HIIT workouts to get you leaner

By Liz Lowe on Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Over the past few years High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become very popular. Fitness models swear by it as a form of cardio to get lean for competitions and photo-shoots, athletes use it as conditioning for their sport and its recognized as an effective way to drop those extra pounds.

In a nutshell, HIIT training is short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by a recovery period of less intense exercise. The goal is to get your heart rate up and push yourself as hard as you can during the intense interval, and not give your body full recovery during the less intense interval. HIIT workouts can range anywhere from 4 minutes to 30 minutes depending on what your fitness goal and ability is…more into that later.

The idea behind HIIT training is that it improves both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. So what the heck does that mean?

Your body uses different energy systems when you are exercising.

Long distance runners and endurance athletes primarily use their aerobic system. The aerobic energy system runs off oxygen and uses fat as energy after a certain amount of time. Once we’ve used up all the available oxygen to our muscles, we’ve hit our lactic threshold or Vo2 max. That’s the muscle cramping burning feeling that we know as lactic acid, or that I can’t breathe anymore and I’m going to pass out feeling.

At the other end of the spectrum we have the anaerobic system. This system does not use oxygen. Think short bursts of power and 100 meter track athletes. This energy system gets used up very quickly before our body has to switch over to the oxygen using aerobic system.

So how will training these two energy systems with HIIT make you leaner???

Increases glucose metabolism: The break down of sugars.

This is a good thing! With type 2 diabetes on the rise keeping your blood sugar in check is critical. HIIT training helps your body breakdown carbohydrates and improves your body’s sensitivity to insulin when you’re more sensitive to insulin you don’t store as much fat. That’s pretty awesome.

Improves fat oxidation: This is your body burning fat!

HIIT training has been shown to increase your body’s natural ability to burn fat and use it as a source of energy. Primarily your body likes to use glycogen (think carbs converted into usable energy) as its main fuel source. Since HIIT training is using more than one energy source you can tap into those fat stores more efficiently and burn, baby burn.

Creates an after burn effect: This is known as EPOC, Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.

This is all the extra calories your body is burning while it’s trying to get back to normal after your tough HIIT training. During HIIT you’re going to be pushing your body to its limit and it’s going to take some time to recover. Lucky for you, you can burn extra calories anywhere from 12-48 hours after your workout!

Now lets look at the combination of those three benefits of HIIT training. (Believe me there are many more!) First we are going to stop the storage of excess fat through increased insulin sensitivity, then, were going to burn some of our fat stores to give us energy for our actual workout and last were going to continue to burn fat after our workout due to EPOC. Sounds like a win win to me.

Now, what about all the stuff we’ve heard about long slow distance??

Straight up aerobic work has a place in your training to be a lean mean fighting machine as well. Since a lot of fat oxidation takes place after the 30 minute training window adding in a couple long slow distance days (easy cardio longer than 30 minutes) will help reach your goals even faster. HIIT training takes time to recover from and CANNOT be done daily. Adding in an endurance workout can help push nutrients to your muscles through increased blood flow and will help with recovery. A typical weekly schedule could look like this:

Monday: HIIT

Tuesday: Distance

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: HIIT

Friday: Distance

Saturday: HIIT

Sunday: OFF

And the best part of all of this is…

I’ve supplied a HIIT workout for you to try! Well actually I’ve supplied a few. If it’s your first HIIT workout then take the beginner route for this session. If you’ve been getting your cardio in occasionally and hit the gym often go with the intermediate plan…the advanced plan is for all you crazy athletes out there.

This workout can be done on a treadmill, track, elliptical, bike, stair stepper…any piece of cardio equipment you’d like. Were going to use a RPE (rate of perceived exertion) scale for you to base your intensity on this workout. A 0 is no activity whatsoever… as if you were sitting. A 10 is pushing yourself so hard you may collapse and there is no way you could ever push yourself any harder. For these workouts were going to be exercising from a 4-9 on that scale. Since 0 and 10 seem pretty harsh and probably should be avoided. If you’re not tired after the workout then you didn’t push yourself hard enough. The intensity of these workouts is up to you! If you incorporate lifting into your schedule (which you should) put your lift days on the same days as your HIIT workouts.

Here you go! Have fun!

 

Beginner workout:

Total time: 15min

5 min warm up         RPE-5 (jog)

30 seconds                 RPE-8 (sprint)

1 minute                    RPE-4-5 (fast walk/jog)

30 seconds                 RPE-8

1 minute                    RPE 4-5

30 seconds                 RPE-9

1 minute                    RPE-4-5

30 seconds                 RPE-9

5 min cool down        RPE-5 (jog)

Intermediate Workout:

Total time: 24 minutes

5 min warm up         RPE-5 (jog)

45 seconds                 RPE-8-9 (sprint)

1 minute                    RPE-5 (jog)

45 seconds                 RPE-8-9

1 minute                    RPE-5

45 seconds                 RPE-8-9

1 minute                    RPE-5

45 seconds                 RPE-8-9

1 minute                    RPE-5

45 seconds                 RPE-8-9

1 minute                    RPE-5

45 seconds                 RPE-8-9

1 minute                    RPE-5

45 seconds                 RPE-8-9

1 minute                    RPE-5

45 seconds                 RPE-8-9

1 minute                    RPE-5

5 min cool down        RPE-5

 

Advanced Workout:

Total time: 30 minutes

10 min warmup        RPE-5

30 seconds                 RPE-8-9

30 seconds                 RPE-5

45 seconds                 RPE-8-9

30 seconds                 RPE-5

45 seconds                 RPE-8-9

30 seconds                 RPE-5

1 minute                    RPE-8-9

30 seconds                 RPE-5

1 minute                    RPE-8-9

30 seconds                 RPE-5

45 seconds                 RPE-8-9

30 seconds                 RPE-5

45 seconds                 RPE-8-9

30 seconds                 RPE-5

30 seconds                 RPE-8-9

30 seconds                 RPE-5

10 min cooldown      RPE-5

 

 *Originally written by Liz Lowe for uniconutrition.com (check them out...they have a pretty great pre workout :)