HIIT Training: Lose Weight Like Magic

You have already got the idea that intervals training is the sure-success key for cardio. If you want to burn fat, that is, as opposed to end up with chunky fat aerobics instructor syndrome. And perhaps you’ve seen my latest article in the Fitness First magazine and want to know more about ideal cardio for fat loss. Either way, I’m guessing that if you’ve been around the traps for even a little while then you can smugly pat yourself on the back, safe in the knowledge that you use intervals to take your workouts to the next level at every chance you get. One minute hard, one minute recovery right? Well, yes, but also – no. As with anything training and fat loss related, true success comes from keeping your body on it’s toes. Mixing things up. And while ‘minute-on, minute-off’ style cardio is certainly far better than endurance if you want to get lean it really is just a starting point. And if you are trying it again and again, certainly your body will start saying NO. So, it is not going to work as it did before.

Then, what are we waiting for? Let’s have a look what exactly an ideal interval training is. Well, for starters, true interval training is officially known as HIIT training – High Intensity Interval Training. And this sure isn’t just any old back and forth on the treadmill while you change tunes on your iPod and check out the latest night-time talent. I can guarantee you that this will supercharge your cardio, burn your fat and you will must say “OMG! It’s a magic”.

So This is How It Works

There are a few key elements that make HIIT training stand out from regular intervals, and the reason for that is the end goal (to maintain an anaerobic state for as much total cumulative time as possible). A proper HIIT workout consists of the following elements:

  • Time – HIIT training must last absolutely no longer than 20 minutes (extra time for warming up and cooling down is okay)
  • A beginner HIIT workout might have as little as 4-6 minutes total ‘work’ time, and an advanced might have up to a 50/50 ratio or beyond
  • Muscle groups – HIIT training uses as many muscle groups as possible, which is why sprinting is preferable to a ‘legs only’ cross trainer (for example)
  • When you really give these workouts with your all efforts, you should absolutely not be doing successive days. You need at least one day in between.
  • Only repeat a certain HIIT program (see below) for a maximum of 6 weeks. Any longer and you’ll start to adapt, so take a week or so off from this style of cardio, and then come back with a fresh HIIT program.

Combining Them Together

A total anaerobic exercise as much as possible, if that is your dream then it stands to reason that your rest times will be increasingly reduced as you advance through your HIIT training programs. As a novice, you might start out with 6-8 repetitions of 30-second sprints, with up to 90 seconds rest in between. After a week or so you’ll notice you don’t really need that much rest and you can gradually reduce down to a 50/50 ratio. If you’ve never really worked hard at your intervals before, did you?, then this is the ideal place to start for your first 6 week block and will also extremely enhance your fitness.

Taking things to the next level will surely further increase your fitness, but it’s also the point at which you’ll really start to chow through the body fat. In this way of training, you are going to burn your complete energy, so be sure to give yourself adequate rest between workouts. Try starting out with 60-second work periods and at least 2 minutes rest time. As before, gradually reduce your rest time until it’s a 50/50 ratio. Just keep in mind not to go beyond 20 minutes total work time, but also be sure to warm up and stretch it out afterwards. The sky is really the limit here, as you can obviously increase your work intensity even once you’ve dropped the rest time as far as possible.

The third (last but not the least) step (now things are going to be really interesting)- we actually start to drop your rest time lower than your work time. Yep, it’s intense, it’s a little bit scary, it’s bound to get your lungs screaming, but it really does blast away the fitness cobwebs like nothing on earth. And – as you can imagine – you’ll be burning fat like sausages on Australia Day. When you come to this stage it’s wise to reduce your total work time to as low as 10 minutes until you slowly become habituated to the higher intensity – or you just might find yourself wiping the floor with, well, yourself. Try to start with 60 seconds work time and 40 seconds rest, and gradually increase the intensity as you drop first the work time, and then the rest. Don’t forget your gym towel – you will need it!

Have gone through any HIIT training before? What’s your preferred approach or is there any way that you could make some changes to maximize your results?

HIIT Cardio Versus Fartlek Training

HIIT cardio is the new craze sweeping across gymnasiums in Europe and North America – the reason for this… it’s fast, efficient and it works!

High intensity interval training is something that athletes and runners in particular have been well aware of for a long time now. Fartlek training, translated from Swedish is ‘speed play’ and this has been a popular method of fitness training for runners for a long time and one method that has been shown to burn more fat than steady paced running. Fartlek training mixes slow paced running with high paced intervals of running, one example that most people who have ever played Football will be familiar with is jogging the length of the pitch, sprinting the width, jogging the length and then sprinting the width again.

Although Fartlek training is still a great method of physical training, the Tabatha protocol of HIIT shone a light on the possibility of condensing a workout dramatically without taking away any of the benefits. The problem with the Tabatha protocol of high intensity interval training is that it sounds false; no one ever really believes that a 4 minute workout can strip fat and although the 8 circuits that compromise the Tabatha method are extremely difficult, athletes often tend to feel they have cheated themselves leaving the gym after 4 minutes. On way in which body builders chose to incorporate the Tabatha protocol of HIIT Cardio to their sessions was to blast one 4 minutes session either side of the normal body building routine. This tends to be a very popular way of using HIIT without feeling you have cheated yourself.

The Tabatha protocol will work for anyone using it. What we all have to keep in mind is that time spent in the gym is not in direct correlation to results gained in the gym. Always keep in mind the famous saying ‘you can train hard or you can train long, you can’t do both’. A great example of this is the direct comparison of the traditional one hour treadmill session for fat burning at a slow steady pace versus the very popular and newly found 30 sets in 20 minutes Kettlebell Workouts. Studies show that not only are more calories burnt in the actual training session of the shorter period of activity, but participants display greater muscular definition, lower body fat and far greater fitness levels. This is just one way in which training harder for shorter periods of time is proven to be more beneficial.

Often you will hear about Boxers overtraining for a fight and not feeling fresh when the big night arrives which can have devastating effects, think of Amir Khan in his most recent outing against Danny Garcia. He was originally primed to a fight a few months earlier before Lamont Peterson was banned for taking illegal substances. After being stopped in 4 rounds only a couple of months after peaking for a fight that never happened, a lot of pundits and coaches around the world attributed this to over training. There are others such as the never outspoken Chris Eubank Senior who claims over training is a myth and a state of mind and it is more about becoming stale when training which the biggest worry is. Whilst this may be the case with Boxers, there is a lot of scientific evidence in body building as to how overtraining can halt results altogether. For instance studies have shown time and time again that Bicep progress is halted by over training and in fact as soon as the Bicep is over worked the muscle shuts down and no growth or repair will occur. In addition to this, often the best way to get over a training Plateau (a stage when progress as halted) the best way to get past this is take one week of the Gym allowing all the muscles and joints to recover. After doing this, most people find that they can instantly lift more weight than one week previous when they were stuck lifting a certain weight.

HIIT Training seems to answer most if not all of the problems associated with physical training; it keeps you fresh in body and mind. It combats injury and overtraining problems and is a tremendous fat burner and a great way to increase your physical fitness.