Power up your fat loss with HIIT

Power up your fat loss with HIIT

Traditionally gym goers and athletes have performed low to moderate intensity cardio to burn away body fat. But, it has become increasingly evident from clinical studies and experience that HIIT is the true king of fat loss!

For gym goers looking to reduce body fat, the traditional method of sweating it out on the treadmill or elliptical bike for half an hour has been a sure way of burning a few hundred calories. This method has served well, when performed regularly and combined with a decent enough diet and patience.  But, there is a better way – HIIT.

What is HIIT?

HIIT is an acronym for High Intensity Interval Training. This is a form of training in which an exercise is perform at maximum intensity for a short burst, say 20 seconds, followed by a short period of rest or low intensity exercise (anywhere from 10 seconds to 3 minutes), and this cycle is continually repeated several times.

The most well-known protocol for HIIT is probably Tabata; which was developed by Dr Izumi Tabata in the 1990s. He demonstrated that HIIT was far more effective at increasing VO2 max than moderate steady state cardio (15% for HIIT vs. 10% for moderate) and also boosted anaerobic capacity by 28%1.

Why is it better for fat loss?

Toned legs

Despite the reduced duration (HIIT sessions can be completed in under ten minutes), HIIT has been shown to produce significantly greater reductions in body fat compared to moderate intensity cardio, even despite lower overall energy expenditure2! In other words, HIIT is far more effective for reducing body fat compared to moderate steady state cardio.

There are two reasons why HIIT is more effective. Firstly, when compared on an equal energy expenditure basis, the body appears to favour fat burning during high intensity training compared to moderate intensity training2.  Secondly, HIIT actually brings about metabolic adaptations within the muscle which favour lipid oxidation (fat burning)2.

If the first point wasn’t compelling enough, it is the second point which makes HIIT a no-brainer for fat loss. The adaptions the body makes from following a HIIT program leads to a metabolic shift and greater levels of fat loss as the metabolism is improved. You are training your body to burn more fat and become more efficient at it.

How do I include HIIT within my fat loss program?

There is no set protocol for HIIT, although the high intensity efforts should always be maximum intensity and the rest period between each effort should be under 3 minutes. We have outlined a couple of possibilities below:

Tabata protocol

20 second maximum effort
10 second rest
20 second maximum effort
10 second rest
20 second maximum effort
10 second rest
20 second maximum effort
10 second rest
20 second maximum effort
10 second rest
20 second maximum effort
10 second rest
20 second maximum effort
10 second rest
20 second maximum effort
10 second rest

This is very difficult and not recommended for beginners! It may be best to start off with three or four of the “cycles” and slowly building up to eight once you have developed the necessary fitness over several weeks.

Active rest protocol

20 second maximum effort
1 minute moderate intensity
20 second maximum effort
1 minute moderate intensity
20 second maximum effort
1 minute moderate intensity
20 second maximum effort
1 minute moderate intensity
20 second maximum effort
1 minute moderate intensity
20 second maximum effort
1 minute moderate intensity

Similar to the Tabata protocol, the maximum efforts last twenty seconds, but in-between the max efforts are one minute of active rest where the exercise is continued with a moderate level of intensity.

Suitable exercises for HIIT

  • Stationery bike
  • Sprints
  • Squat jumps
  • Jumping jacks
  • Power lunges
  • Burpees
  • Heavy bag punches

Remember, the maximum efforts have to be all-out 100% efforts. As such, we would advise speaking to your GP before starting a HIIT program and slowly building up your fitness capacity if you are new to such high intensity training.



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