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High Intensity Interval Training – get your healthy weight today!

The universal law of fat burning - have you heard of it?
EdChron Desk on July 17, 2014 - 8:21 am in Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Sports


The American College of Sports Medicine has identified High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to be one of the top fitness trends in 2014. If you’re looking to burn fats and stay healthy, this could be your choice training. Many have chosen this training technique as you need lesser time to do it, with results just as good as if you’d exercise for longer.

What is HIIT?

The HIIT focuses on high intensity training that keeps your heart rate up and burn more fats in less time. The high intensity workout at intervals would mean pushing your body through short bursts of workouts with a recovery period in between. This high intensity cannot be sustained for long periods of time; therefore the workouts are shorter in duration.

Universal Law of Losing Weight

The universal law of fat burning is your body must face a calorie deficit. This means you use more calories than you consume to lose weight. If you consume 3500kcal and your body expends 2500kcal, the 1000kcal difference that is still in your body will add to your weight.

Whether we work our muscles hard at short bursts or maintain a steady-state workout, what matters is the energy used at the end of the workout session. If both 15 minutes of HIIT and 40 minutes of running around the track use the same amount of energy, then both are viable options for you. Of course, then HIIT is an appealing option.

To think that a typical 15-minute HIIT session is enough exercise to burn fats and lose weight is a misperception. The HIIT should be a part of your fitness schedule, which should include low-intensity and medium-intensity exercises. HIIT sessions can be incorporated thrice a week, with your 30 minutes jog, swim or yoga on other days.

Typical HIIT session

A HIIT session can last between 8 – 15 minutes, depending on your level of fitness. A HIIT session shouldn’t be physically possible to last for longer, because you should be exhausted after a 15-minute workout at maximum effort. This training can be ineffective to many mainly due to two reasons:

  • Maximum effort was not used (even though it felt like it). This is common when you first begin HIIT as you’re not used to pushing hard through out
  • Recovery period between each set is too long, leading to more time spent resting than exercising.

A typical 8-minute HIIT workout progression can look like the below. This excludes time for your warm-up and stretching:

Warm up – 2 minutes

Set A – 2 minutes:

20 seconds sprint – as fast as you can for 20 seconds

20 seconds active rest – do not remain stationary

20 seconds pushups – as many as you can push yourself to do

20 seconds rest

20 seconds crunches – as many as you can do

20 seconds rest

Repeat Set A once more.

Rest  – 2 minutes

End of workout.

The above workout is a lighter edition with longer rest periods and easier exercises we are familiar with. It looks extremely easy to do but it is not. Imagine sprinting your lungs out for 20 seconds, and resting for only another twenty before you start pushing your body weight off the ground for as many times as you can. That’s not easy.

Another common thought is the HIIT is just like circuit training. That is correct; it is a type of circuit training, since it is an interval-based workout. Circuit training is strength training with little or no rest in between. HIIT incorporates cardio in the workout with intervals for rest. The other difference is intensity – circuit training can be done at medium intensity, HIIT pushes for maximum effort during each exercise.

HIIT is not for everyone

Due to its intensity, HIIT is not for everyone. If you are just starting to exercise again, regulate your activity to ensure your body and fitness level slowly moves into an acceptable condition for a workout.  It is extremely important to get your doctor’s opinion before embarking on any form of relatively strenuous activity, especially if you have an existing medical condition. If you need any assistance to start a fitness program, a fitness trainer can help you with that.

Even if you have been brisk-walking or going on weekend hikes frequently, modify the exercises and extend the workout-to-rest ratio (the above workout has a 1:1 workout-rest ratio but a typical HIIT session would be at 2:1. This means you half the rest duration and complete more sets.)

Remember the two golden mantras to weight loss:

1) Burn more calories than you consume, and
2) Lose weight steadily for a healthier you!

Good luck, and take your first step towards being healthy again today!


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