I'm a little surprised I still hear so many people talk about the notion that less intense moderate cardio, where your heart rate is raised only moderately for a longer period of time, is best to improve health. If I hear this referred to as the "fat burning zone" one more time I might scream! I just want everyone to learn the truth!
Long gone is the belief that simply exercising longer is the best way to lose fat. 60 minutes is NOT necessarily better than 30 minutes. It's not about time, but rather about INTENSITY. While you might technically burn more calories during a longer 60 minute even-paced moderate workout, your metabolism goes right back to the same slowed rate once you stop exercising. Only HIIT has the ability to increase your metabolism for up to 48 hrs. post exercise. This means that you'll burn more calories...even while you sleep! Re-programming your body to burn calories at a faster rate is the real key to losing weight and keeping it off. Most health and fitness professionals agree that exercise where the resistance/speed/intensity varies throughout the workout can produce the most profound and lasting results in the shortest amount of time.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is cardiovascular activity where the intensity, or level of difficulty, is varied throughout the workout. Not surprisingly, heart rate also rises and falls at various stages of the workout. The goal of HIIT is to push your body. Muscles need to be overloaded in order to strengthen and become more efficient. The heart is perhaps the most important muscle in the body! The benefits of HIIT go far beyond just improving heart health.
Proven benefits of HIIT include:
-increases metabolism for fat loss
-increases growth hormone for strength
-improves mental alertness
HIIT is what helped me lose 8 dress sizes in 12 weeks more than 2 years ago, and it's what I still do today to keep it off. I also credit having a blood pressure in the athlete range (94/64) and stellar cholesterol levels in large part to doing HIIT consistently. It works! If you haven't tried it yet, what do you have to lose?
Of course, you should modify your workouts to your own personal level of fitness, but I'm giving you 5 of my own personal HIIT workouts to give you some ideas.
Design similar workouts for yourself based on your own current level of fitness. You can do the same type of workout on the elliptical, rowing machine, arc trainer, or any other piece of cardio equipment. Remember, HIIT is designed to push you past your comfort zone. It's not supposed to be easy, but you will improve the more you practice. The results you'll get from doing it consistently will have you hooked! Alternate 3 days of HIIT per week with 3 days of strength training as part of a balanced workout routine. Don't forget to drink plenty of water!
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE BEGINNING ANY NEW EXERCISE PROGRAM.