It is a common misconception that steady state training is the best method for fat burning.
Although it is an effective method of getting your heart rate into fat burn zones, it is not the most effective for everyone.
Steady state cardiovascular exercise is where your heart rate stays within 60%-80% of its heart rate max (calculated: 220-age). This is most commonly achieved on a cardio kit such as treadmill, cross trainer or rower, or of course running/cycling outside.
Unfortunately, here’s the truth most people don’t want to hear- that’s the easy way to do it, and also not the most effective. The reason being- although you are burning fat whilst doing the actual workout, which is probably up to about 40 minutes, very soon after you jump off that kit and cool down, your heart rate will reduce back to normal levels. When your heart rate returns to normal you are no longer burning fat at an increased rate, so the workout is only causing a change for the time you spend on the treadmill.
This is why HIIT is more effective workout, not just for burning fat, but to also work on other components you may want too.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Works by constantly making your heart rate increase and decrease from around 60% all the way up to 100%. This can be done on cardio kit with sprint intervals, just bodyweight with exercises such as jumps, lunges and press ups, or extra kit such as battle ropes, med balls or kettlebells can be used. Because of these extra options and variations, when Doing HIIT you’re not just working your cardiovascular system, you will also be building up explosive and max strength, strengthening bones and tendons at the same time as working all 3 energy systems and burning fat too!
So you can already see that there is benefits to HIIT, but the question is- HOW?
How does HIIT burn more fat in a shorter time?
To tell you the truth, it doesn’t. HIIT will not necessarily burn more fat in 30 minutes than steady state cardio. But what it will do, is keep you burning fat AFTER you’re finished exercising! Whilst you are doing HIIT, you are pushing yourself so hard that your body cannot replace the energy in your muscles as fast as you are using it. This means your body has to start eating into its energy stores in the muscles, and also means that you use your anaerobic energy system. Using both of these are not sustainable as they are innately there as an ‘in case of emergency’ energy system. This means that they are readily available for you when needed but not for long term or ‘everyday use’. This is the kind of energy system you use in your fight or flight situation. The reason the anaerobic system isn’t sustainable is because it has a bi-product that you may have heard of- Lactic acid. Lactic acid is the cause of the burning feeling you may feel towards the end of a long cardio workout, or if you push yourself for a long time. That burn is your body saying to you ‘okay that’s enough, I need to get rid of this stuff’ hence why it is not good for long term.
So what does this have to do with burning more calories?
Basically, after you have finished your HIIT workout, you have eaten into your energy storage which needs to be replenished, and created a load of Lactic acid to be gotten rid of. Both of these things require energy to do. So, for the rest of the day, your body will be using its normal energy system (aerobic) to convert that lactic acid into C02 and H2O, and building up supplies again. This is going to mean your heart rate is slightly increased all day as you’re aerobic system is working harder than normal. So rather than just burning calories during a workout, you are burning extra calories for up to 24 hours after too!
Doesn’t that sound great?! Burning calories for a whole day after your workout!
And despite all of this great stuff about how it will help you burn fat, get toned and all round healthier, don’t forget there’s also the massive bonus that it’s fun! Rather that sitting on a bike looking at a screen for half an hour you are somewhere different, trying new exercises and never doing the same thing for more than a minute at a time. You can make anything HIIT, and you can specify your HIIT to focus on the areas you want it to! Whether it be whole body blast, legs, bums and tums, or upper body strength- You decide what you want to do.
BUT…. All this will only happen if youre doing HIIT properly. That means when you go, you push yourself to the absolute max, and you keep that rest to a minimum. This is hard to do, especially when you are new to HIIT.
That is what our great team of PTs are here to help you with, so come down and give one or our HIIT classes a go.