High intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is one of the most powerful protocols when it comes to weight loss. In the past, there was a lot of emphasis on slow steady state cardio.
It was the norm to jog or swim or engage in some cardio activity for an hour. Hour long aerobics shows on TV with women in leotards lifting teeny pink dumbbells was seen as an effective way to lose weight.
However, over the past few years, studies and tests have shown that short bursts of high intensity cardio are far more effective than hours of mindless pounding on the treadmill.
So, why is this the case?
The answer is EPOC… excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. When you engage in a short 15 to 20-minute high intensity session (preferably a full-body workout), your body does NOT burn much calories during the workout itself.
However, your metabolic rate gets a huge boost and your body goes into fat burning mode for 10 to 12 hours after the workout is over. So, while you didn’t burn much calories during the workout, overall you have burned a lot more in the hours after that.
This is not the same as slow cardio where you burn calories during the 30 to 60 minutes of training, but once the workout ends, your calorie burning quickly tapers off and stops.
This is why HIIT is far more effective for weight loss. It’s better to burn calories for hours rather than a short time.
Now that we’ve established how effective high intensity training is, let’s look at the downside to it. It is highly taxing on the body.
The problem here is that people overdo it and train with HIIT daily. They’re trying to speed up their results failing to realise that they’re causing burnout and fatigue in the body.
HIIT is meant to stimulate metabolism. Your diet will do the rest. If you’re eating clean and at a caloric deficit, you will lose weight. Trying to rush it by overdoing the training will only cause your body to go into shock and your weight loss journey will plateau.
The best way to use HIIT is to do have a one-day break between every session. You only need to engage in high intensity training three times a week. It’s that potent. On your ‘off days’ it doesn’t mean you do not workout – you’ll just focus on exercises that are less strenuous.
You may wish to do resistance training or attend a yoga or Pilates session. These forms of exercise are a lot easier and you won’t need to exert as much.
If you wish, you can walk for 30 minutes to an hour. There is a time and place for slow cardio. Walking, swimming, cycling, etc. are fine. Do NOT go jogging. Moderate intensity cardio is unnecessary. Slow cardio will do.
Walking is the best for getting light cardio in your routine. It has many benefits and will help to burn off some calories too.
The takeaway point from this article is this – high intensity training is a very powerful tool that should be used in moderation. Approach your weight loss sensibly and avoid trying to rush things.
Eat clean, stay at a caloric deficit and use your training to challenge yourself, but do not abuse yourself.
“Long term consistency trumps short term intensity.” – Bruce Lee
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