High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a style of exercise that took the fitness industry by storm. HIIT workouts proved to be more effective than the more traditional longer training sessions.
The consensus was the longer you exercised the more calories and fat your body burned. This sort of makes sense when you first think about it. For example, if jogging for 10 minutes burns a specific amount of calories and fat then one would conclude that jogging for 60 minutes would burn a lot more.
But that is not the case. The prevailing wisdom was that “more is better.” However, scientific research and testing shows us otherwise. It turns out that short, intense training sessions resulted in more fat loss in a shorter period of time.
If you are someone who has plenty of time for fitness then you have plenty of options. You can enjoy healthy aerobic exercise and strength training for several hours throughout the week. Time might not be an obstacle for you.
However, most of us have a limited amount of time to carve out during the day for exercise. If you work 16 hours a day or are a busy mom, trying to lose weight and burn unhealthy body fat becomes a challenge.
Steady-State Cardio Workouts vs HIIT Workouts
Now, here’s the good news. You don’t have to engage in what fitness professionals call steady-state cardio exercises. These are exercises you perform for longs periods of time to get the results you’re looking for.
Steady-state cardio is what your body experiences when you jog or bicycle for a long period of time. People who jog for an hour usually jog at a steady rate of speed. This steady-state of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular and aerobic exercising delivers a lot of health benefits.
You burn calories and fat while also cleansing your body of toxins by sweating. Your cardiovascular and respiratory systems become more efficient; you boost your metabolism and you enjoy less stress and anxiety.
You also build long, lean muscles which are efficient fat burners. Additionally, numerous mental benefits result from extended periods of steady-state cardio workout sessions. However, your rewards end soon after you stop moving.
Fortunately, high-intensity interval training delivers all those benefits in a fraction of the time.
HIIT fitness sessions are defined as intense and short bursts of extremely vigorous activity. These activities are separated by longer time periods where you are either completely at rest or performing less intensive activities.
With HIIT you’re turning your body into a fat burning machine because these workouts tap into your stubborn fat stores. This is why people see results much faster. The intense workouts force your body to burn the belly fat it loves to cling to.
HIIT increases stamina because your body is forced into a state of discomfort. At the same time you’re building lean muscle because this is a full body workout.
Research shows that these types of highly intense bursts of activity separated by periods of rest are effective. In fact, they can be more efficient than much longer exercise sessions.
HIIT Workouts Are a Super-Efficient Weight Loss Strategy
Here’s an interesting fact. If you perform 15 minutes of HIIT (sprint for 30 seconds then walk for 60 to 90 seconds), you outperform someone who jogs for 60 minutes.
You also dramatically improve your aerobic capacity in a very short period of time. You train your body to get up to speed quickly when you perform any type of moderate to intense physical activity, whether you’re working out at your local gym or gardening in your backyard.
High intensity interval training is 3 or 4 times as efficient at burning calories and fat as steady-state aerobic exercises. This means you don’t have to spend your entire life trying to lose weight.
We all have limited time in our busy lives to devote to physical fitness. As a beginner you can start with 2 or 3 HIIT sessions a week along with a strength training session. Or you can start with 5 or 6 sessions of HIIT fitness routines each week. This can lead to significant and sustainable weight loss.
That’s the advantage of HIIT workouts. What’s more, you can see real results in just 2 weeks. Don’t know how to get started? You can read this article, 10 Effective HIIT Workouts, to learn more. You can also run a search for HIIT workout videos for beginners. You’ll find many videos and HIIT plans for beginners.
Are You Healthy Enough for HIIT Workouts?
Since HIIT is demanding you need to make sure you are healthy enough to perform these types of workouts. We know that HIIT will help you shed the fat and become fit. However, due to its extreme nature it may not be suitable for everyone.
To make this decision, you must ask yourself a few questions before you start a high intensity interval training program.
Have you talked to your doctor about exercise?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard from a doctor that I shouldn’t exercise. What they do tell me is what types I should do and which ones to avoid because of my medical condition.
HIIT is intense and may not be suitable for you. So, before you start a new exercise program you need to talk to your doctor.
Do you have any past or current injuries?
Again, due to the extreme nature of HIIT, you need to consider past or current injuries. For example, you don’t want to inflame a back or knee injury. Your goal is to lose weight and to get fit; not to aggravate any health conditions.
Do you experience chest pain?
This is very important! If you experience chest pain from time to time, then HIIT is not for you. This type of training will wreak havoc on your breathing and cardiovascular system.
A healthy individual will only feel exhausted. Others less healthy will become breathless and may even collapse. Sad to say but people have died due to excessive training.
Do you have a heart condition or problems with high blood pressure?
Again, these are serious health conditions you must not ignore when trying to get fit. If you do have either of these health issues you are probably on medication. Yes, there are studies that show HIIT can reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure, but are you willing to put your life at risk even more? I sure hope not.
HIIT workouts will only exacerbate the problems. The good news is you have options. You don’t need HIIT to lose weight and get fit, but you do need some type of exercise. Light to moderate intensity cardio and weight training would probably serve you better along with sensible food choices.
Do you experience dizziness or lose your balance?
If you have a history of dizziness, vertigo, or even fainting, HIIT is not for you. The goal of high intensity training is maximum effort. You need to push yourself to the limit doing the most reps as you can. You need to be fast and coordinated; balance and alertness are required.
If you experience any of these health issues you’re better off with cardio that’s moderate and manageable.
Trust your instincts. If you don’t think HIIT is right for you, then don’t do it. For many people, HIIT workouts are great. But for others it’s potentially dangerous.
People want to see results quickly; that’s why they adopt a HIIT protocol. You probably want the same for yourself. But if your state of health dictates HIIT is not for you, that’s okay. You will still reach your goals; it will just take you a little longer. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
For a lot of reasons, HIIT is the perfect fitness vehicle for weight loss. Incredibly, your body continues to burn fat and calories for a full 24 hours after your workout is over. This is not the case with 60 minutes of jogging or cycling.
Whether you need to drop 10 pounds for beach season or you are 50 pounds overweight, turn to efficient and time-saving HIIT exercises for the weight loss results you’re looking for.