Is It Possible To Get More Benefit Out of Exercise In Less Time?
The idea that aerobic exercise burns fat is phasing out. Although it does improve aerobic capacity and cardiovascular fitness; a study from The Cochrane Collaboration found moderate aerobic activity to produce negligible weight loss.1 Ouch! That’s a fact that hurts.
If your desire is to lose fat, increase your cardiovascular fitness and strengthen muscles then long aerobic workouts are probably not the answer. You do burn calories during long workouts, but only while you are working out and for a brief time afterwards. How would you like to achieve these goals in less time, with a more diverse workout and have more fun at the same time?
The answer is High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. HIIT workouts last 20-30 minutes, three times a week and achieve double the fat loss as 30-60 minutes of moderate aerobic activity. (As opposed to 1 hour workouts, 5 days a week) These workouts increase the basal metabolic rate and improve the muscles fat oxidation and glucose tolerance leading to quick and lasting results.
Long-term benefits of HIIT include increased aerobic and anaerobic fitness, skeletal muscle adaptations, and lower glucose sensitivity. Type II diabetics showed improved insulin sensitivity by 23-58 percent with HIIT. A study involving older Type II diabetic males found eight weeks of HIIT provided no change in body mass, but abdominal fat was decreased by 44 percent.2 Another similar study involving males and females found HIIT combined with steady activity reduced visceral fat by 48 percent and subcutaneous fat by 18 percent.3
How Do I Start HIIT?
Want to start? The most commonly used and effective method in research has been the Wingate protocol. This uses a stationary bike and includes four to six 30 second full out sprints with one to two minutes rest between sprints. There are several variations including eight second sprints with twelve seconds rest for 20 minutes, or 24 seconds with 36 seconds recovery. Check with your doctor first before starting any high intensity workouts.
1. Shaw K, Gennet H, O’Rourke P, Del Mar C. Exercise for Overweight or Obesity. John Wiley & Sons; 2006. The Cochrane Collaboration.
2. John A Babraj, et al., Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males, BMC Endocr Disord. 2009; 9: 3.
3. Stephen H. Boutcher, High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss, J Obes. 2011; 2011: 868305.