Ladies, I hope you've hit the weights a bit since my last post!
While I truly believe strength training should be the foundation of your weekly workout routine, research shows that adding in some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) can really increase the results you see from your strength training workouts. The reason I LOVE HIIT is because it is so time efficient. You get a ton of benefit in small amounts of time. As a busy, working mom, time is a hot commodity. So quick and effective is absolutely my love language in terms of a great workout.
What is HIIT?
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is alternating intervals of all-out-high-intensity-work and low intensity or no intensity rest periods. For example, my favorite type of HIIT is a simple sprint workout. I typically sprint as fast as I can for about 10-15seconds, and then walk for about 40-60 seconds, then repeat that 8 times. You can do this with a bike, swimming, on a treadmill or at home with moves like burpees, mountain climbers and squat jumps. This type of workout is great for when you are short on time, or when you are on the road with no equipment. It's also the perfect finisher to a great strength training workout (I would do fewer repetitions at the end of a hard workout though).
Here's why HIIT is so amazing...
Burn Calories for Hours
HIIT obviously burns calories while you are working out. In fact, it burns more calories than when you do a steady-state type of cardio workout (steady paced running, biking, etc). But the really cool thing about HIIT workouts is that they keep burning calories AFTER your workout is over. The simple explanation for this is that you are requiring more of your body during high intensity intervals in terms of the way your body gets and uses its oxygen. After your workout is done, your body continues using that same pathway as it is repairing your muscles. If you want to get all geeky over the science, check this out.
Research has also shown that HIIT workouts increase your body's resting metabolic rate for 24 hours after your workout is complete. Simply put, your metabolism speeds up for 24 hours after your HIIT workout. Who doesn't want to speed up their metabolism?
Burn Belly Fat
Studies have shown that doing 4-30second sprints, 3 times per week will burn more fat after 6 weeks than 60 minutes of steady state-cardio (walking on an inclined treadmill). Other studies have shown that 20 minutes of HIIT, 3 times a week will significantly lower belly fat. HIIT gets you burning fat, which means you look leaner...especially around the mid-section.
Improve Cardiovascular Strength
HITT gets your heart muscle working, but also gives it time to rest and recover. Overall this means improved cardiac functioning and better cholesterol profiles. In addition it can help lower blood pressure and improve your overall aerobic performance (aka...you're able to do more cardiovascularly with less effort).
Improve Glucose Control
HIIT training helps your body use glucose more effectively which means that you are less likely to become diabetic, and if you are diabetic, it means you will be better able to control your glucose levels. In addition, better glucose control means a more efficient metabolism. That means your body will burn fat more effectively. Now that doesn't sound too bad does it?
The real reason I love HIIT is that you burn tons of calories, reach into your fat stores and improve your cardiovascular health...IN LESS TIME! If you're a busy, go-getter like me, then you don't have hours to spend in the gym. Which is why I love adding HIIT into my weekly workout routine. It is a TON of bang for your buck in terms of time spent vs. positive effects. You are more likely to stick with a workout that won't take forever, which means sustainable change that your body will thank you for!
As you build muscle through strength training, your body's metabolism will become more efficient, and you will see your overall body composition change. Add in some HIIT sessions and you will really see the fat melt away. In addition, you'll be strengthening your heart and improving your overall health, which means more energy to live the life God has given you.
A Few things to keep in mind about HIIT:
- During your work intervals, you want to go all out! If you are able to carry on a conversation, you're not working hard enough. You need to be working at a level where it is hard to breath. You are going to get a rest period, so make those intervals count!
- You can't do HIIT for extended periods of time if you are doing it correctly. 8-10 intervals is probably the max for most people. Don't be a hero, your body wasn't designed to work that hard for longer periods of time.
- Don't do more than 4 HIIT sessions per week, and be sure to make sure you are incorporating strength training. For most of my programs I include 1-2 minutes of interval training at the end of each strength training workout, and one longer interval day with 8 intervals with a longer recovery period between intervals.
- Intervals can be done anywhere. You can do them on a bike, in a pool, in your home with no equipment, on the treadmill or outside.
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