What Is High Intensity Interval Training?Because most moms are extremely busy and overwhelmed, the desire for fast results in the least amount of time is very appealing. Over the past couple of years, something called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been gaining a lot more attention and popularity, and for good reason. (source) HIIT involves short yet intense bursts of exercise followed by various bouts of lower intensity (or recovery) sessions in structured and timed ratios. These workouts are extremely effective in torching calories because of something called, Exercise Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption.” (source). Because of higher intensity workouts require an extreme amount of oxygen and energy during the workout, the body requires even more oxygen AFTER the workout session is over to help retutn to it’s natural state. This means your body is a calorie burning machine for up to 48 hours AFTER the workout session is over. Basically you are forcing your body to work at burning calories when you are not actively working out! There is a direct relationship to the amount of calories used during your workout and the amount used after. But keep in mind, in order to achieve the greatest “after burn effect”, you must go hard during your workouts. This is what I call trading “Quantity” for “Quality”.
Does High Intensity Interval Training Burn Belly Fat?Most people I have worked with think the best way to burn belly fat is by doing more ab exercises. You can crunch or plank you’re little heart away but this doens’t keep the belly fat at bay! (a little rhyme for you to remember) While training your core is very important for overall stability and injury prevention, you can do all the ab exercises in the world but if you don’t have an overall reduction in body fat, you will never see those six pack abs. Burning body fat comes down to reducing calories consumed and increasing calories burned. Because HIIT training turns your body into a calorie burning machine, it is an excellent training method to burn overall body fat, including belly fat.
How to Do Interval TrainingThe most simple way to explain HIIT training is alternating back and forth between “easy” to “hard”. You can do this with many different exercise such as cardio, weight training, and strength training. You can stick to intervals with just just one exercise like running or spinning. Or you can combine cardio with weights (my personal favorite way to do HIIT) for an even more challenging (but fun) workout. To track your intervals, I recommend using an app on your phone. I use a customizable Gymboss Timer app on my phone. The easiest way to experiment with HIIT is with cardio exercises like running, riding a bike or even burpees. Simply sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds, rest for 30-60 seconds then sprint again. That’s it! My favorite part about HIIT training is that it can be tailored to almost anyones exercise level and ability and it requires little to no equipment. Repeat for about 10-20 minutes and you just did a great interval workout. The first couple times you play around with HIIT workouts, you may have to take rests during your work intervals but you will be surprised how quickly your body adapts.
How Often Can I Do HIIT?When you see how great the results are from HIIT, I know you’ll be tempted to want to do the workouts daily. However, because these workouts can be very demanding on your body, I usually only recommend doing them 3-4 days a week. These workouts can also be done alone or after a strength training workout session. For example, sometimes I will lift weights, then do a 20 minute HIIT session. Other times when I am pushed for time, I will just do a quick HIIT session that combines both weights and cardio. The most important thing to remember is that your body needs rest to recover. Not allowing enough rest can actually stall your results.
Do I Need To Warm Up Before HIIT?Warming up your body prior to any exercise is important to help get the body primed for movement and prevent injury. However, most people think of stretching as a warm up to exercise. While stretching may feel good, an effective pre-workout warm up includes movements that do exactly that, “warm up” the body, mobilize joints and get blood flowing. You can get a good warm up in as little as 5-10 minutes. Start with this simple warm-up before your HIIT workouts below. Repeat each movement for 30 seconds with no rest in between. Continue for 5 minutes.
- Jumping Jacks
- Inch warms
- Butt Kicks
- Mountain Climbers
- Glute Bridges
7 Benefits Of HIIT That Will Change Your Perspective of Weight Loss Forever
1. Lose Fat, Not MuscleMost traditional, steady state cardio sessions are known for actually decreasing muscle mass. This is not good for weight loss! HIIT training burns more calories than steady state, lower intensity workouts. (Source)
2. Burn More Calories All DayEvery workout burns calories. However, because of the higher intensity of HIIT workouts, your body continues to burn more calories after your workout is over. Just 10 minutes of HIIT training can burn as many calories as a 30 minute, slower paced session on a treadmill. If you are short on time, the key is to upping your workout intensity to make your body burn more calories when you are not actually exercising.
3. Time EfficientMost of us dread long, boring workouts that deliver very little results. And if we don’t see results quickly enough, then the chances of staying consistent with a workout routine is very unlikely. As a busy mom with very little time to spare, HIIT training is by far my favorite method of training. And not only because of it’s time saving benefits, but also because it has given me the best results in all my years of working out! Studies have shown that you can get similar results from 12 minutes of cycling sprint intervals three days a week as you would from a moderate intensity cycling five times per week. This means quick, 10 minute HIIT workouts can really add up to some serious results.
4. Reduce Boredom and OverwhelmWhen exercise feels time consuming and boring, the chances of sticking with it long enough to see results are slim. I get asked all the time what best workouts are for losing weight fast. My answer is always, “whatever you will stick to long enough to see and maintain the results you are looking for.” Higher intensity workouts can be more enjoyable, boost mood and reduce perceived exertion better than moderate intensity, continuous exercise sessions. HIIT workouts offers a sense of accomplishment after every HIIT INTERVAL which improves how we perceive the workout. It also provides a recovery period to look forward to as you push through each high intensity interval.
5. No Equipment, No Excuses!One of my favorite parts about HIIT training is that you don’t need equipment to get a great workout in. This means you can be spontaneous and squeeze in a quick, calorie burning sweat sessions anytime, anywhere with little to no equipment. Burpees, jumping jacks, jump squats….the bodyweight possibilities are endless!
6. Boost MetabolismThe after burn effect of HIIT can actually boost your metabolism for up to 48 hours after your workout. However, keep in mind that this is not the green light to eat whatever you want. In order to see significant and consistent weight loss, you must remain in a caloric deficit.
7. Improve Overall HealthHIIT workouts not only help you reduce body weight but they also help lower blood glucose levels, improve blood pressure and reduce stress. As someone who has spent years learning to have a healthy relationship with my body, I firmly stand by the fact that loving our body at any size and being healthy at any size are not interchangeable. You can be happy at any size but you cannot be healthy at any size. HIIT training is one of the best ways to improve overall health.
8. Possibilities are EndlessThe unlimited and endless options of HIIT workouts will ensure you never feel bored working out again. Having variety of exercises and interval ratios not only maintains enthusiasm during your workouts but it also helps prevent reaching dreaded weight loss plateaus.
How To Create Your Own HIIT WorkoutOne of the best parts about HIIT workouts is that they can be catered to any fitness level. Start with level 1 or 2 if you are unsure what fitness level you fall in and work your way up. Continue practicing the workouts and see your body getting stronger each time you do the workouts. And remember, the harder you work during your workouts, the more calories you burn after! If you still find HIIT training confusing or challenging, Tone in 10 will teach you everything you need to know about losing weight and reshaping your body in as little as 10 minutes a day. Have fun and as always, if you have any medical concerns or conditions, please consult with your health care provider! And sharing is caring! If you found this helpful, don’t forget to share with someone who would also love to try HIIT training!
Brooke is a certified Prenatal and Postnatal Exercise Specialist with a Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science. She is also a mom of 3 girls with more than 15 years of experience in health and fitness. Brooke’s goal at Struggles of a Fit Mom is to help motivate, educate and inspire other busy mamas who struggle with finding time, energy and motivation to take care of themselves in the chaos of motherhood.