What is HIIT and why is it so effective for burning fat?

What is HIIT and why is it so effective for burning fat?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, a staple part of any decent athletic training regime for the last 50 years, it has become very popular in more recent times as a training method for the general population. Ask any person working in the fitness industry about the benefits of HIIT and they will be quick to tell you it is the only way to train to maximise your cardiovascular results. This is due to the effects it has on the body in comparison to other forms of cardio based training.

 

“In a 2009 study from Canada, involving 60 seconds of intense exercise (at 95% of VO2max) followed by 75 seconds of rest, repeated for 8–12 cycles. Subjects using this method trained 3 times per week obtaining gains similar to what would be expected from subjects who did steady state (50–70% VO2max) training five times per week.”

The ability to work for a shorter period of time and achieve similar aerobic developments to those normally associated with more traditional aerobic training methods has huge appeal for a generation of people who are busier than ever and are trying to do everything in the least amount of time possible. The evidence from this study certainly supports this.

However, 95% of VO2max is not easy to achieve and is certainly not for beginners. You would already need to have a solid aerobic capacity to promote good recovery between cycles and a good layer of basic strength in order to get up to this level repeatedly when required. To achieve the full benefits this Intensity is required. Without Intensity, the desired results to match steady state aerobic training in a shorter period of time will not be achieved. It is not for the faint hearted when done properly. In fact, there is a massive clue in the title: High Intensity (clue) Interval Training.

Too often people use this type of training because they cannot be bothered doing a steady state effort e.g. 60 min run, swim or cycle. Wrong attitude. To achieve optimal human performance you must ensure you train across all energy systems. You must do some steady state Aerobic training. Now here’s the small print: if you are a specialist athlete, you have an excuse here. A powerlifter does not have to go for a 60 minute jog, in fact it might have a negative effect. This is true at the other end of the spectrum. A marathon runner does not have to powerlift. If you are training for General Physical Preparation (fancy trainer talk for keeping in good shape) and care about fulfilling your maximum potential then get out for some steady state cardio at least once every 10-14 days. If this is a new training method for you, stop procrastinating, just grab your stopwatch or wearable fitness app and get started. Track your progress over the next few months and watch how it affects other aspects of your training.

At W10 we use HIIT classes for an extra top up of cardio for our Semi- Private training members or as a main method of training for our Group Class members. If you have ever experienced one, you will know they are not for the faint hearted. You are supposed to be on the floor at the end having given your all (this is what 95% VO2max feels like) that is the only way to guarantee results.

The other thing we use HIIT for is fat burning. The effects of HIIT on metabolic rate have also been widely published: “it produces excess post-oxygen consumption, a.k.a. EPOC. A study performed by Jeffrey W. King of East Tennessee State University showed that HIIT increases the resting metabolic rate for the following 24 hours.” So not only can you increase aerobic capacity in a shorter period of time compared to longer cardio workouts, you can keep your metabolism burning for 24 hours after you finish working out. You are getting a double HIIT of fat burning exercise in one session.

Long and slow steady state training will burn a huge amount of calories in one session, because you are exercising for a long period of time, but as soon as you finish the fat burning is almost over. With HIIT you will burn less calories in a single session, but the effect will keep going for 24 hours. This is highly effective and a reason we use this type of training with all of our members, after all, fat loss is the one thing every single one of us has in common.

 

To test out our HIIT classes for yourself and see how we get our W10 members in top shape then click here to check out our 30 day trial membership.