High-intensity interval training workouts use the idea of putting in maximal cardiovascular effort for short periods of time. Typically, when people run on a treadmill, ride a stationary bike, or exercise on an elliptical, they choose a time increment, typically 30 to 60 minutes, and then exercise at a steady pace for the selected amount of time.
In high-intensity interval training, also called HIIT, people work out for just 20 to 30 minutes. Within that 20-30 minute HIIT workout, the routine is divided into a 3-minute warm-up followed by intervals lasting 30 seconds to 1 minute in which you run, bike, or pedal the elliptical at your maximum physical effort . You then get a 1-minute recovery period before doing the next 30-second all-out interval of your HIIT workout. Continue your exercise in this manner allowing 3 minutes at the end for a cool down.
Why is it more effective than the traditional long-duration, steady-rate cardio program? First, during high-intensity intervals, you use different types of muscles that burn more energy than the muscles used during a steady-rate cardio workout. With the constant change of pace, your body doesn’t have a chance to adapt to any type of exercise and therefore burns more energy. One of the biggest benefits of HIIT training is that during the recovery period after leaving the gym, your body continues to burn calories while it repairs itself. So you’re essentially burning calories during times when you’re not even exercising. This is what makes HIIT workouts so effective for weight loss. You can see this training philosophy in action if you’ve ever watched popular television. show the biggest loser. You also hear about HIIT workouts when celebrities explain how they were able to lose a massive amount of weight for a movie role.
HIIT training workouts are also effective in helping to add lean muscle mass when the workouts are combined with a quality high protein diet. This is evident if you have ever seen the difference between the body compositions of a sprinter vs. that of a marathon runner. Sprinters have very defined musculature because during training they use a different type of muscle fiber called a fast twitch muscle fiber. The body uses this type of muscle for activities that require short bursts of muscle contraction. Slow twitch muscles are the opposite. The body uses these types of muscle fibers for activities that have a steady pace for long periods of time. Use this training method and you will surely get results.
The bottom line is that unless you’re training for a long-distance run or marathon, you don’t need to do long-duration, low-intensity cardio. If your goals are adding lean muscle mass, improving cardiovascular health, then HIIT training workouts for weight loss are the way to go.