During my weekly doses, you will often hear me refer to HIIT. So I though it was about time I explained what HIIT training is, why I use it so much, and how these forms of afterburn exercises keep me fit and lean.
HIIT is short for High Intensity Interval Training. A lot of people have heard of interval training, and have probably used this form of training during their life, but have you ever done HIIT?
What is HIIT Training?
HIIT is the most efficient training method to burn fat and gain muscle simultaneously. HIIT is ideal for time poor people, like myself, as the typical workouts only need to last 30 minutes or less (some variations can be completed in as little as 4 minutes).
HIIT training consists of a series of short, high intensity intervals, followed by low intensity intervals.
How do you do HIIT?
The biggest advantage of HIIT is that it can be completed anywhere, as it can be applied to any form of cardio you can think of. It can also be designed to suit your level of fitness, anyone from a beginner to a professional athlete can benefit from HIIT.
The most common HIIT workouts employ combinations of 30 seconds intervals of high intensity cardio, followed by a low intensity interval of either 90, 60 or 30 seconds. The timing of the low intensity interval is dependent on your level of fitness. The fitter you are the shorter you need to make your low intensity interval.
What is the Difference Between a High and Low Intensity Interval?
During a high intensity interval, you should be operating at a pace where your heart rate is between 80-90% of your maximum. During a low intensity interval, you should be operating with your heart rate between 40-50% of your maximum.
The simplest way to work out your maximum heart rate is to use this simple formula:
220 minus your age = your maximum heart rate.
For me, given that I am 34 years-old the formula would be, 220 – 34 = 186.
Therefore my maximum heart rate theoretically is 186. I say theoretically as the human body is far too complex for it to be that simple. To think that every 34 year-old in the world’s actual maximum heart rate is 186, would be a little naive, but it’s a good guide.
Using my formulated maximum heart rate, I know that during my high intensity intervals, I need to get my heart rate up to between 148-167 (80-90%) and during my low intensity intervals I need to have my heart rate sitting between 74-93 (40-50%)
Putting it all Together!
To keep things simple for an example of a HIIT routine I have selected running as the mode of cardio as it can be completed by anyone around the world, for free, without any equipment.
Obviously you will need to warm-up and warm-down, but for simplicity I have only outlined the working component of the workout:
- 30 Seconds of Running at 80-90% of your maximum heart rate.
- 30 Seconds of Walking at 40-50% of your maximum heart rate.
- Alternate without break for 20-30 minutes.
A lot of skeptics will look at the above example and no doubt say, “You can’t burn fat by doing 20-30 minutes of exercise!”
The simple answer is, YES YOU CAN. How? The afterburn effect.
What is the Afterburn Effect and how does it work?
The afterburn effect is a catchy name for your body having an oxygen debt.
Take the above routine as an example, in order to run at 80-90% of your maximum heart rate you will have to be sprinting. When you are training at this high level, your body cannot supply, at a high enough rate, oxygen to fuel the working muscles.
After you have completed your session, oxygen has to be repayed to your muscles in order for them to return to their normal state as your body has been forced into an oxygen debt. The harder you train the greater the oxygen debt.
How does the oxygen debt burn fat I hear you ask. The oxygen debt increases your body’s resting metabolic rate, so long after you have finished your session, your body is still burning calories. In fact your body will continue to burn calories, even when you are sleeping, for up to 48 hours after.
HIIT the King of Afterburn Exercises
The greatest benefit of HIIT is the afterburn effect it creates. Given the impact the afterburn effect has on your body, it is clearly evident if you are time poor, like myself, and looking for an effective training method to increase your fitness and burn fat in the shortest amount of time possible, HIIT should be your obvious choice of afterburn exercises.
During my normal week of training I will complete HIIT up to 5 times.
On the days that I complete weight training, which is normally 3 times per week, I usually try and finish my session with an exercise using the Tabata Protocol.
On my non-weight training days I either complete a Crossfit session, play a game of Touch Rugby League or complete a Boxing Circuit.
For a more complete run down of my training check out Niko’s Weekly Dose.
HIIT sessions are the most effective way to burn fat. I very rarely complete a steady state cardio session. On the odd occasion I enjoy going for a long moderate paced run, but it is not very often.
If you are struggling on your weight loss journey, you should consider taking a look at my recommended nutrition plan <— Link to Website. Once your nutrition is in order I recommend you have a look at my recommended training program for women <— Link to Website or my recommended training plan for men <— Link to Website.
Let me know how you incorporate HIIT into your fitness plan or if you would like any help formulating a HIIT session simply drop a comment below!