HIIT – What it is and how to use it.

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and is one of the best ways to retain muscle while losing fat. It’s by no means a new technique however. If you consider this method in the truest sense of its name, it all comes down to a form of interval training.

HIIT training is the best way to burn fat without compromising your muscle tissue. There have been studies which show that some activities requiring long endurance, such as aerobics for example, can cause the breakdown of muscle tissue. This isn’t a good thing. HIIT training allows your body to metabolize the fat while keeping your muscles intact.

There are many aspects of HIIT and interval training that are quite similar. The main difference is the intensity of the activity. You’re probably now asking yourself what interval training is. Don’t worry, everything will be much clearer by the time we’re done here today.

Interval training uses different levels of intensity during the same workout. You would add a considerably higher intensity activity to your low intensity workout session. This can be achieved in many ways, allowing you to change things around if you find things getting boring, or just want to do something different.

As with any exercise, if you’re new to it you have to be sure to clear it with your physician first. You don’t want to be following any exercise program he or she doesn’t agree will help you.

I’m going to give you some examples of how you can include HIIT in your exercise routine, depending on whether or not you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced level interval trainer. I’ll be using a treadmill for my examples, but you can use this method with just about any exercise equipment you have. From biking to rowing to simply using the stairs, this is possible anywhere you are. There’s no need for any fancy new gadget, or expensive machines.

Beginners: A good beginner’s interval training program is one using walking and jogging as the exercise. You can begin with a 1 minute walk, followed by a 1 minute jog. You simply repeat this as many time as possible without straining yourself. It’s important that your body get used to this type of activity, especially if you haven’t been exercising regularly until now.

As you progress, you can eventually get yourself up to a 30/30 routine. This means you walk for 30 seconds and then jog for 30 seconds. If you would like to make it a little harder, increase the incline level on your treadmill. Keep yourself at this level 2 to 4 times a week until you find it less of a challenge and are ready to move ahead to the intermediate level.

Intermediate: This level is for those who have been exercising for approximately 6 months, or are already healthy and fit. Instead of the walk-jog routing used in the beginner level, you would choose a jog-run program.

Begin by warming up with stretches followed by a 5 minute jog on the treadmill. Then run for one minute, and back to jogging for 1 minute etc. Repeat this as many times as you can. You want to be running at a good, steady pace. Once you’re ready for more intensity you may want to try 30 seconds of jogging followed by 30 seconds of running. This level of training can be practiced 3 to 5 times a week, for 10 – 20 minutes each time.

Up until now, you have simply been conditioning yourself in preparation for your HIIT program or routine. This is where it starts to get challenging, but the results will be much different than what you have seen to date.

Advanced Interval Training Program (HIIT): There are many variations of the following recommendation, but I’ll only explain this one for now. Now remember, in order to achieve the best possible results, this HAS to be intense. When you’re done with this routine you should be very tired. Beginners who claim they were able to do this for a full 20 minutes on their first attempt simply aren’t using enough intensity.

Once you’re ready for HIIT, start with your warm-up stretches and a 5 minute jog or run. Next it’s time for a complete sprint; running like you’ve never ran before, and this for as long as you can. Change back down to a jog for 1 minute and sprint again for as long as possible. Keep repeating this as many times as you can.

If you made it past 5 minutes following your warm-up on your first few tries, CONGRATULATIONS! For most people it will take quite some time to actually be able to make it to 20 minutes of doing this. Once you do reach this level however, you can try a 30 second jog followed by the sprint in order to increase the intensity of your HIIT session. Want even more of a challenge? Add an incline on your treadmill to your routine.

Some other variations would be to perform the all out sprint and then back to a jog again until you are ready to perform another sprint. Although not as intense, it’s a good way to get used to the program.

Perform this training 3 to 5 times a week, for 5 to 20 minutes depending on your ability.

And there you have it. One of the best ways to retain muscle while losing fat, and you can do it just about anywhere. Grab a bike, find a track, use a stair-master…just about anything is going to work. Are you up for the challenge?

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