You’ve tried running, yoga, and hitting the gym obsessively, but all to no avail.
Your chubby muffin top still hangs out and you’re struggling to zip up your jeans.
Before you curse the world and forever abandon your weight loss goals, there’s one more approach you should try.
And that is high intensity interval training.
While it’s a mouthful (and that’s why we abbreviate it as HIIT), high intensity interval training is actually one of the best ways to melt fat.
This revolutionary technique is sweeping across the nation, leaving an army of fit and healthy people in its wake.
If you’re serious about dropping those extra pounds, then HIIT is the fastest and most efficient way to get it done.
What is HIIT and How Does It Work?
If you’ve honestly never heard of HIIT, prepare to be amazed. That’s because it’s an exercise technique that allows you to get the benefits of a 45 minute workout in just a few quick minutes of intensity.
Yes, you read that right.
There isn’t a typo.
You can get the SAME benefits of 45 minutes of working out in just a few minutes. You might be wondering, how in the world is that possible?
Well, with moderate exercise, like jogging, your lungs, heart, and muscles are able to pace themselves because you aren’t going all out.
However, with HIIT, you are going as hard as you can for those few minutes. Therefore, your body will use just as much energy and strength as during moderate exercise.
The Basics: What HIIT involves
A typical HIIT plan involves intense anaerobic exercise that targets different parts of your body to melt fat and build muscle. You might do a combination of various movements, such as pushups, mountain climbers, plie squats, tricep dips, and more.
Each workout should feature a different combination of techniques to keep your body on edge.
However, instead of simply performing these activities, the goal is to push yourself harder than you’ve ever pushed before.
Like SERIOUSLY HARD.
Imagine your life depends on how many plank shoulder taps you can complete in a minute. At the end of that minute, you should be collapsed in a heap of sweat and breathing heavily.
Because HIIT is so intense, it should be performed three days a week, with rest days in between. These less-intense recovery periods allow your body to relax and begin repairing structures.
While the workouts themselves are only a few minutes long, to get the full effects of HIIT, you can’t just sit around like a vegetable for the rest of the day.
You do have to be slightly active, which you can accomplish by taking the stairs or parking a little further away than usual.
Even just getting up from your desk and walking around for a few minutes can really help you burn extra calories.
But duh – isn’t this already common sense?
Wait a minute. I don’t believe you
If you still can’t believe that this workout is legitimate (we don’t blame you), here is a quote from a real professional who you can trust.
According to Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology who performed a study on HIIT, if you want…
to boost health and fitness and you don’t have 45 minutes or an hour to work out, our data show that you can get big benefits from even a single minute of intense exercise.
So there you have it.
If a scientist backs it up, it must be true.
So for those of you who always blame not working out on not having enough time, there’s really no excuse now. Everyone can spare at least a couple minutes a day to build up a sweat.
Overall, HIIT has been shown to improve your endurance, reduce your body fat, increase your body strength, and improve your insulin sensitivity. It’s often used by top athletes to help them stay in peak performance, so you know it must be a good workout.
The Science Behind HIIT: Why It’s So Effective
Now that you understand what HIIT is, you’re probably wondering how exactly it works.
No, it’s not just some miracle bestowed upon you by some ancient god of exercise that likes the way you look in yoga pants.
There’s actually a lot of science to back up the effectiveness of this method.
One important study was completed by exercise scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
They were tired of the short duration and lack of a control group in former HIIT studies, so they decided to perform a rigorous study of the program and its effectiveness.
Researchers looked at 25 men who were just as out of shape as you. They took a baseline of the group’s insulin regulation levels, aerobic fitness, and muscular function.
Then, they divided participants into three groups:
One that followed their current lifestyle (AKA not working out at all)
One that started a typical endurance-focused exercise routine on a stationary bicycle
One that did HIIT on a stationary bicycle
Participants did their training (or sitting on the couch) three times a week during a 12 week period.
By the end of the study, the endurance participants had ridden for a total of 27 hours, while the HIIT group had ridden for only six hours.
However, after re-testing the men, they found that both of the exercise groups had nearly identical increases in progress.
Endurance had improved by 20% and their muscles were functioning better on a microscopic level. So remind me again, why someone would bike for 27 hours when six hours is just as effective?
Still Need More Proof?
Another study done by Izumi Tabata from Ritsumeikan University in Japan revealed that four minutes of intense exercise four times a week for six weeks led to an increase of anaerobic capacity of 28%.
However, participants who rode a bike for an hour five times a week had no increase in their anaerobic capacity.
A similar study done by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm confirmed these results.
By studying people performing HIIT, they were able to determine that the few minutes of grueling activity actually helps to boost production of mitochondria, which are the energy-producing powerhouses of cells.
Additionally, HIIT was found to break down calcium channels inside muscle cells.
Why This is SO Damn Important – Read Carefully
According to Hakan Westerblad, a professor of physiology and pharmacology involved in the study
this causes a lasting change in how the cells handle calcium, and is an excellent signal for adaptation, such as the formation of new mitochondria.
In normal people words, this means that your muscles are working super hard to compensate for the stress caused by HIIT.
The cell senses, ‘I have a problem here,’ said Westerblad. So to be better safe than sorry, they adapt so the next time they experience the intense exercise, the problem is lessened.
While the effects of HIIT do become less potent for experienced athletes who have already adapted to intensity, for the everyday schmuck like you and me, it’s one of the best workouts possible.
The 6 Major Benefits of HIIT Over Endurance Cardio
1. Takes Less Time
I don’t know about you, but I’d gladly pick the workout that only takes five minutes compared to the hour long sweat-fest. Think about it…
If you work out four times a week, that’s 20 minutes compared to four hours. Over the course of a year, that equates to a little over 17 hours compared to 208.
That’s not even a full day compared to eight and a half days. Just imagine what you could do with all that extra time!
2. Gets Faster Results
You should already know this if you were paying attention, but here’s another factoid to cement it into your brain.
The American College of Sports Medicine estimates that HIIT workouts burn 6 to 15% more calories than other workouts.
Since you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat, those extra calories really add up fast.
3. Helps You Lose More Fat
Speaking of fat, the genes that control your fat metabolism are directly affected by intense exercise.
This means that every time you do a HIIT workout, you will be producing structural and chemical changes to your DNA molecules to produce fat loss.
4. Helps You Improve Glucose Tolerance
If you’re even moderately versed in health (or watch shows like Grey’s Anatomy), you’ve probably heard the terms glucose and insulin.
Basically, glucose is a type of sugar in your blood, and insulin is the hormone that makes sure glucose levels don’t get out of control.
Often, fat people have problems tolerating glucose because their insulin levels are off.
Luckily, HIIT is a great way to regulate these levels, which can prevent diabetes or heart disease.
However, studies have shown that low-intensity exercise has no improvement on your glucose tolerance at all.
5. Helps Produce More Human Growth Hormone
Having human growth hormone doesn’t mean you’re going to bulk up like the Hulk and start raging on people who make you angry.
It’s a actually a normal hormone produced by your body that regulates how fast your cells growth and regenerate.
When you perform an HIIT exercise, your body’s production of human growth hormone can spike by as much as 770%.
This is because HIIT stimulates your body’s fast twitch muscle fibers, which endurance training fails to do.
6. Triggers Mitochondrial Biogenesis
While this sounds like a lot of scientific nonsense, mitochondria are actually very important for controlling the aging process.
Mitochondria are important because they regulate the energy production in cells.
Without enough mitochondria, you’d be at risk for chronic diseases like cancer, obesity, and disease.
Luckily, doing intense anaerobic exercise can increase the function of mitochondria in the brain and slow down the aging process. It can even prevent cognitive decline and help the brain recover after a stroke.
The Best HIIT Workout for Beginners
While there are a number of different high intensity exercise plans out there, it’s probably best to start with a simple one that will allow you to build up to more intense workouts.
That’s why we recommend beginning with a 7 minute workout plan that combines 12 different exercises for a whole body burn. It’s strenuous enough to have you collapsing at the end, but not so outrageous that you’ll die of a heart attack.
By using only your body weight, a chair, and a wall, you can perform a number of different movements to burn fat.
You will perform an exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and then move directly to the next exercise.
Repeat this set of exercises a few times a week, and you’ll begin seeing noticeable results in your fitness in just a couple of weeks.
Apps for Tracking HIIT Workouts
At first, it can be hard to get into the swing of a HIIT workout.
You may not feel like putting down your bag of Doritos and relinquishing your cozy spot on the couch.
That’s why there are a ton of apps out there that can help motivate and push you to get your workout in.
Here are some of the best apps currently on the market for your phone or tablet.
1. Twelve Minute Athlete HIIT Workout
This app comes loaded with over 185 high intensity interval training workouts that range from 12 to 16 minutes.
Each exercise includes detailed instructions and a video demonstration so you know exactly how to complete it.
You have the option to add equipment or to only use your bodyweight, depending on how stocked your home gym is.
If you’d like to humble brag about your workouts, you can easily share them to Facebook and Twitter after completion.
2. TuneTime Interval Timer
Price: Free iOS
Instead of fidgeting with complicated timers, TuneTime has simplified the process to make it easy for even the most technically challenged.
TuneTime integrates music from your phone during your intervals to help you get your groove on.
When it’s time to move on to the next exercise, a friendly voice will alert you so you don’t have to stay glued to the screen.
Best of all, you can log all of your workouts to keep track of your progress over time.
3. Bit Timer
Price: $1.99 iOS
If you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles, then Bit Timer is just for you. It’s super easy to start and stop without a lot of setup or programming time.
Just pick how long you want your work and rest periods to be, and it will automatically repeat 20 to 40 times.
The 10 second countdown gives you time to get in position before the workout starts, while the distinctive sounds help you know how far you are into your workout plan.
4. Seconds Pro Interval Timer
Seconds comes with numerous templates so that you can pick the exact workout format you want. When you do, the timer will be displayed in large and clear numbers.
If that’s not good enough, it will also speak a changing interval alert so you can hear it.
Seconds also has the ability to coordinate with music, provide loud or soothing alerts, connect to a Bluetooth heart rate sensor, or run in the background.
5. Impetus Interval Timer
Price: Free Android
With Impetus, you can easily set your own timer or choose from one of the many pre-made timer templates to get started right away.
It’s easy to customize whatever kind of sets you need to get in a good workout. All of your customizations will be saved for later so you can quickly get started next time.
You can even customize you interval cues with sounds or by using the text-to-speech engine.
Who Shouldn’t Do HIIT?
While HIIT is awesome, it certainly isn’t for everyone.
Many people can’t handle the intensity of fast exercise, such as those who are extremely out-of-shape or those who are older. These people risk pulling a muscle or hurting their back.
This is why it is so important to not push yourself too hard when first starting out. You need to learn your boundaries before trying to max out.
Once you have a better idea of how your body performs, then you can step it up a notch without putting yourself at risk.
Additionally, people who are at risk for a stroke may want to avoid HIIT.
While there isn’t a lot of evidence to support the fact that aerobic exercise contributes to a stroke, it is still a popular theory by scientists.
You might even remember the case of Andrew Marr, a popular news broadcaster who had a stroke in January 2012 after doing a vigorous workout on a rowing machine.
In a study done by Norwegian researchers in the same year, 4846 patients with coronary heart disease were told to do either HIIT or moderate exercise. Coronary heart disease is a huge risk factor for having a stroke or heart attack.
The researchers found that there was one fatal heart attack in the moderate exercise group and two non-fatal heart attacks in the HIIT group.
The health risks are VERY low
As you can see, exercising with this kind of condition has a very low risk of potential complications. In fact, the scientists from the study concluded that…
considering the significant cardiovascular adaptations associated with high intensity exercise, such exercise should be considered among patients with coronary heart disease.
That being said, it is essential to consult your doctor before beginning any type of exercise program, especially if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, have a history of strokes, or answer yes to the following questions:
Are you pregnant or recently had a baby?
Does your chest hurt when exercising?
Does your chest hurt when not exercising?
Do you get dizzy easily?
Do you have bad joints?
Do you take blood pressure medication?
Conclusion: Why you should be doing HIIT… right now
As you can see, HIIT is basically the only exercise you need to get in shape. It can help you achieve a lot of personal goals, including:
Working out less
Getting faster results
Burning more fat
Increasing glucose tolerance
Reducing the effects of aging
By just working out for a few minutes a day, you can transform your life. Shed your chubby persona and become the slim and trim sex-pot you’ve always dreamed of.
People will envy your newfound results and secretly wish they could look as good as you.
The real secret?
Anyone can look good with the help of HIIT.
Have you tried HIIT before?