Tone Muscle and Boost Fat Loss with HIITs
HIITs and fat loss..
As someone already interested in fitness, you may have heard many people speaking about their many different goals, and yet in too many instances there is an overemphasis on cardio as the engine driving workout programs.
However, just a few words from the experts might help you make the move from cardio-centric exercise programming to the HIIT way of life.
For instance, a recent article discussed a study comparing the results of steady-state cardio for half of an hour, three times each week to twenty minutes of high-intensity interval training, also three times per week. The results were interesting. All participants lost weight, but the HIIT group had 2% loss in body fat while the other group saw only .03%.
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Additionally, the HIIT people put on around two pounds of muscle while the other group actually lost almost a full pound of muscle!
Muscle loss, decreases in testosterone production, weakened immune function, boosts to cortisol, and struggles with strength gains…clearly, overemphasizing cardio is not the way to lose fat and gain muscle.
And you do want fat loss and muscle…so, what is the answer? HIITs!
HIITs to Achieve Goals
There is no reason you have to lose weight while also giving up muscle and strength. If you are looking to get fit or just improve on an already healthy lifestyle, you should integrate a few interval training sessions into your weekly workout routine.
And before you argue that you don’t have the time or resources to invest in more gear or add an additional routine to your existing one, consider some realities.
- HIITs can be done without any new gear
- HIITs can replace a workout because they can be just as (if not more) effective as a longer workout
- They typically burn more calories and fat anyway, and continue burning them for around 24 hours after you have done the routine
- HIITs can be done almost anywhere – land, sea, gym, home, even your office building or campus
Let’s look at three ideal HIITs for those who are new to this concept but who are ready to burn up calories and fat while also maintaining, and even increasing muscle mass and metabolic levels.
The Beginner’s HIIT
A good way to introduce yourself to HIITs is to use the Tabata approach. Though you may not hear this description used all of the time, it is actually one of the most well-documented and researched ways of using intervals effectively.
To do Tabata workouts you will choose a high intensity activity. You will do it “all out” for a twenty count, rest for a ten count, and then repeat this process until a four full minutes have passed.
Yes, FOUR minutes. Intense running, jumping jacks, cycling, swimming…any exercise you can do at an all out pace is fine.
What can you achieve with this, seemingly, simple routine? In less than 30 seconds of cycling “all out” followed by ten seconds of slow or low intensity cycling, and repeating this for four minutes, provides the same benefits as maximum aerobic levels of slow cardio for 45 minutes.
Who doesn’t want that? However, you don’t want to do this one every day or too many times per week.
It can overtax the central nervous system, for one, and this can lead to all kinds of issues. Add it once a week and watch how your body responds!
A Ten Minute HIIT
If you want to do more than double the time spent in a HIIT, and stick to a routine that doesn’t need any gear, this ten minute workout is ideal. It is done as three rounds with the same twenty seconds of work followed by ten seconds of rest before jumping into the next move.
It looks like this:
- Jabs – cross and front to the right
- Jabs – cross and front to the left
- Jumping jacks
- Squats (the sumo squat is used in this routine)
You may think you are clear on jabs, but let’s be sure you’re using the right form. We’ll describe the “to the right” and you can simply reverse it in order to do it to the left properly.
Begin with your stance – the right foot is in the front and the hips are oriented to the left. Assume a boxer’s pose and make a short jab (never extend the arm fully as this can strain the elbow) with the right. Immediately do a “cross” with your left, rotating the torso as the left arm makes its way across the body and to the right.
Note that your weight should be in your right foot and your back heel should naturally lift off the floor as you make this move. To complete one move, return the arms to the original boxer pose, making sure you are facing forward.
Reverse to make it a cross and front to the left.
Let’s also be sure you are clear about a squat. Start with the feet hip-width apart and keep the toes out at a 45 degree angle. Make sure your weight is balanced into your heels and your chest is upright. Lower your body (picture a sumo wrestler stance) until thighs are parallel with the floor; knees should be almost over the heels. Use the glutes to push yourself upright. That’s it.
In just ten minutes each day, you can start to feel and see fat loss and muscle growth from this amazingly simple routine, plus it’s a heck of a lot of fun!
Total Body With Weights HIIT
We all know that weight training is key to muscle growth. So, if you want to do a twice-weekly HIIT, and enjoy comprehensive benefits, working a “barbell complex” is a great idea.
Though most of us will want “leg days” and other body-specific routines, to get the most bang for the buck, a full body complex is the way to HIIT.
The key here is to ignore pace and go for explosive, whole body movement. The goal is to accomplish the sets quickly, without resting between exercises but don’t make the pace the focus. Rest only one to two minutes between complexes. Try to do the whole set within eight to ten minutes if you can. If you intend to do multiple complexes (and you should), start with the empty bar and add five pound plates with each progressive complex.
A whole body complex looks like this:
Each move is done as one set (with five to eight reps in each set) and lesser known moves are linked to detailed tutorials.
Be sure you know what you are doing and have good form before using the routines.
Minutes instead of hours and you can start to see muscle gained and weight lost.
If you are someone already in a regular fitness routine, adding HIITs can increase your level of challenge and help you see some new gains in strength, cardio fitness and more.
We highly recommend HIITs for all interested in toning muscle and fat loss results.
Demmy James is a fitness buff as well as strength and conditioning specialist. He is a content contributor at Muscle & Strength