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HIIT Training: Lose Weight Like Magic

HIIT-training
You know by now that intervals training is the key to truly successful 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’re doing it over and over it’s a cert your body is sick of it. Which means it ain’t gonna be working as well as it once did.

So let’s take a look at exactly what 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. This stuff is guaranteed to supercharge your cardio and help you burn fat like magic.

Here’s 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 typical HIIT workout would contain 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 your all, you should absolutely not be doing consecutive 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.

Putting It Together

If the end goal is to perform as much total anaerobic exercise as possible then it stands to reason that your rest times will be increasingly reduced as you advance through your HIIT training programs. As a beginner, 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, then this is the ideal place to start for your first 6 week block and will also massively boost your fitness.

Taking things to the next level will obviously further increase your fitness, but it’s also the point at which you’ll really start to chow through the body fat. You’ll be completely burning out your energy with this style of training, 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. Remember 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 and (usually!) final stage is where things get 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 gradually become accustomed to the higher intensity – or you just might find yourself wiping the floor with, well, yourself. Try starting 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’re gonna need it!

Have you tried HIIT training before? What’s your preferred approach or where do you think you could make some changes to maximize your results?

Life is Now. Press Play.

Kat

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26 Comments

  1. Amen, Kat.

    I see so many people at the gym who fall into routines. Not only is it boring and makes them prone to quitting exercise but, as you pointed out, the body acclimates to repetition. Just as a good diet requires weekend planning for the next week’s meals, we should redesign our workouts every week, however modestly.

    Cheers.

  2. Kat Eden says:

    Very useful analogy Mike!

  3. Kloé says:

    That’s so true! Distance is an important part of my training because I am doing races, but when it comes to weight loss, speed and strength, I mix it up. Here in Cleveland, the weather doesn’t always permits to run outside (icy sidewalks…) so I’ll just train inside switching from intervals, hills, etc. Also when I need to cutback on impact I do eliptical trainer and put it on random (interval resistance), which always gets my heart pumping! Great site,

    – Kloé

  4. Carla says:

    I’ve been doing HIIT on and off for a few years now. Now that I’ve joined a gym a few months ago, I’ve been pretty steady at 4 days a week. I use a bike or elliptical because I’m not able to run. I think its about time for me to take a break? What should I do during my breaks? Just weights? I guess I fear not dong any cardio, LOL.

  5. Kat Eden says:

    Hi Carla, try some circuit style weights – 6-8 exercises back to back with no rest. That way you’ll still get that all-out-sweat effect! Kat

  6. Carla says:

    @Kat – Wow, I need to research ow to do that. Thanks for the tip!

  7. Clare says:

    Hi Kat, Running is not possible for me either. The impact causes problems with my back, I have scoliolsis)and I don’t belong to a gym (Cant afford it at the moment), but I do have hand weights and a lymphaciser trampoline. Do you have any suggestions on a HIIT workout with that eqipment? Thanks, Clare!

  8. Kat Eden says:

    You can do any weight exercise in a HIIT format – best is something like squats with a dumbell press, or lunges with same. Skipping is also great if you can get a rope!

  9. kim says:

    I love your article in the latest fitness first mag about a leaner you. I have watched many of the trainers and been trained by a couple at my gym and i haven’t found one who fits me, some are quite new and inexperienced. I know it’s difficult but can you recommend any from the Wynnum gym who train in HIIT training the way you described. Both my husband and myself are very time poor and are focused but not getting the results we would like from our workouts. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Kat says:

      Thanks Kim 🙂
      I don’t know anyone at your club, I’m in Melbourne so not much help sorry! The best thing to do would be to email the Personal Training manager, the address should be wynnumptm@fitnessfirst.com.au, or just ask for them at reception. They’ll know what the trainer’s specialties are. Ask if there’s a BioSignature practitioner there! It’s a long shot, but you never know. In the meantime, just start trialling some of the techniques yourself. It helps if you have someone to push you, so maybe you and your husband could take it in turns to motivate each other!
      Kat

  10. Dave says:

    Kat,
    Great post on HIIT. I’m a huge fan of this approach. I generally like to vary my routine a bit, but I like to do a 15 second sprint, 45 second jog for 8 minutes, then do 15-20 minutes of steady state cardio and then do 1 minute of fast jogging with 1 minute of slow jogging. It’s really helped me lose a lot of fat.
    Dave

    1. Kat says:

      Thanks Dave, that’s great to hear. I love how there are so many different ways to do HIIT – and they all work!

  11. Chunky Fat Aerobic Instructor Syndrome?

    So true! That is such a common sight these days…and very funny. I come from the school of thought that I will only learn something from someone who is getting the results that I want. I am shocked when people are taking classes from someone in worse shape than them.

    HIIT works extremely well. This is easy to see by simply comparing a typical spin instructor vs a typical aerobic instructor. I actually like doing HIIT best on a Stepmill. There is a reason those machines are always available.

    You make a convincing argument for HIIT. Good stuff.

    -George D

  12. You should increase when it becomes easier. If at 8 reps you aren’t feeling anything than you should bump it up. I personally think you should increase the number of reps you do and not the amount of weight. I spoke with a personal trainer about this and he said since I’m a girl and didn’t want to add bulk than increasing rep amount and not weight would help to tone rather than build.

    1. Kat says:

      Alphonse, that is one of the WORST myths of the fitness industry. Being a personal trainer does not mean anything these days considering the course takes just a couple of weeks. Certification is no assurance of quality! Lifting light weights for high reps will NEVER help you burn fat on an ongoing basis.

  13. alanna says:

    hey:) i think the idea of interval training is awesome. i m just wonderin if your referring to running or biking? i ve been trying it with a stationary exercise bike, but lately i ve been wondering if i could do the same with a treadmill. which is better?
    -alanna

    1. Kat says:

      Either, so long a you vary it!

  14. spider says:

    hey there just been searching around the net for all things intervals and found your site. Its cool, and i love your HIIT article, totally agree with you and I keep saying myself more is not better, better is better.

    Love seeing articles like this. Glad I found your site.

    spider

    1. Kat says:

      Thanks Spider, nice of you to comment!

  15. rama says:

    Hi,
    I have been struggling to lose about 6- 8 klios for a long time. I used to be 62 kilos, that is when i got into aerobics, and in 3 months I was around 57/58. Although i looked very fit , for I was also regularly doing my weight training too. I love doing both, and also love doing yoga. But none of my efforts could melt the fat around my stomach, though i could almost do all the ab exercises without any problems, and I knew so many of them.
    I also kept reading that the only way to lose fat , was to include more aerobics, and I started doing more of it, like 30- 40 mins of skipping along with some aerobics routines too, and I never gave up my weight training routine. I had switched to eating everything brown, along with vegetables and proteins, and I am a pure vegetarian. But still I found no results, although I always got comments that I look at least 10 years younger than my actual age.
    Then i hit the age called the beginning of the 50s, with weight gradually increasing, and finally stopping with great difficulty in 67.5 klios, that too with my regular exercise, and healthy diet routine. I know that i am at an age where things are not in my control, although i am perfectly healthy, I now look fat.
    I have joined a gym, and had asked them to give me circuit training , in which on certain days both cardio and weight training is there and on other days only cardio and abs are there. They never give me more than 40 mins of cardio a day, which i find a little less because of my preconceived idea of believing that only with more cardio i can lose weight soon. So in a day i try to do atleast 50-55 mins. of different cardios like cycling, treadmill and the cross trainer, and on weight training days I do double the repetitons of what they have given me, and also try to do minimum of different cardio for 45- 50 mins.
    One month is going to be over, and I see only some inches lost in my back, chest and arms, but no great shakes, and no weight loss.
    In the treadmill i do running for 1 min and 1 min of rest, and i do this atleat 7 times in a 20 mins worktime, and this i do only twice a week and on other days I increase the incline/ decline and walk fast and recover kind of workout and also some times i just walk regular with no incline at all.
    As a principle, I seem to be doing a lot of different things, adding little changes in my gm time.
    However there is no big change in my body, i am feeling as fit and healthy as ever without of course the weight loss , which seems to be eluding me for ever.
    In one or two days they would be changing my workout schedule to a different routine, I am wondering whether I should ask them to put me on no cardio, and only weights kind of routine, what do you have to say?
    I would really appreciate your advise in this matter.
    Sorry for the long post .
    Rama.

    1. Kat says:

      Hi Rama,

      That’s ok! I know how confusing it can be when you’re not sure what is right for you. I remember when I only had to trust in the programs my gym gave me and sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t.

      If your background is a lot of cardio yes I would do just weights – decently heavy lifting – for a month. But include 1-2 weight based circuit sessions per week. Your timing is great as tomorrow I am releasing my Training Plan which will have everything you need to know for great results from training. Everything!

      Good luck Rama!

      Kat

  16. priya says:

    kate. i am using elliptical for hiit. i use high resistance for 30 sec and 30 sec rest. i have noticed my thighs are bulking. i don’t know what thats happening. i don;t like running as it causes me joint issues. my work out routine is

    30 sec- resistance- 10
    30 sec- resistnce 4

    my heart rate goes very up but thighs are bulking. my pants are becoming tight. diet is properly under control. what do i do? please help

    1. Kat says:

      Elliptical can be a lot of resistance. Try kettlebell swings, skipping or boxing!

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