When it comes to weight-loss workouts, there are no shortcuts -- at least that's what most people believe. The truth is that high-intensity interval training offers a simple, effective and short workout for weight loss. HIIT workouts take less than 30 minutes to perform, three to four times per week, but will burn fat more effectively than conventional exercise.
Basics of HIIT
HIIT workouts alternate between high-intensity activities, such as sprinting, and moderate-intensity activities, such as jogging. The goal of HIIT is to bring your heart rate up to near its maximum rate for a short period of time followed by a recovery period. HIIT workouts can be performed with a variety of exercises including running, cycling, rowing or using an elliptical machine.
Why It's Effective
The big reason that HIIT exercises are effective is that they increase your body's metabolism, causing you to burn more calories throughout the day. So while your workout may be short, its effects will last beyond those 30 minutes or so. The recovery periods in HIIT workouts may also burn more fat, resulting in weight loss. Finally, HIIT workouts are short but intense and can have the effect of suppressing your appetite -- making you consume fewer calories.
The "IDEA Fitness Journal" website recommends three different interval workouts. One workout consists of five or six three-minute intervals at 95 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate, each followed by a two-minute recovery period. This gives you a total workout lasting 25 to 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can do four four-minute intervals at a high intensity followed by a three-minute recovery, giving you a 28-minute workout. Finally, you can do eight to 12 intervals of 30-second high-intensity activities each followed by a one-minute recovery for a 12- to 18-minute workout.
While HIIT workouts are simple, effective and quick, they're also intense. If you're in reasonably good shape, they can be a great way to work out, but if not you may risk injury. Know your limits and don't push yourself beyond them. If you're really out of shape consider low- or moderate-intensity workouts instead. While these workouts will take longer, you'll be less likely to get hurt.
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