What is HIIT?
As a nutritionist there are always food trends we’re trying to keep up with –
- eat more kale
- make chia pudding
- drink green smoothies
and the list goes on and on...
The same goes in the fitness world.
- There’s Crossfit
- There’s Plyometrics
- And there’s HIIT
The last is one of my faves. But what exactly is HIIT?
HIIT = High Intensity Interval Training.
A workout that is short yet intensive. You alternate between high & low intensity exercise(s) or short periods of rest. Benefits include:
- HIIT breaks down our fat stores to use as energy
- HIIT blocks your body from storing more fat for hours after exercising
- HIIT doesn't require an hour of your time (even 5 to 15 minutes will do)
Why HIIT vs. a long run?
- Exercise is a form of stress on your body. Too much (i.e. chronic cardio) can wreak havoc on your health, hormones, and fitness goals.
- Running is more of a catabolic exercise where cortisol breaks down muscle tissues to turn it into sugar (which can get stored as fat).
- If you're running for long distances your body doesn't know if you're running from a tiger. So it retains fat so you can run longer and uses muscle (but muscle is a fat burner!).
According to many experts, we weren't designed to run long distances regularly.
However, humans were built to do two things:
- walk long distances, and
- move quickly for short periods of time (hence HIIT workouts!)
What does a HIIT workout look like?
It’s basically alternating low/moderate intensity exercises with high intensity exercises.
A few examples of how to put HIIT into practice:
- Alternate a 30 second walk with a 30 second sprint. And repeat this 10 times (or longer).
- Do 10 burpees, followed by 30-60 seconds of rest, and then repeat.
- Alternate a leg, arm and full body exercise like squats, jumping jacks and shoulder press.
The key is to get your heartrate up and to a point where you NEED a rest.
It’s more about the QUALITY vs. the quantity.
The next time you exercise remember these 4 keys to burning fat and boosting energy.
BBHH = Breathless + Burning + Heavy + Heat
- Most people assume that if they are breathless and sweating (heat) they've done enough. But they are missing the burn and heavy elements to help release glucose. Result: they burn some fat, but muscle too.
- Others focus on the heavy and burning forgetting about the heat and breathless. Result: they build muscle on top of fat.
With all 4 elements (BBHH), the body knows to release glucose and fat, and put on lean tissue.
You can do this with big body movements where multiple muscles and joints are involved. Example: Do 10 reps of each exercise until you can't anymore.
- Push up
- Shoulder press
- Bent over row
So let’s go make the most out of your next workout without spending precious hours on a treadmill.