If you are like most people, you haven’t seen the inside of a gym in a while. You also shudder at the thought of weight machines and treadmills. Actually, you might be a strong athlete already and are experiencing a plateau. Whatever the case, we all want the same thing: fast results! Who doesn’t, right? Well, what does science say? Don’t we have to run endless hours or lift weights all the time? Actually, no. In fact, exercise is not the answer. The TYPE of exercise is. It turns out that high intensity interval training (HIIT) is what you are looking for. While it is still exercise and is hardly a walk in the park, it gives you the fastest route to success.1
What is HIIT?
Before we get into HIIT, let’s talk about what getting in shape means. What we’re talking about is improving muscle definition, overall physique and for some, losing excess weight. In short, walking upstairs doesn’t take your breath away! Now for HIIT. As it’s name suggest, HIIT workouts consist of short, but powerful bursts of intense cardio. Intense being the emphasis. Science suggests that these sort of workouts give you the best results in the shortest amount of time. Plus, they are particularly effective against diseases such as diabetes.2 In fact, you can get the same results from a regular cardio workout (like jogging) in as little as 1/3 of the amount time.
On study evaluated 27 people who were split into two groups. The first did regular cardio training and the other HIIT. This went on for several weeks and at the end, the HIIT group had lost 3 times more bodyfat. That is incredibly significant! But the real story is that they only used about 1/2 as many calories to do it. In other words, the HIIT group exerted 1/2 as much energy while burning 3 times more fat.3 It might seem impossible, but again, it was the TYPE of exercise that made the difference.
So think about the results of this study for a moment. Let’s say you are currently running/jogging 3 times per week for an hour each. You could theoretically see roughly the same results in 30 minutes of HIIT per week! Now, don’t think is the easy way out though. HIIT workouts are meant to be exactly what they suggest: high intensity. Nevertheless, you can accomplish far more in far less time.
How to Do It
Now, you are probably wondering what to do. First of all, HIIT is not some new type of workout, it includes all the old stuff, but done at very high intensity for a short time, followed by a short break. It is also best done with your whole or most of the muscles in your body. For instance, doing as many pullups as you can as fast as you can is not as effective as something like sprints. So after you warm up, you might sprint as fast as you can for 15 seconds. Then walk it off for 15 seconds, followed by another 15 second sprint. It is exhausting, but you’ll have accomplished more by doing this for just 2 miles than you would have jogging 5!
Activities like burpees, boxing, jumping rope, karate, mountain climbers, high knee running in place and anything else you can think of could be part of your program. You could even do multiple activities. For example, you might sprint for 15 seconds, break and then 15 seconds of burpees and keep repeating. As long as it is short, really intense exercise followed by a short break and then repeated a number of times, you are doing it right.
In fact, here is a great routine gives you some helpful ideas: