Want to increase your calorie burn without increasing the amount of time you work out? Then HIIT training may be for you. Whether you overdid it on the Halloween candy this past month or just want to mix up your exercise routine, HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, is an innovative way to increase the amount of calories you burn without spending a lot of time exercising. HIIT combines two of the most efficient calorie burning methods – using maximum effort to trick your body into burning calories even after your workout is over, and alternating between bursts of intense and low-effort activity to boost your metabolism and build lean muscle.
The afterburn effect is a key component to HIIT training. By performing short bursts of high-intensity activity, you’re pushing your muscles to require more oxygen to complete the workout. The more oxygen your muscles consume, the more calories you are going to burn, as it takes 5 calories to consume 1 liter of oxygen. In addition, due to this high-intensity activity, your body is going to keep needing to consume oxygen even after your workout has ended – for up to 48 hours! So, the afterburn effect causes your body to burn calories even after your workout is over.
HIIT training is also effective due to the presence of intervals. Interval training has been shown to increase metabolism (so you burn more calories) and build muscle mass (muscle is important because it burns more calories than fat) better than a workout of consistent intensity. By alternating between intervals of high- and low-intensity exercise, you’ll be able to burn calories more efficiently than if you were to just work out at a steady pace for the same period of time.
So how do you go about performing HIIT? There are several HIIT programs you can follow, but my favorite is the Little Method. Under this form of HIIT, you alternate between 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise (i.e. running) and 75 seconds of low-intensity exercise (i.e. walking) for a total of 27 minutes. Although the general recommendations for exercise are to get 45-60 minutes each day, you’ll be burning the same amount of calories (or more) during 27 minutes of HIIT training as you would by doing a moderate-intensity workout for twice the time.
HIIT is not for everyone, and if you’re interested in trying it, you should read up on or talk to an exercise trainer about it before getting started. Once you do, though, you’ll really be feeling the burn – and feeling sneaky about burning a lot of calories in a little time!