Do you, like most gym goers, believe that it takes over an hour each day in the gym to see results? This idea of sweating it out for hours and hours each week stems from a traditional cardiovascular exercise mindset. The popularity of cardio coincided with the widespread use of in-door fitness equipment such as the treadmill. For decades, fitness enthusiasts believed that 45 to 60 minutes (or even more!) on a treadmill at a low intensity would generate the greatest amount of fat loss. Modern research is proving this is far from true. Let’s take a look at the emergence of a new type of cardiovascular training that saves you time and burns far more fat.
THE PROBLEM WITH TRADITIONAL CARDIO
The treadmill-based cardio workout that almost everyone is familiar with has one major flaw: your body will quickly plateau due to a lack of changing stimuli. The long duration of the low intensity exercise may be challenging at first but your body, in its need for homeostasis, will be hyper efficient at adapting. After several workouts, your body knows what to expect and doesn’t need to work nearly as hard as you keep working at the same incline for the same self prescribed time limit. In other words, you aren’t challenging yourself. So what is the solution? High intensity interval training.
WHAT IS HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING?
High intensity interval training, otherwise known as H.I.I.T., is a form of cardiovascular-based circuit training. Although it is traditionally based on bodyweight exercises, low volume can be incorporated. H.I.I.T. involves completing set variables for a number of exercises, targeting alternating muscle groups, in rapid succession. No rest period is allowed until you complete one full set of every exercise.
BENEFITS OF H.I.I.T.
H.I.I.T. is as intense as it sounds. Is it all just fitness hype? Not at all. One real world example is to think about runners who specialize in sprinting. They aren’t running long distances. They are utilizing maximum effort for a very short period of time. Despite very short workouts, sprinters are extremely lean and fit. Science also has a lot to say about H.I.I.T.
Workouts that are short in duration yet extremely high in intensity have been shown time and time again to be one of the most effective methods for triggering fat loss and muscle building. As you’ll see in this study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, H.I.I.T. was proven to be vastly superior to its traditional cardio (long duration/low intensity) counterpart.
One of the biggest excuses used when people don’t exercise is the amount of time it takes. Another study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism focused on just how effective H.I.I.T. was at saving time for the subjects. The result? It was confirmed that H.I.I.T. is a highly effective and time efficient way to work out.
BEGINNER’S H.I.I.T. WORKOUT
Here’s a great sample H.I.I.T. workout to get you started. Best of all, one set is going to be quick and to the point. Allot yourself 1 to 3 minutes to rest before beginning another set.
Bodyweight Squats: 20
Reverse Lunges: 20
Mountain Climbers: 15
INTERMEDIATE H.I.I.T. WORKOUT
10x100m Sprints @ 75-80% effort – Walk 30m recovery Slow jog 70m
High intensity interval training is not only the best way to burn fat and support muscle growth, but it can be performed anywhere at any time. Incorporate a H.I.I.T. workout into your routine up to four times per week for great results.
Our PT Accelerator Program has a full subject on metabolic conditioning, called 'Advanced Circuit Design'. Check it out here.
Tristan Hill, Masters of Sports Coaching, author of Lifting the Bar and mentor to Personal Trainers.