If I were to say to you, that you could spend less time working out and burn more fat would you be whooping and hollering with joy? I know I certainly was, this was like sweet music to my ears as I had spent a good 10 years of my life believing that in order to stay in shape through exercise you had to do at least 30 minutes cardio and it wasn’t until after the 30 minute window that you would start to burn fat…TOTES old school way of thinking and now there is SO much evidence to show that this is not the case. THANK GOODNESS!
If you are a busy person like me, I am sure that you do not have time or any inclination to spend 1-2 hours sweating it out on a treadmill 3 – 4 times per week. Would you be shocked to know that, in fact that could be causing you to GAIN WEIGHT rather than lose it…shock horror!!
With High Intensity Interval Training (AKA HIIT training) you can wave goodbye to the long cardio sessions and replace them with 15 minute blasts of HIIT. How exciting is that – to think that you can whack out a quick HIIT session and be done by 8am before going to work!
What is HIIT?
Watch this video! This shows me doing a 15 minute HIIT blast. (Look out for the comedy trip up the stairs!)
All you do is warm up for 5 minutes – jumping jacks, jogging on the spot, dancing around like a nutter to your favourite piece of music (my personal fave!)
Take the time to stretch and then you are ready to begin
Do an exercise like sprinting, high knee jogging, running up and down the stairs, burpees etc for 30-45 seconds (the fitter you are the longer you can do) at the highest intensity you can possibly manage.
Rest for 30-60 seconds to bring your heart rate down again.
Repeat 6-10 times depending on your fitness and bobs your uncle – workout over in 15 minutes!
Now BE WARNED – although this is a really short workout, it is a KILLER! If you see how I literally collapse at the end of this video you will see that it is SIMPLE, but not EASY! You should be totally exhausted at the end of the workout
Why does HIIT work?
If you are anything like me, you are like the little child that always asks ‘but why?’ My poor mum!! She must have been CONSTANTLY trying to find the answer to my inquisitive little ‘but why’s’! For you ‘why’ people, here is the answer:
When you work at high intensity, you burn more total calories per pound of body weight.
HIIT training boosts growth hormone levels and testosterone which will stimulate muscle growth (don’t freak out ladies, you will NOT turn into hulk I promise! It just means you look more toned and burn more calories as you have more muscle).
HIIT training stimulates the body’s metabolism throughout the day – what is known as the afterburn effect. It is not how many calories you burn during the workout (little tip: STOP looking at the calorie counters on the treadmill or cross trainer, COMPLETE waste of time!) This means you continue to burn fat for UP TO 48 HOURS after working out! INSANE!
HIIT training helps your cardiovascular system as well as your anaerobic system.
HIIT training makes you more sensitive to insulin which is GOOD! Insulin is released in the body in response to a rise in blood sugar. It takes the excess sugar out of your bloodstream and stores it in muscle and liver cells as glycogen for fuel when needed. If there is still too much sugar in the bloodstream, it gets converted into fat and then locked in your fat cells so you cannot even tap into it to use it for energy. When your cells are more sensitive to the effects of insulin, it means you need less insulin to get the blood sugar into your cells which means less chance of becoming insulin resistant and less chance of sugar being converted into fat and locked away.
HIIT training creates new mitochondria. Mitochondria are little powerhouses in each of the cells that make up your body. They are responsible for turning the food you eat or have stored into energy. Quite simply the more mitochondria you have, the more efficiently your body uses the calories you consume.
If all of that isn’t a reason to step away from the treadmill and add some HIIT training into your workout regime along with lifting weights, I do not know what is!
If you need one more reason why doing masses of chronic cardio is not the way forward here it is.
Chronic cardio (by chronic I mean running etc for 30-60mins multiple times a week) can cause an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. In fact all exercise does, and this can be a good thing in small amounts. The problem arises when there is a constant amount of cortisol being pumped out and inflammation happening in your body. This is damaging to your body and causes fat storage around the middle. So if you are running, running, running and running and notice the muffin top increasing, it could be time to change it up and do some HIIT instead.