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Interval Training (HIIT) | Get Leaner with Less Cardio?

Posted Sep 26 2008 3:21pm

Can Interval Training help you strip off body fat faster? Learn how adding High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) into your cardio routine can reap big rewards in strength, power and fat loss. Woman Performing Interval Training on Track

When most people think of cardio, they think of endless hours on a treadmill, elliptical machine, stair stepper or jogging. But unless you enjoy distance or long-duration cardio (for example, if you are training for a marathon or are a running enthusiast) , many gym-goers dread climbing on that hamster wheel each day in the hopes of burning off that 400 calories and maybe losing a little body fat along the way.

But what if there was a way to burn nearly the same amount of calories in 30 minutes that you do in 60 minutes, stimulate fat burning after your cardio is complete, boost your stamina and endurance, and actually increase lean muscle in the process?

There may be.

It’s called Interval Training — also known as “ High Intensity Interval Training” or “ HIIT “, for short — and it uses periods of high-intensity cardio coupled with lower-intensity recovery periods in succession to shave time off your cardio workout and possibly more fat off your midsection than long duration cardio. And even more promising, Interval Training seems to do a better job than long-duration cardio of preserving lean tissue (muscle) while still burning fat.

Interval Training: What Is It?

Simply put, Interval Training is a method of cardiovascular training that has you perform the same amount of total work that you would perform in a longer session of cardio, but in a much shorter period of time by increasing the intensity of your workout.  

Interval Training is considered an advanced form of training and is popular with everyone from elite Olympic and professional athletes to body builders, fitness enthusiasts and recreational runners.  While the technique is advanced, it can be successfully modified to work for beginners as well, provided you are in good health and are free of any cardiovascular disorders that could make the routine unsafe.

Interval Training relies on the principle of rest and recovery to allow your body to do more work in less time. By alternating higher-intensity activity with short rest and recovery periods, you are able to cumulatively do more work in less time. And more work translates into more calories burned in a 30 minute session of cardio than if you did the same duration of cardio at a lower intensity.

Examples of Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training can be applied to nearly any cardiovascular activity, whether that’s walking, running, rollerblading or biking.

For example, if you are fit and regularly walk as part of your exercise routine, you might incorporate short periods (between 1-2 minutes) of jogging into your walk between lower-intensity periods of walking. If you are less fit, you might simply walk faster for a few minutes, allow yourself to recover and than repeat the higher intensity walking. If you are more highly conditioned, you might add in sprints to your daily run or treadmill work.

The Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training has a number of benefits that make it an effective addition to your existing cardiovascular training. These benefits include:

  • Burning more calories in less time
  • Improved cardiovascular endurance
  • Possible increases in whole body fat burning (fat oxidation) versus solid-state cardio
  • Reduced risk of Metabolic Syndrome
  • Decreased muscle catabolism/increases in lean muscle mass
  • Improvements in arterial elasticity
  • Reduced boredom with your current cardio routine

Let’s take a closer look at each of these potential benefits, including some of the research behind them.



Tags: American Heart Association, Body Fat, Body Fat Percentage, Cardio, Cardio Exercises, Circulation, Elliptical Trainer, EPOC, Examples of Interval Training, Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption, Exercise, Exercise, Fat Oxidation, Heart Monitor, High Intensity Interval Training, HIIT, HIIT Research, Interval Training, Interval Training and Lean Muscle, Interval Training and Metabolic Syndrome, Interval Training Study, Jason L. Talanian, Journal of Applied Physiology, Low Volume Interval Training, Maximum Heart Rate, McMaster University, Medical University of Ohio, MHR, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Percentage of Maximum Heart Rate, Sprinting, St. Olav's Hospital, Stairstepper, treadmill, University of Glascow, University of Guelph, VO2 Max

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