before a rest period. You should catch your breath but never recover fully before starting the second set within the workout. Even the rest periods serve a purpose, to increase your body’s ability to recover. The fitter you are, the faster you’ll recover.
These are a few sample HIIT-style workouts to get you started:
Beginner HIIT Workout
Aim for one HIT workout per week
· After a brief warm-up, of a brisk walk or jog, run fast for 1 minute
· Walk for two minutes
· Repeat five to seven times
Intermediate HIT Workout
Aim for two HIIT workouts per week
After a brief dynamic warm-up, or five minuets of jumping rope, try this Tabata-style workout:
· 20 seconds of high knees, running in place drawing your knees as high up to your chest as possible
· 10 seconds of rest
· 20 seconds of mountain climbers, from plank position drive your knees toward your chest, alternating legs
· 10 seconds of rest
· Repeat the circuit four times through
Advanced HIIT Workout
Aim for three HIIT workouts per week
After a brief dynamic warm-up, or five minuets of jumping rope, try this Kettlebell workout:
· 30-seconds of Kettlebell swings
· 45 to 60 seconds of rest
· Repeat seven to 10 times
As always, pair exercise with a healthy diet, core strength, stretching and plenty of sleep. While results vary for every individual, many people start to see results within six to eight weeks of HIIT training. If you’re new to exercise, ease into it to avoid overuse injuries and know when to take a day off.
Brian Maher is a personal trainer in Center City Philadelphia who specializes in weight loss and nutritional counseling. He is the owner of Philly Personal Training, a company offering convenient in-home personal training packages to busy individuals looking to improve their fitness levels. To learn more about Brian and his services, visit www.phillypersonaltraining.com. Read all of Brian’s posts for Be Well Philly here.