As with many things, less is often more, take cardio for example. How much cardio does it take to rid you of that stubborn layer of fat around your abdomen?
A lot – at least that’s how it feels. With cardio, the theory has always been more is more.
Well, all that is about to change. Serious athletes have long known the benefits and have been reaping the rewards of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – alternating periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise with recovery periods built-in.
The idea is simple: less time for significant change. The benefits go way beyond just time saving and quicker results – years of research prove it. So if you aren’t already on board with HIIT, read on to get seriously motivated.
What if we told you that the latest scientific research suggests shorter cardio sessions results in crazy fat loss and helps you hold onto more of your hard-earned muscle? It’s okay go ahead and smile–because it’s entirely accurate.
HIIT workouts are shorter, yes, but you’ll be working harder, and the results are undeniable.
HIIT burns more calories during and after a workout than continuous aerobic training. The bursts of increased intensity naturally increase the caloric expenditure. Thus, more total calories are burned. As a bonus, your body will continue to burn calories for about two hours after the exercise.
A Long-Running Debate
Traditionally, athletes have used steady-state cardio to whittle away at their body fat, which is low to medium intensity exercise, conducted at around 60-70% of one’s MHR (maximum heart rate). Experts argue that low-intensity cardio exercise burns a higher percentage of fat for energy and that slow and steady wins the ‘fat burning’ race. HIIT cardio, on the other hand, requires intervals of high-intensity exercise at a MHR of around 90%, with intervals of slower paced active recovery. Early research on HIIT went against the steady-state establishment and claimed it was a superior method for losing fat. The exercise community then felt it was time science took a more in-depth look and ended the debate once and for all. The experiments found time and again, that HIIT cardio was indeed the better way to lose fat – despite it taking less total time than traditional steady-state.
One of the earliest studies, conducted by researchers at Laval University (Ste-Foy, Quebec, Canada), kept it basic. They had one group follow a 15-week program using HIIT while another performed only steady-state cardio for 20 weeks. It showed that the steady-state training subjects burned 15,000 calories more than their HIIT counterparts. However, the group doing HIIT lost significantly more body fat, dropping an average of 2% over the course of the experiment. Meanwhile, those who plodded through on the steady-state program lost none.
A more recent study, out of Australia, showed a group of females following a 20-minute HIIT program consisting of eight-second sprints followed by twelve seconds of rest lost an incredible six times more body fat than a group following a 40-minute cardio program performed at a steady 60% MHR.
4 Proven Benefits
You are less likely to quit HIIT
HIIT is more enjoyable than low-intensity steady-state exercise and science backs this up too. One study found people reported a much greater enjoyment of HIIT over steady state exercise. When you get a thrill from your workout, you are more likely to stick to it.
Increases Your V02 Max
You may think a single workout won’t achieve much, but if you’re doing HIIT, it can. An Interval vs. Steady-state study, containing people with type 2 diabetes showed that the VO2 max increased in the group doing interval walking, with no changes seen in the continuous walking group. It wasn’t only their V02 max that improved, their body and fat mass decreased and they also had better glycemic control.
One study found that even a single minute of high-intensity work on an otherwise not-so-hard workout increases endurance and overall health. Improvements such as improved blood pressure and a higher mitochondrial count, which helps to fuel your body and brain. So, the next time you’re out on a run, try picking up the pace for just 60 seconds. That will improve your overall endurance and carry over to your more moderate-intensity runs, rides, and other workouts.
Great For Heart Health
Flexibility is important when it comes to touching your toes, but that’s not the only time flexibility is good. HIIT has been shown to increase flexibility and elasticity in arteries and veins. Due to the increased pressure demand of HIIT; these vessels get a workout as well. A study of people with coronary artery disease found HIIT training was better tolerated and safer than a more moderate level exercise.
Time To Up Your Game
Not many people enjoy doing cardio, but we all know it’s a necessary component in achieving your physique goals. It also doesn’t need to be monotonous to be effective, and through this article, we’ve shown you the science to prove it. Rev up your workouts with HIIT and join Secret Grit Club on the next session. Try replacing one or two of your regular workouts; this will keep you feeling productive while speeding up your fat loss all in less time than you’d usually spend doing cardio.