It is your friendly Peak Condition intern here (me, Jonathan) posting on the blog! I’m attempting to make this post informative but not too heavy.
Imagine the perfect workout. It would be quick, easy, and get great results right? Well, there is no easy workout that gets great results but there IS a workout that is quick, gets great results, and will bust your butt in the process. It is called interval training, specifically High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It is basically a strategy of alternating high intensity exercise followed by recovery. For example, if you perform as many reps of body weight squats as you can in 20 seconds and then follow that with 15 seconds of rest, and repeat – that is an example of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The idea is that you expose your body to an intensity it can’t maintain, and then allow yourself a short pause to catch your breath. For everyone from athletes to Biggest Winners (Peak Condition’s team weight loss challenge), and anyone looking for an intense workout, HIIT has a lot to offer.
Until recently, long aerobic workouts, consisting of 30+ minutes of cardio, have been promoted as the best method to reduce fat. While they are definitely a good way to exercise, HIIT has been shown to burn fat more effectively as well as increase your aerobic capacity and muscular strength, with better results compared to steady-state cardio. Additionally, HIIT workouts train muscular strength and speed while participating in steady state cardio (running or cycling) doesn’t. Here is a look at some HIIT methods.
1. Tabata Training: It is a whole body workout that really only consists of 4 minutes of training. It is short and quick but you will be sweating by the end of it. More importantly, it has been shown to actually improve both cardiovascular and muscular fitness. Below is an example Tabata workout, but you can do the same protocol of 20 seconds intense exercise followed by 10 seconds rest, doing any other full body exercise such as squat jumps, plank pushups, or burpees. Go ahead give it a try!
2. The Trapp Study Protocol: I included this because it is from an actual study proving weight loss using a HIIT method. The workout starts by 8 seconds of sprinting on a stationary bike, followed by 12 seconds of easy pedaling, repeating this for 20 minutes. In the study, the group doing this three times per week lost significantly more weight than a group that biked for twice as long at a consistent pace. Although the HIIT workout lasted half the time, it was more effective for weight loss. You could replicate this workout on a running track, elliptical or by alternating exercises such as squat jump, kettle bell swing, burpees, plank pushups, etc.
There are a variety of other HIIT protocols out there but these are two protocols that I specifically researched. I always think it is important to have verifiable information because, it seems, so many in the fitness industry pull their facts out of a hat.
In short, High Intensity Interval Training can be a smart training alternative to just running or biking. The workouts are shorter, more intense, and the payoff can result in greater weight loss and greater cardiovascular & muscular improvement.