Heavy workout phases that alternate with short periods of rest – that is “high-intensity interval training”. A HIIT workout not only makes you sweat quickly, but also effectively increases your fat burning. HIIT has advanced from a trend to serious endurance training that can be found in many workout plans.
A HIIT training consists of several intervals, which in turn are divided into two phases:
- Highly intensive phase: Here you train for about 15 to 60 seconds up to your physical limit.
- Recovery phase: With lighter exercises or a slow pace, you allow your body to regenerate two to three times as long.
With HIIT training, it is important to keep your pulse high and let it drop in between. Your maximum heart rate (HR max) should be 80-90% for the high-intensity intervals. In the short, active recovery breaks with lighter exercises, it should then drop to 50-60%.
It is important that your body can really regenerate itself during the recovery phases, so that you can get going again with the intense intervals. However, you shouldn’t overdo it with the high-intensity load phases, otherwise you can quickly get into overtraining and not only your performance but also your health will suffer.
Slowly get to your limits
Go slowly to your test yourself and your limits slowly so you know how far you can go with HIIT. HIIT beginners should start with low loads and longer rest periods to get their bodies used to the strain. As a beginner, you shouldn’t expect more than eight intervals. Professionals can increase the number of intervals and shorten the recovery periods.
Overall, a HIIT workout only takes 10 to 20 minutes (without warm-up and cool-down). This is sufficient to make you sweat properly and to trigger the afterburn effect (see below). And the time saving is also one of the advantages of HIIT training. Another advantage is that you can do the workouts practically anywhere: whether at home, in the park or in the gym – you can work out in high-intensity intervals almost anywhere. However, since HIIT training is associated with a high level of stress, you should definitely plan enough days in your training plan for regeneration and not train more than two to three times a week
Example of a HIIT workout
There are hardly any limits to the composition of your HIIT workout. You can do exercises like burpees, mountain climbers, squats or lunges in a HIIT manner. Here are two examples of how the intervals can be structured:
- HIIT for beginners: warm up well. Then up to eight intervals of 15 seconds sprint and 45 seconds of easy jogging.
- Advanced HIIT: Warm up well. Then eight or more intervals of 30 seconds of push-ups and 20 seconds of jumping jacks.
If you want to do your HIIT training even more effectively, it makes sense that you get yourself a HIIT interval timer. Such timers are available as devices in stores or in the form of smartphone apps. You can program the timer individually to the intervals of your HIIT training and thus determine the seconds of your workout and your breaks as well as the number of your rounds.
Burn fat with HIIT
The popularity of HIIT has one main reason: You burn fat very effectively with this type of training – much more effectively than with conventional endurance training. It works like this:
Due to the special and high-intensity workouts and the constant alternation between stress and relief phases, your metabolism is exposed to high stress. Your body releases more hormones, especially the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. These increase fat breakdown in adipose tissue – called “lipolysis”. On the other hand, a training plan with a constant level of stress cannot stimulate the release of hormones sufficiently. But it gets even better: A HIIT workout triggers an afterburn effect that helps you burn calories long after your workout.
The afterburn effect
When you exercise, your body needs more oxygen than it normally does, because the body needs oxygen to generate energy. You can tell that when you exercise, your pulse, your breathing rate and your metabolic activity increase, which means that your body warms up. The rule is: the more intensely and harder you train, the more oxygen you use.
But at the beginning of physical exertion, figuratively speaking, the lungs rise more slowly than the rest of the body. The result is that the body must first meet its increased oxygen demand from its own reserves. This creates a so-called “oxygen deficit”, i.e. the body slips into the red when it comes to oxygen.
The body cannot eliminate this deficit during training, because it needs all of the newly absorbed oxygen directly to generate energy. So he only eliminates the oxygen deficit after the workout. In addition, he then takes in a certain amount of oxygen more than what he actually lacked. This is called “excess postexercise oxygen consumption” or EPOC – or simply: the afterburn effect.
The body draws this additional oxygen for a reason: After training, many processes take place that require energy. For example, the muscles’ energy reserves have to be replenished or the nervous system and metabolism regenerated. After a HIIT workout, more calories will be burned than normal for many hours. The great bonus for you: Most of this energy comes from fat cells.
This diet goes well with HIIT workout
For an optimal HIIT workout for burning fat, it is good to pay attention to your diet, especially two hours before and during your workout. You should reduce your carbohydrate intake during this time window, as carbohydrates cause insulin to be released and insulin in turn inhibits lipolysis.
After exercising, you should consume a moderate amount of carbohydrates to promote rapid recovery. You should also eat a lot of protein, such as those found in lean meat, fish, dairy products, or protein shakes.
Lose weight with HIIT – this is how it works:
- More movement through interval training
- Drink a lot
- Reduce total caloric intake
- Avoid carbohydrate intake right before exercise
- Consume plenty of protein and moderate carbohydrates after exercise