If your goal is to lose fat, you can’t just jog at a steady pace every day and expect to see the pounds come off. You need to incorporate the most efficient fat burning exercise: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Learn why HIIT workouts are good for burning fat fast and how to get started with them for better weight loss results.
Before we go further, it’s important to state: there’s no quick-fix or overnight answer to weight loss. No matter what diet pill, promotion, or fad, weight loss doesn’t occur in the blink of an eye. In order to burn fat, you need to both eat a clean diet where you consume fewer calories than you burn during the day, and you need to workout.
The problem is, some people believe all workouts are created equally, and they’re not. Different workouts give you different results.
If your goal is to increase your overall fitness level and work your heart, you want aerobic exercise. It’s okay for that to be “low-impact” like walking, jogging, or swimming.
What Is High Intensity Interval Training?
If you’re new to High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, it’s a fairly simple concept: work harder, not longer. You exert maximum effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods. These intervals get your heart rate up and burn more fat and calories in less time—and more effectively—than Low Impact Steady State exercise, or LISS.
Related: The Beginner’s Guide To HIIT
Is HIIT the Best Way to Burn Fat?
Research is clear: HIIT helps you lose fat. In one study, people doing HIIT 3x weekly lost over 4 pounds in 4 weeks without any changes to their food.
What’s most important about HIIT is its ability to help reduce visceral fat. Visceral fat is correlated with diseases likely because it can envelope your organs. Visceral fat is what we see as “belly fat”.
While all exercise is good, HIIT gives fat burning benefits in the shortest amount of time. We love efficiency in today’s busy world.
Why HIIT burns More Fat: The Metabolic Effects
So you know HIIT workouts burn fat better, but how? Studies show that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) improves insulin sensitivity by anywhere from 23-58%.
This is crucial because insulin sensitivity helps boost fat loss. If you become someone who is insulin resistant, such as a diabetic, your body has more and more trouble losing fat. Dr. Len Kravitz, one of my favorite exercise physiologists, also explains that HIIT increases post-exercise energy expenditure, also known as Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (E.P.O.C).
Kravitz also notes that after a HIIT session, “oxygen consumption and caloric expenditure remain elevated as the working muscle cells restore physiological and metabolic factors in the cell to pre-exercise levels. This translates into a higher and longer post-exercise caloric burn.”
In simpler terms, this means that after a HIIT workout, your body will continue to burn more calories than it would after a lower impact, steady-state exercise, such as walking or jogging.
This is a HIIT afterburn effect.
HIIT Hormone Effect
Not only that, but HIIT workouts cause a spike in two key hormones: epinephrine and norepinheprine, which play an important role in fat loss. These two hormones (sometimes referred to as adrenaline and noradrenaline: the fight or flight hormones) are responsible for driving lipolysis, which is the breakdown of fat.
Interestingly enough, a study from the Journal of Obesity noted that HIIT may play an especially key role in decreasing abdominal fat stores—that visceral fat that surrounds the organs in your stomach, and coincidentally, the area so many of us struggle to lose weight around.
The bottom line is this: if you’re struggling to lose excess weight and you feel like you’ve tried everything else—clean eating, consistent workouts, etc—it’s time to consider HIIT training.
No one can spot-reduce their way to flat abs overnight, but it is possible to burn more fat more efficiently by incorporating High Intensity Interval Training if you’re currently just doing Low Intensity Steady State cardio or weight training.
Some of my favorite HIIT workouts utilize the Tabata method, which consists of 20 second intervals of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of recovery, for eight cycles in a row.
I’ve been teaching HIIT classes for years. It’s been a privilege to see lots of my participants change their bodies and fitness level with consistent HIIT training.
Yes it’s intense, but if you ease into it and listen to your body, you really can boost your body’s fat burning abilities. We have a guide to HIIT workouts for beginners to help you get started—and of course, if you’re ready to jump in with two feet, then check out Get Healthy U TV and do a HIIT workout with me!
Try this 20-Minute Bodyweight HIIT Workout:
This workout will:
- Torch Calories (during and hours after you workout!)
- Increase Strength
- Improve Heart Health (by increasing your heart rate during the working intervals)
- Give You A Total Body Sweat At Home — using no equipment, just the weight of your own body.
- Perform each exercise for 30 seconds; moving directly from one exercise to the next.
- Repeat x 3 sets, taking a full minute to two minutes off between sets.
You will move from higher intensity exercises on your feet to exercises on the floor. The floor exercises are not “lower intensity. ” You will find that they still get your heart rate pumping, they are just movements on the ground.
Throughout this 20-minute Bodyweight HIIT workout you are pushing your heart rate so that it stays in the “HIIT zone” for a maximum calorie burn! Ready, set, HIIT!!
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Rhonda Griffith on March 28, 2018 at 8:50 AM
Is HITT work outs good for people over 50?
Chris Freytag on March 28, 2018 at 1:17 PM
Hi Rhonda! Yes, they can be but it just depends. If you're new to fitness, I recommend starting out slow. Also, HIIT workouts are generally higher impact so if you struggle with joint pain, it might not be the best. However, I love doing HIIT workouts myself so it just depends on what you're looking for!