I’ve been asked many times how I can look the way I do without being a slave to the cardio deck at the gym. Most people dread cardio, and I am no exception. The mere mention of cardio has been known to elicit groans because people associate it with an hour (sometimes more) on a treadmill or some other cardio machine. Well there’s a new sheriff in cardio town that researchers say works better for fat loss, in… (get this) LESS TIME. It’s called HIIT (high intensity interval training).
What is HIIT you ask? HIIT involves alternating between intense bursts (pushing yourself 75% to 95% of your maximum exertion in a certain activity) for a short interval followed by active recovery. For example, if you’re doing a HIIT running workout it would look something like this; after a quick warm-up, sprint for 30 seconds, followed by walking or jogging for 1 minute, then repeat this cycle for 20-25 minutes.
Why is HIIT more effective for fat loss? When you do cardio at the same pace for an entire session your body goes into a steady state and begins to adjust itself. Your body then attempts to conserve energy (calories). With HIIT your body is continually changing exertion levels, which keeps your body from entering that steady state. HIIT also causes the “after burn effect” also known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). Basically, HIIT increases your RMR (resting metabolic rate) after exercise. In other words, when you finish a HIIT workout your body keeps going like a fat burning energizer bunny! Studies have actually shown that HIIT increases RMR for 24 hours following exercise. Other studies have shown that long endurance activities can lead to muscle loss (catabolism) which can last up to 7 days after endurance activities. Catabolism happens when the body eats through its glycogen and fat stores, and is forced to use muscle as fuel. Compare the physiques of a marathon runner and a sprinter and you will see what I mean.
Try implementing 1 or 2 HIIT sessions a week to your workout routine. Also, try taking your HIIT outdoors. Once a week I take my HIIT outdoors to a steep 100 yard hill. I sprint up the hill, and jog down it. I do this 10 times, and it usually takes me about 20 minutes. Happy HIIT!!!