The previous post explained why High Intensity Interval Training was the quickest way to burn fat, so now you probably want to hear about my preferred HIIT workouts… OK 🙂
Examples of HIIT workouts
There are hundreds of HIIT workouts; every personal trainer has his preferred one. I will only mention my preferred ones here, with emphasis on intensity if you aim at HIIT: many persons think that they are exercising with high intensity because they are running a bit faster than usual 🙂
Sorry… Below your max… is not your max! Being slightly out of breath doesn’t mean that you are anaerobic. It’s still Interval Training, but not High Intensity Interval Training 🙂
Build Your Own Workout Plan
If you want to build your own plan, keep in mind that the usual ratio between full intensity and low intensity is 2:1, for example, 30 seconds of sprint followed by 15 seconds of slow running.
We mention running here, but any classical aerobic workout can be adapted to Interval Training: running has my preference but rowing, cycling, weight-training or CrossFit are fine too. The high intensity parts should be at your maximum exertion, for instance short sprints at full speed that you try to maintain during a fixed time and which leave you *totally* exhausted.
My Preferred HIIT Workout for Beginners
We all have to start somewhere, don’t we? 🙂
Here is my recommendation.
1) Warm-up: 5 minutes – don’t skip it!
2) Max intensity exercise: the core part obviously. Sprint for 30 seconds, then walk or run slowly for 60 to 90 seconds. It’s far from the 2:1 ratio, even from 1:1, but believe me, this could be the “shortest” seconds of your life 🙂 In the beginning, even jogging instead of walking during the recovery phase is a challenge… if you did it right!
Start with 4 repetitions and increase step by step, up to 8 or 10.
3) Cool-down (at the end of your exercise, not between sprints!): jogging at low pace, 4 to 5 minutes – don’t skip it either!
Based on your physical condition, try to do 2 or 3 (max!) HIIT workouts per weeks for 8 weeks, and then give your body a break for one or two weeks.
Next Level: The HIIT Pyramid
You will love it 🙂
1) Warm-up: 3 to 5 minutes.
2) Climbing up the pyramid: high intensity runs lasting longer with each repetition: 30 seconds, then 45, 60 and finally 90 seconds.
3) Recovery time: always 1 minute at low intensity, but don’t exceed 1 minute even if you’re exhausted. Remember that the goal is to maximize your total anaerobic time. Your heart rate will decrease a bit, just enough to allow another run at max heart rate, without oxygen supply to your cells.
4) Going down the pyramid: High intensity runs that decrease with each repetition: 60 seconds, 45 and the last one, 30 seconds.
5) Cool-down: the best part 🙂 5 minutes.
Any Alternatives to HIIT Workouts?
Yes, a famous one is called Fartlek which comes from Sweden and means « speed play ».
Fartlek sessions last 45 minutes to one hour and the difference with HIIT is that there is no fixed time for maximal intensity and recovery. How come? Well, imagine that you want to surprise your body so that it will be stressed and burn fat as never before! I remember that we had such torture sessions at school and we all hated it 🙂 Our teacher was using a whistle to let us know when to sprint, when to recover, and for what period of time. Honestly, a few years later (!) I have to admit that this is probably the best way to use Fartlek: if you follow the instructions of a teacher or friend, your brain doesn’t know what will happen next and believe me, when your brain starts panicking, your body is ready to burn anything for energy 🙂
Similar to Ephedrine
By the way, Fartlek makes me think of ephedrine: in both cases your body has a “fight-or-flight” response where adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol are released into your bloodstream. In fact, in many sports you can go Fartlek without knowing it. Take football or soccer for instance: you don’t know when and how long you will have to sprint. So if you want to brake the routine in your HIIT workouts, find a weight loss buddy and try Fartlek together! It’s fun and *really* effective at fat burn.
As you know now, HIIT is a killer when it comes to fat loss.
But clearly it is not recommended to people having a poor physical condition or diseases, especially heart diseases of course. The risk of injuries is higher, and workouts of this nature (high intensity leaving you exhausted again and again) require strong physical and psychological resources.
If you think that the bar is too high, no worry: start with low or moderate aerobic exercises. You will have huge health benefits, as confirmed by this medical study. You will lose weight, especially if you add an EC stack to your cardio training, and later you might consider trying a short HIIT session (no more ephedrine in that case!). That’s exactly what I did, years ago 🙂
Remember, the name of the game here is not “just” losing weight, it is to lose fat (not weight) and to keep it off definitely.
Keep in touch,