Time to HITT that fat!

High intensity interval training

High intensity interval training is popular because it actually ends up revving up your metabolism so that you burn calories at an elevated rate for hours after your sweat session is finished.

HIIT exercises are those that require merciless, full-blown effort. They are exercises that are so demanding on your cardiovascular system that just a few rounds of twenty second intervals make you feel like you’ve been running for the last hour.

A HIIT workout is extremely effective for fat and/or weight loss, because of the metabolic disturbance that it causes. When you rattle your body’s systems with such an intense output of exertion, it takes time for it to reregulate itself and return to its normal rate of energy expenditure. What this means is that even though you only busted your butt for a short time, your body will keep burning fuel as though you are still working out.


  • Burn more calories
  • Metabolism stays high AFTER workout
  • Fat burning increases during and post workout
  • Shorter workouts
  • Increases power
  • Increases speed
  • Increases endurance
  • Decreases appetite


The key to HIIT is that it does not allow your body to get used to what you are doing, i.e. by changing your pace and pushing yourself through each interval. No matter what your fitness goals are, HIIT can be one of the best methods to help you achieve them. HIIT is a great technique for those who get bored easily and are already active or those who have reached a fat loss plateau.

The variations of HIIT are infinite. You can adjust the training parameters (e.g. ratio of exercise to rest, number of intervals) to make the workouts harder or easier. Generally longer intervals provide better results. The four parameters you can manipulate when designing your interval-training program are:

  • Intensity (i.e. speed) of work interval
  • Duration (i.e. distance or time) of work interval
  • Duration of rest/ recovery interval
  • Number of repetitions of each interval


  • Warm up before you start.
  • Assess your current fitness and set training goals within your ability.
  • Start slowly. (E.g. walk 2 minutes/ run 2 minutes).
  • Keep a steady, but challenging pace throughout the interval.
  • Increase the number of repetitions over time.
  • Bring your heart rate down to 100-110 bpm during the rest interval.
  • To improve, increase intensity or duration, but not both simultaneously.
  • Make any changes slowly over a period of time.
  • HIIT should last 12 – 20 minutes (does not include warm-up and cool down).
  • The best way to use this method of exercising is to mix it up with traditional cardio.


  1. Adjust to fit your fitness level

If you are currently unfit, then undertaking a super-high intensity workout from the get-go is not the best idea. Instead, you need to allow some time for your body to gradually adapt to the increased physical demands on your body. You may wish to begin with a 30 second period of moderate to high intensity exercise, followed by a two minute period of recovery.  As your fitness improves (and it will quite quickly), increase the level of intensity of sprints, and decrease the intensity of the recovery periods.

If you are already relatively fit, you may consider performing high intensity bouts of an equivalent time to your recovery periods. Anywhere from 20 to 60 seconds is fairly standard. Ensure that you go all-out during your sprints and never, ever pace yourself. Treat every sprint as your last!

  1. Keep the workout short

Ensure that the HIIT session is not long. An ideal duration is 15 to 20 minutes. If you are training for too long, the level of exercise intensity will decrease and, with it, the effectiveness of the cardio will wane.

  1. Choosing Your Machine

HIIT can be performed on any machine, really, as the ultimate goal is to elevate your heart rate to near maximum levels.

Generally speaking, it is advisable to avoid anything that requires balance and coordination (such as the treadmill), as it’s easy to fall off when you’re training at that intensity. The bike, cross-trainer and rower, and outdoor running, make effective HIIT platforms.

Make sure that you drink plenty of water after this workout so that you don’t end up dehydrated. Also remember to be kind to your body nutritionally after a workout like this one – the last thing you want to do after making your body work so hard is to eat junk food!

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