HIIT is the best cardio for weight loss
Credit: Tobyotter, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

Use a HIIT Workout For Weight Loss

If you want to lose weight and get fit there are better ways of doing it than spending hours each week jogging. In fact, although jogging does have its benefits, you can accomplish a lot more in much less time by doing the best cardio for weight loss – a HIIT workout.

What Is HIIT?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and it involves doing short bursts of high intensity activity alternated with periods of active rest. For example, you might sprint for 30 seconds and then walk for a minute. This could be repeated anything from 4 to 10 times depending on your current level of fitness.

Why Is A HIIT Workout The Best Cardio For Weight Loss?

HIIT burns calories much faster than lower intensity steady state cardio. And on top of this you will continue to burn calories for several hours after you have finished training. This effect is known as ‘afterburn’, and it does not happen to any appreciable degree with less intense forms of exercise.

HIIT also causes you to produce more growth hormone, which helps burn additional fat, as well as helping to preserve muscle tissue. So a short HIIT workout will burn far more fat overall than a longer steady state cardio session.

But apart from this, HIIT has other benefits too. It improves fitness levels faster than any other form of exercise, benefiting both your anaerobic and your aerobic capacity. It helps lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, whilst raising HDL (good) cholesterol. It improves heart and lung function, strengthens muscles and bones, improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. So as well as being great for losing weight and getting fit, it has exceptional health benefits too.

How You Can Vary A HIIT Workout To Suit Your Own Goals And Fitness Level

There are many different ways you can do a HIIT workout. For instance you could do shorter sprints of maximum effort to release more growth hormone. Or you could do longer sprints of a little lower intensity to burn more calories and deplete more of your glycogen stores.

You could take longer recovery periods if you are not in great shape, or if you simply want to be able to put more effort into your sprints. Or if you are already very fit you could have shorter recovery periods. Or you could simply vary it according to how you feel on the day.

For example, The Tabata Protocol is an advanced method of HIIT in which you alternate sprints of 20 seconds with rest periods of just 10 seconds. This is done for 8 cycles, giving a workout time of just 4 minutes (after your warm-up). And the style of HIIT where you vary it as and when you feel like it is known as Fartlek training.

All of these styles of HIIT can be done with any cardiovascular equipment – not just running sprints. Or you could even do it with bodyweight exercises or weights if you wish.

How You Can Burn Off Even More Fat

Whilst HIIT burns off fat far quicker than lower intensity forms of exercise such as jogging, you can still derive additional benefits by including some jogging in your exercise regimen. This is because HIIT releases a lot of free fatty acids into your bloodstream. And jogging, although poor at releasing fatty acids, is great for burning them off when they are in your bloodstream.

So, if you do 15 – 30 minutes of jogging (or other steady state cardio) after your HIIT workout, you can burn off even more fat. And doing this will also help prolong the afterburn effect for longer too.

There’s really only one downside to HIIT – it’s very demanding, and this makes it difficult to recover from. For this reason you should not do a HIIT session more often than three times per week. And twice per week is probably better for the majority of people.

So as you can now see, a HIIT workout is the best cardio for weight loss, and if you follow it with a session of steady state cardio you will get even better results still. Do a routine like this two to three times per week, and combine it with a sensible diet, and you’ll achieve that lean, fit body in far less time than you might think.