HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. Now, this is where the “more for less” concept comes in, but don’t be fooled, you will be making up for that lost time with much higher-you guessed it-intensity!
The question is do you have what it takes to go all out for a short amount of time, rather than mindlessly wander through your current ineffective cardio routine? Consider this:
In an Australian study, people who cranked out 20 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training 3 days a week dropped 10 percent of their body fat, while those who exercised longer but at a lower intensity didn’t lose any!
How Do I Do It?
There are many different variations of HIIT, and you can apply them to nearly all of the common methods of cardio training. Let’s say you normally go to the gym and ride an exercise bike for an hour at a steady pace. To incorporate HIIT into your workout, here are your options:
6/9: This is the method used in the Australian study referenced above, and this is what I personally recommend. The numbers stand for seconds, and in this case, “6/9” means you would sprint all out for 6 seconds, then slow to about 50-60% for 9 seconds. Of course, you would continue repeating this cycle for as long as you can (you didn’t think you’d be done in 15 seconds did you?!).
For example, hop on the exercise bike and warm up for 2-3 minutes at about 40-50% of your maximum effort. Once you hit the end of your warmup session, BAM!, launch into a full out sprint for 6 seconds. Then, slow to about 50-60% for 9 seconds, and BAM!, full out sprint for another 6 seconds. So, each full 6/9 interval lasts 15 seconds, or 4 intervals per minute. Keep repeating this cycle for as long as you can, but be sure that you are going as hard as possible for each 6 second sprint interval. It’s OK if you can only last a few minutes the first few times. Your endurance will build, as your waist shrinks.
30/30: The “half and half” method was one of the first accepted ways of doing HIIT. Since then, we’ve learned that shorter bursts produce greater results. Reason being, you can’t really go absolutely all out for a full 30 seconds. Some practice even higher intervals of 60/60 or more. If you can last for that long, then you aren’t really giving your maximum effort the entire time.
That’s why short 6 second bursts are better, because you only have to sustain that maximum intensity for a short time. However, longer intervals such as 30/30 and even 30/60 can be useful for beginners. You may want to start here if you’re not used to very high intensity in your current cardio training, then you can work your way up to the more efficient 6/9 or 8/12 intervals.
Why Does It Work?
When you are giving your all out maximum effort, your body produces more of a chemical called catecholamine. Can you guess what catecholamine does? That’s right: it triggers your body to start burning fat. Even better, the higher your intensity and the more catecholamine your body produces, the longer the fat-burning process will last. This means you will be reaping the benefits of your HIIT session for up to 36 hours after you’re done!
Now, get out there, and get on the HIIT wagon! Remember, the first two letters are the most important. HIGH INTENSITY!