HIIT In Pictures
A Fat Burning Guide With High Intensity Interval Training
Not many people have the time or enjoy traditional cardio. If that’s you high intensity interval training or HIIT is a great option. HIIT is also a great option if you’re looking to maintain or build lean muscle mass.
Cardio belongs in every workout program. It’s not just for weight loss.
Take a look at this infographic and my comments to find the best HIIT method for yourself.
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Back in the day I was a competitive track and cross country runner. Over the years the years that training has added up to be a lot of miles. Very few were ever long slow runs. The majority of my training consisted of intervals. I've run intervals in ever distance imaginable, from 100m to 3 miles. Most often at an intense pace. So I'm no stranger to interval training.
I'd have to say one of the toughest HIIT protocols I ever did was during my days running University track. It was modeled after the great Sebastian Coe. A UK runner who once held all four middle distance world records, at the same time... the 800m, 1000m, 1500m and the mile.
He was a big fan of interval training. His father's philosophy was, why run slow when you want to be fast. So Coe's training consisted of a lot of HIIT.
A staple for him, which became a staple for our track team was 10 sets of 200m repeats with 30s rest
Simple, yet brutally effective.
A close second were 400m repeats. Sometimes these were done a 800m race pace other times they were done full speed. With only a 60 second rest it didn't take long to end up in the hurt locker.
Intervals got us in shape. They also helped keep us lean. That's why I'm still a big fan of intervals and wanted to share this infographic with you.
You'll find a few great points and protocols to follow... and a few things you didn't know worth bringing to your attention.
What Is HIIT
A great place to start is defining what High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is.
Basically all it refers to is doing some kind of work for a set period of time. Then immediately following that with a rest period of either decreasing effort, or stopping activity all together. Then repeating this entire process.
The key is intensity. It's essential that each work bout is tough. The effort and intensity has to be high. Not something you can maintain indefinitely like typical cardio.
Some think HIIT is simply the best, better than all the rest. They'll go as far to say that traditional cardio is dead. That is, unless you're an ultra marathon runner. For everyone else HIIT is the answer.
Now, I'm not going to go that far. There's a time and a place for both. I do think there is more of a time and more of a place for HIIT than long slow cardio training.
If you're not including HIIT in your training you're missing out. High intensity interval training has plenty of benefits making it well worth your while.
- Save Time - Because a HIIT routine is so intense it doesn't last long.
- More Enjoyable - It's easy to add variety, this makes things much more enjoyable.
- EPOC (excess-post exercise oxygen consumption) - It may not be much but it is there. You keep burning calories at an elevated rate after your workout is over.
- Builds both aerobic and anaerobic capacity.
- Shown to burn more fat than other comparable cardio methods.
In the Little Method work bouts are done at 95% of Vo2 max. That's a tough pill to swallow. So they scaled it back a bit for beginners.
This less intense version was scaled back for those who haven't exercised in a year or more.
It started with a 3 minute warm-up on the bike. After that the work began...
- 10 repetitions of...
- 60-second bursts at 60% peak power (80 - 95% of heart rate reserve)
- 60 seconds of recovery
- 5-minute cool-down
Burn fat and get fit in 4 minutes?
Short workouts with the promise of big results has helped the Tabata method become popular over the last few years. Trainers everywhere have weight loss clients doing 20-10 intervals calling them tabatas.
Back in 1996 Dr. Izumi Tabata did a study with elite cyclists and found that super intense intervals along with some steady state cardio had just as good results as the steady state cardio alone.
There are a few important things to know about the Tabata study...
- Each interval is completed with maximal effort to the point of complete exhaustion and/or vomiting.
- Study was done on world class athletes, To reach 170% of VO2 max you have to be in incredible shape.
- Study was done on a bike. It's not possible to do bodyweight exercises with the intensity needed.
Just doing 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest doesn't make a Tabata.
A post on Mike Robertson's blog goes into the Tabata myth...
Despite what you’ve been told, front squats, resistance bands, or any other bodyweight routine you might be doing may replicate the time sequence of the Tabata protocol, but it is NOT a Tabata interval.
If your first set is performed at a submaximal weight that becomes maximal by the final set this does not even come close.
It might be hard, but it isn’t a Tabata.
Mark Young, The Tabata Myth
I'm not saying don't use this interval scheme. Just know that you're not doing Tabatas therefor the fitness fugizies are overstating the effectiveness of the 20-10 workout they prescribe you. Plus it wasn't testing fat loss. It was a measure of VO2 max. Tough to say how effective 4 minutes of work is for helping you slim your waistline.
Kind of weird TT workouts made it on the list. It's not an interval training protocol.
Craig Ballantyne created and introduced the world to TT workouts. His programs use a lot of bodyweight exercises mostly done in a circuit fashion. He does advocate intervals but as I said, he doesn't have any sort of protocol. Every kind of interval you can think of is used. So it's not necessarily HIIT either. Again. Weird it's on the list. Even if it is a good program.
Most workouts are bodyweight, don't require much space and can be done in 45 minutes or less, just 3 times a week. Perfect if you're busy and on the go, or want to workout from home. It does produce results. Many of his TT transformation weight loss contestants have burnt a great deal of belly fat.
Craig isn't limited to training with bodyweight exercises. He also has a strength training component. If you have access to a gym there are TT workouts that use weights in a circuit style routine. With theses routines you're doing specific number of sets and reps. Interval training is added in after the strength training is done with.
Craig has spent a lot of time in the lab and reading research. While he hasn't developed a interval protocol he uses all the latest research to design his workouts for efficient weight loss workouts.
Be sure to grab your free 30 day Turbulence Training fat loss workout.
We've covered 3 HIIT protocols an 1 workout program that has elements of interval training in it.
- Tabata Method - 20s. on at 170% of VO2 max 10s. off, x8
- Little Method - 60s high intensity work , 75s. easy, 12x
- Old School Track Intervals - 200m sprint 30s. rest, x10
- Turbulence Training Workouts - a mix of everything
You may have noticed that the bike gets used a lot.
That's because it's easy to use, and safe. You can immediately pedal at 100% effort with a high resistance. Not something you can do with weights or bodyweight exercises.
Safety is the other big factor. When your legs or lungs give out on a bike nothing happens. Your form can't really go bad. You simply stop pedaling. Not the case with a bunch of weight on your back.
Personally, I like sprints.
They're better outside. If you do them inside a special treadmill is needed. It's faster and safer. If you've ever seen someone's legs give out on a treadmill, you know it doesn't end well. An over speed treadmill has a safety harness to catch you if you fall. Not something most people have access to. So find yourself a hill and have at it.
HIIT is another tool in your toolbox.
It's not magic. It doesn't give you free reign at the buffet. Use it as part of a balanced training program. Warren Buffett doesn't put all his money in one stock. Make sure you don't put the fate of your physique in just one fitness protocol.
- Watch what you eat.
- Train for strength.
- Do some HIIT.
- Do some long slow cardio...
and keep busy. Get as much activity as you can in the run of the day.
Follow that prescription and the weight will fall off. You'll look great in no time.
One more thing...
Doing HIIT or any other cardio on an empty stomach doesn't help in your fat loss efforts. No need to go into your workout starving.
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