Get more fit with HIIT: Run less, burn more fat!

The word "cardio" is often synonymous with tortuous long-distance running.

Check out the tabloids, or spend just a few minutes talking with your local supplement store cashier. And they would have you thinking that cardio is the king of burning calories, losing fat and being healthy.

Now, if you happen to enjoy running like you were being chased for miles, that’s one thing.

But what if I told you there’s a way for you to run less … and at the same time burn more fat, lose more weight and feel healthier than when you were dragging yourself through long, boring cardio?

It’s time to ‘HIIT’ the ground running … and keep burning fat after you quit!

This isn’t some magic pill, or the kind of latest and greatest fitness fad you see advertised on late-night television.

This is something called High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT for short.

HIIT is a form of exercise in which you alternate between very intense anaerobic periods and slower recovery periods. This makes for a shorter, more-efficient workout.

"The high intensity intervals should be performed at near maximum effort, and the recovery intervals should be done at about 50%." That’s how personal trainer Daniel Lagimodiere explains this fitness routine.

Before we deep-dive into how you can use it today to start losing weight more effectively, we need to understand how different types of cardio affect the body.

Get More Fit: HIIT vs. LISS

So we’ve already learned what HIIT stands for, High Intensity Interval Training. On the other side of the cardio spectrum is LISS, which stands for Low Intensity Steady State cardio.

LISS consists of low- to moderate-intensity work. An example would be walking on the treadmill or taking a leisurely bike ride.

To test how effective cardio work is on performance, scientists focus on two tests: the lactate threshold (LT) and anaerobic threshold (AT).

Without getting into too much of the science, when both these thresholds are broken, the body experiences greater metabolic changes.

High-intensity training breaks both the AT and LT, and that’s what causes your body to experience metabolic changes.

When you are doing LISS, you are considered below the AT and LT and do not experiences this metabolic change.

Essentially, when you are performing HIIT workouts, you’re improving your metabolism. This could result in greater fat loss over time.

And when I say over time, I not only mean greater fat-loss in total compared to long, boring cardio … but also in just a 24-hour period.

When performing LISS, you’re only burning calories at that precise moment. There’s no 24-hour energy expenditure (i.e., boost in metabolism).

This actually causes a negative effect on the body. That’s because your body adjusts to this slow-paced cardio. And in the long run, you will end up needing more and more to lose fat.

You see, long, boring cardio affects the body almost like an addiction. Over time, it takes longer and longer periods of steady activity (often in the form of running) to burn the same amount of calories.

But with HIIT, when you receive this boost in metabolism, your body continues to burn calories — even after you stop your workout.

A study at Colorado State University found just 150 seconds of intense exercise can burn as many as 200 calories over the course of the next 24 hours. That’s thanks to a boosted resting metabolic rate.

Aside from just the performance benefits of HIIT, there may also be general health benefits to performing HIIT instead of regular long-distance cardio.

Running long distances consistently over time has shown to increase risks of heart disease, osteoarthritis, weakening of the immune system, injuries, and overall inflammation in the body.

This doesn’t mean longer cardio sessions don’t have a place in a workout schedule or healthy lifestyle. But, as they say, the poison is in the dose.

Start Getting Fit With HIIT

So how do you start doing HIIT? It’s actually quite simple. But just because you do less running, doesn’t mean it’s not hard. There’s a reason "intensity" is in the name.

If you want to do HIIT right and receive the metabolic benefits, then you need to work hard and actually give it 100%.

As I said before, HIIT is simply a form of exercise in which you alternate between very intense anaerobic periods and slower recovery periods. This kind of workout can last anywhere from five to 20 minutes, depending on your stamina or experience.

If you’d like to get started with a HIIT workout, here’s an easy and effective routine. (Ideas courtesy of Joseph Mercola MD.)

 Warm up for 3 minutes.

 Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. You should be gasping for breath and feeling like you couldn’t possibly go on another few seconds. It is better to use lower resistance and higher repetitions to increase your heart rate.

 Recover for 90 seconds, still moving, but at a slower pace and with decreased resistance.

 Repeat the high-intensity exercise and recovery 7 more times. When you’re first starting out, depending on your level of fitness, you may only be able to do two or three repetitions of the high-intensity intervals. As you get fitter, just keep adding repetitions until you’re doing 8 during your 20-minute session.

 Cool down for a few minutes afterward by cutting down your intensity by 50% to 80%.

This type of routine can be performed with sprints, on a bike and even using weights. The key is that you perform a period of high-intensity work followed by slower-paced recovery.

Now, this type of exercise isn’t for everyone. Unlike actual running, this isn’t a race to the finish. People do cardio for a variety of reasons — heart health, toning up and/or weight loss. As with any activity, start small and try to build up your intensity to a level that’s good for your body.

That’s all for today. I hope you can incorporate this into your healthy lifestyle and begin to see all the amazing benefits of HIIT!

Happy and healthy investing,

Brad Hoppmann

Your thoughts on “Get more fit with HIIT: Run less, burn more fat!”

  1. In the past, I used to struggle every time I had to lose weight. I used to follow all kinds of crazy diets: Atkins, Dukan, Nutrisystem, you name it. And even though I did lose weight at first and I never managed to keep the weight off for long. I regained every single pound I had lost and even more. The reason for my failure was that I didn’t understand the basic mechanisms behind weight loss. I kept looking for the magic food that would help me lose weight fast and effortlessly. Once I accepted that the only way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit, my life became a lot easier. Now I can enjoy my favourite foods (in moderation, of course!) and still keep my weight steady. A great resource that has helped me in my journey is: http://topweightlossmethods.blogspot.com

  2. Brad, this is very good information on high intensity training. Whether you are bodybuilding or training for a marathon, specific types of hiit workouts can be used by both types. For bodybuilders, they can cycle in hit workouts to boost their fat loss and maximize their overall cardio stamina. Something like every 4 weeks doing a 1 week intensity training week is recommended by bodybuilding.com. As for marathon runners, sprints can be an amazing way to properly train your cardiovascular stamina and speed. For everyone else, HIT seems to be a great way to get your daily workout in, burn fat, and all within 20 minutes. There’s an app that is taking over for bodyweight hit workouts called, Freeletics. It’s pretty sweet, and free. For training tips and nutrition guide for HIT training, you can checkout http://www.FreeleticsTraining.com – keep up the great posts!

  3. >>> [continuing]
    Then early this year I discovered HIIT and studied up on it at the following sites: http://www.maxworkouts.com/workouts_for_men http://www.builtlean.com/2010/09/11/20-minute-full-body-circuit-training-workout/ http://www.maxcapacitytraining.com/ (uses “just” bodyweight, has smart phone app)
    Paul Rogers at http://altfitness.about.com/
    http://www.amazon.com/review/RUKNVFK4ADF7O (scroll through the many great comments}
    Now my routine takes about half the time (still 3x week), but I have made more rapid gains in strength and reduced body fat percentage. [continuing]>>>

  4. Very important article, Brad. Especially for those of us in their mid 60’s like myself who have decided to stay fit to maintain flexibility, muscle and bone, and to increase energy and, hopefully, longevity. At least I intend to enjoy my semi-retired years more without dependence on the flawed U.S. medical delivery system. A better diet is also crucial.
    About 9 months ago I began working out 3 times a week with weights, something I had done for a few years during my late teens and then again in early 30’s. I also used to run in high school, but did not feel safe doing it now with aging joints, etc. At first, the weight routine I came up with using free weights at home took about 1.5 hours plus cool down. It was challenging, but fun in a way with the classic rock-n-roll playing on the box. [continuing]>>>

  5. The best explanation I have yet to learn … Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  6. Losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise, there’s no point in doing hours and hours of cardio and weight training if you’re still eating junk food, because you will not lose any weight, sure you may get fitter but you won’t lose any fat.

    Also, if you can’t fit 30 minutes of cardio in a day, 7 minutes will do the trick tremendously, well that’s only if you’re doing 7 minutes of HIIT (High Intensity).

    Do at least a 20 second sprint then a 20 second run, alternate for 7 minutes, everyday, you will feel great and revitalized after.

    Be careful in which guides you follow, there are TONS of fad diets and lies. Here’s a great weight loss program I used to lose weight and permanently keep it off: http://thehealthspecialists.com

  7. Very important article, Brad. Especially for those of us in their mid 60’s like myself who have decided to stay fit to maintain flexibility, muscle and bone, and to increase energy and, hopefully, longevity. At least I intend to enjoy my semi-retired years more without dependence on the flawed U.S. medical delivery system. A better diet is also crucial.
    About 9 months ago I began working out 3 times a week with weights, something I had done for a few years during my late teens and then again in early 30’s. I also used to run in high school, but did not feel safe doing it now with aging joints, etc. At first, the weight routine I came up with using free weights at home took about 1.5 hours plus cool down. It was challenging, but fun in a way with the classic rock-n-roll playing on the box.
    Then early this year I discovered HIIT and studied up on it at the following sites: http://www.maxworkouts.com/workouts_for_men http://www.builtlean.com/2010/09/11/20-minute-full-body-circuit-training-workout/ http://www.maxcapacitytraining.com/ (uses “just” bodyweight, has smart phone app)
    Paul Rogers at http://altfitness.about.com/
    http://www.amazon.com/review/RUKNVFK4ADF7O (scroll through the many great comments}
    Now my routine takes about half the time (still 3x week), but I have made more rapid gains in strength and reduced body fat percentage.
    It’s true that the metabolism is increased for up to 48 hours after a workout that includes the High Intensity intervals. I have checked the calorie burn with a HRM (old school chest strap with wrist monitor, not FitBit) and it is also higher over the shorter time span. The Intense intervals have to attain 85% of max heart rate, leaving me panting, and then as I catch my breath with a less strenuous exercise it drops to around 70% of max. For example, a dumbbell complex followed by abdominal exercises. It really is INTENSE, and afterwards I feel a mixture of mild exhaustion and pep gained from meeting the challenge. The scoop of protein supplement taken post workout helps 🙂

  8. Hi, Brad,, Thanks much for the HITT information. I’m a long time jogger with average 1 hour 4 times a week. My personal experience couldn’t agree more with the HITT theory that it’s more effective to alternate training schedules. Sometimes I even stop jogging for a week in order to reset my body to avoid being “addictive” to consistent long distance exercise.

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