Let’s first define what high intensity interval training workouts are and why they’re so beneficial for weight loss. Interval training is a type of exercise that alternates between intense exercise for short periods of time followed by a rest or recovery period. This type of exercise is awesome for anyone looking to get in shape, stay in shape, or to just get healthy!
You can get in and out of an interval session within minutes while burning fat, balancing hormones, boosting metabolism, and improving cardiovascular health. The more intensely you exercise, the shorter your exercise sessions need to be.
As we age our hearts and lungs decrease in size. Interval training can prevent this age-related atrophy while increasing stroke volume in the heart, thereby increasing its strength and efficiency. This results in a lowered heart-attack risk and decreased blood pressure. Other names for this type of exercise include High-Intensity Interval Training or (HIIT), Burst Training, or The Tabata Method.
How To Do Intervals
Start by exercising intensely for 20-30 seconds. Go all out when you perform your bursts. Follow this intense 20-30 second period with one to two minutes of walking slowly to allow your heart rate to decrease. Ideally, you’ll want to perform eight sets of this burst/recovery period, but do what you can according to your fitness level. Performing this exercise every other day is optimal.
Have you ever noticed the differences in physique between marathon runners and sprinters? Sprinters don’t lose muscle like runners do because they are exercising intensely for only short periods of time with recovery periods in between. Additionally, they aren’t spiking their cortisol levels, which forces the body into a catabolic state.
Too much endurance training leads to elevated cortisol levels, which results in a breakdown of muscle fiber, thereby, defeating the purpose of your training as muscle is a crucial component of a healthy metabolism. Sustained levels of cortisol also does a number on the endocrine system, and that’s just the beginning of its negative effects.
You’re In, You’re Out – You’re Done!
Hands down, interval training is the most time-effective type of exercise there is considering the time factor, the hormonal-balancing effects, and the increase in cardiovascular health. These facts make interval training my favorite type of exercise.
With HIIT you can incorporate any type of movement that you are comfortable with. Shake it up and do something different every session – that way you won’t get bored. But since it only requires 15 minutes a session, boredom should not be an issue.
It’s easy to stay motivated because it requires so little time, and your motivation will soar once you start seeing results. Say goodbye to long hours in the gym and boring workouts. Those types of exercise can be in the past if you no longer enjoy them, are not seeing results, or have just lost motivation.
Watch this video if you want to learn more about interval training. It demonstrates The Tabata Method where the bursts are every 20 seconds followed by a 10-second recovery period. Do this method only if you are very fit!
Engage In Activities You Enjoy
On the days you don’t do HIIT, do something that feeds your soul like walking your dog, dancing, yoga, Pilates, or stretching.
With intervals, you’ll get the benefits of longer workouts without the time drain, and you’ll burn more calories than if you engaged in continuous exercise. And the best part, is you’ll continue to burn calories after your workout due to the intensity.
Another great thing about this form of exercise, is it only needs to be done every other day so we are talking 45 minutes of exercise per week folks. Anyone can do this to optimize their fitness, maintain or lose weight, and improve overall health!
Restricting food for at least one hour after your workout will allow you to take advantage of the hormonal-balancing effects, such as lowered insulin levels, and increased Human Growth Hormone – a double whammy on the fat-burning front.
High Intensity Interval Training Workouts
Get creative when doing intervals – remember anything that requires a burst of energy that lasts around 20-30 seconds, and a recovery period of around two minutes to allow your heart rate to come down works! Walking slowly during this rest period is a good strategy.
- Sprinting – make sure you have good knees and shoes
- Riding a stationary bike
- Jumping rope
- Running in place
- Using resistance bands
- Lifting weights
- Walking – just make sure your bursts are intense
Benefits Of Interval Training
- Time Effective
- Great for fat burning
- Preserves muscle
- Burns a lot of calories
- Boosts metabolism
- Increases HGH and testosterone
- Easy on the adrenal glands
- Reduces insulin levels
- Prevents atrophy of heart and lungs
- No equipment is necessary
- Reduces blood pressure
- Improves fat to muscle ratio
Incorporating intervals into your fitness regime is a no brainer. Because of the intensity variation, you’ll reap the benefits of both aerobic and anaerobic training. When you reach around 90% of your VO2max, which is an indicator of cardiovascular health, certain hormones and neurotransmitters increase, such as, HGH, testosterone, and endorphins. These are all anabolic hormones and don’t cause the breakdown of tissue as do other forms of endurance training.
You can start this program at any fitness level just slowly increase your burst intensity, and number of intervals over time. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start out with three or four intervals, and increase as your fitness improves. Intervals work your fast-twitch muscle fibers which is awesome for increased power, strength, and stamina. What are you waiting for?
I know it’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that you can exercise smarter, not longer or harder. Over exercising can backfire pretty quickly, but intervals are something you can maintain over time. A high intensity interval training workout, paired with a nutritious diet, is one of the best ways to lose weight and keep it off.
What is your favorite form of exercise? Let me know in the comments:)
Disclaimer: This article is strictly for informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice.