HIIT Your Way to a Lean Body
Have a hard time losing fat? Tired of endless cardio workouts and yo-yo dieting? Want to look and feel your best without spending hours in the gym? Then it's time to give your workout a makeover!
Start by swapping cardio for high-intensity interval training. Also known as HIIT, this training method will skyrocket your metabolism and torch fat in no time. The best part? A typical HIIT session takes just a few minutes.
But how does HIIT work and what makes it so effective? Let's find out!
Why Steady State Cardio Doesn't Work
Go to any gym or fitness centre, and you'll see crowds of people cycling like crazy or running on the treadmill for hours. These people exercise day in and day out but have little or no results.
Now think about popular fitness models and bodybuilders. They lift heavy and barely do any cardio. In fact, many give up endurance training altogether in the offseason. They're super lean year round. So, what's the explanation? Isn't cardio supposed to be the holy grail of fat loss?
It's not that simple. Steady state cardio works to a certain extent. It burns calories and improves overall conditioning. In the long run, it keeps your heart healthy and boosts physical endurance. However, this doesn't mean it's the best way to lose fat.
In fact, too much cardio can hamper your progress. It puts stress on your joints, messes up your hormones, and slows your metabolism. Overtraining, including excess cardio, increases cortisol production.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, lowers your testosterone and growth hormone levels, leading to muscle loss. It also causes fatigue, increases appetite, and decreases your metabolic rate. Over time, these factors contribute to weight gain.
Furthermore, your body has a fantastic ability to adapt to exercise. The more cardio you do, the lower your expenditure will be. You'll burn fewer calories despite working out more. If you're just getting started, cardio can help you build up your endurance. As you progress, switch to a more effective training method, such as HIIT combined with Strength Training.
The Science behind HIIT
High-intensity interval training has emerged as the best way to torch fat and keep it off. This type of workout alternates between intense, short bursts of exercise and low-intensity exercise or rest.
For example, 30 seconds of sprinting or running followed by 30 seconds of walking is HIIT. The same goes for 30 seconds of push-ups or jumping jacks followed by 30 seconds of rest. With HIIT, you repeat this cycle for 10 to 20 minutes.
More advanced HIIT methods, such as Tabata, take only four minutes. You exercise at high intensity for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat.
What makes this training method so effective is its high intensity and short duration. Since a typical HIIT session lasts about 10-15 minutes, it doesn't raise your cortisol levels. Its high intensity elevates your metabolism and heart rate, so you'll torch more calories in less time.
Unlike cardio, HIIT doesn't affect your lean mass. This makes it ideal for those who want to get leaner and preserve muscle. The more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate and the more calories you'll burn at rest.
A significant advantage of HIIT is its ability to increase your EPOC levels. EPOC stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption and represents the amount of oxygen your body needs to return to normal after physical activity.
In other words, HIIT causes your body to burn calories during AND after training. Exercise that consumes more oxygen torches more calories and fat. Steady state cardio has no impact on EPOC, which means it only burns calories during exercise.
The Surprising Health Benefits of HIIT
HIIT not only makes you leaner but also boosts your overall health. It balances your hormones, revs up your metabolism, and increases cardiovascular endurance. Despite its short duration, it produces similar effects to twice as much moderate intensity exercise.
One of the primary benefits of HIIT lies in its ability to stimulate testosterone production. Due to its high intensity, it raises testosterone and growth hormone levels. These hormones regulate your metabolism and body composition as well as your mood. The higher your testosterone and GH levels, the easier you'll build muscle and lose fat.
In a study, subjects who did HIIT three times a week for 20 minutes lost 4.4 pounds in three months without changing their diet. Additionally, their visceral fat dropped by 17 %. Other studies have found that high-intensity interval training could increase lean mass and develop core strength.
Furthermore, HIIT has been shown to improve insulin response and lower blood pressure. This leads to a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic problems. Research indicates that HIIT lowers blood sugar and reduces insulin resistance to a greater extent than moderate exercise.
These are just a few of the many benefits of HIIT. However, beware that not even the best exercise can compensate for bad eating. If you're binging on junk food and drinking soda, don't expect to get dramatic results. HIIT is just a small part of a healthy lifestyle.
For best results, mix HIIT (I.C.E) with strength training (F.I.R.E). This way, you'll burn fat and build lean mass a lot faster. If in a gym, do it on the elliptical bike, treadmill, or Stairmaster. You may also apply this training principle when doing bodyweight exercises, such as plyo push-ups, mountain climbers, and burpees.
Remember to eat clean. Ditch the sugar and white foods like potatoes, rice, pasta, and flour. Fill up on protein, healthy fats, and vegetables. If your goal is to lose weight, treat carbohydrates as a supplement, not as a staple food. (Tha's a topic for another time.)
Do HIIT about three times per week. Don’t fear strength training! It’s one of the best ways to improve your body composition, get stronger, and keep your metabolism up.
So, what are you waiting for? Now that you know how great HIIT is for your health give it a go! Those long, boring cardio sessions will soon be just a bad memory.