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HIIT Workout for Weight Loss

Updated on February 13, 2023
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Olly has a degree in French, has written for the University paper, and is an avid film, game, and exercise fan as well as a keen traveler.


Time Saving Discovery

For people who may be new to working out (or have had a long break and struggling to find the motivation to start again) exercise programs can be daunting. We’re bombarded with so much information on diet, nutrition, exercise plans full of equipment you can’t afford or have access to and even names of machines which you have to physically look up their definitions because a gym is promoting the ‘next big thing’ for weight transformation. As someone who used to workout a lot in my late teens and early twenties, the amount of change the industry has undergone is staggering. I was an avid reader of Men’s Health, went to the gym 3-4 times a week and was probably in the shape of my life despite the over exertion that a life at University has on you i.e. not a great diet and drunk too much.

7 years on I’ve let things slip. The demanding job, active social life and slower metabolism (partly due to getting older and also not exercising as much) has all contributed to me not feeling as good as I would want. 3 weeks ago I decided to do some more research on all sorts of health related topics and stumbled across something I had heard of previously but never really looked into it in any real detail – this was High Intensity Interval Training. I’m very glad I did and now sharing my findings and also some results with you.

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

High Intensity Interval Training is essentially short bursts of very intense training. The idea behind this is that you gain more benefits with shorter, more intense exercise to raise your heart rate quicker than it normally would and force your body to start burning fat. The generally accepted model is 5 min warm up, then 10-12 minutes of highly intense exercise (including 10-30 second rests) and then a medium intensity exercise to finish. It’s completely flexible though but the key is short intense bursts of around 30 seconds but with the small rest period afterwards.

Many exercises (but not all) can be done in this manner. You could sprint for 30 seconds then jog slowly for 10 seconds then repeat for 5-8 ‘sets’. Therefore the maximum time you would be doing this could be 5 minutes 20 seconds. Not very long at all but if done properly you will definitely be out of breath and feel like you’ve had a good workout. It will also be more beneficial than running for 1 hour – your body gets too acclimatised and stops really burning as much fat as you would with HIIT. This kind of process is very valuable for many sports which require ‘explosive’ movement such as squash, basketball, hockey, football and many others. Sprinters use HIIT to help them develop that explosive power.

It also gets you into the mode of exercising until you can’t do it anymore (i.e. until failure or exhausted). Notice I say exhaustion and not pain. To get the most out of it you really have to give it 100% to get the benefits. Many studies have shown that HIIT is extremely good, if not the best, method for burning fat if this is your goal. You have to be careful and if you really haven’t done much exercise in the past, please start off slowly so your body gets used to the intensity or have longer rest breaks if needed. The key however is to keep that heart rate up, keep the body moving.

Another benefit of HIIT is that you have an ‘Afterburn effect’. This means that 24-48 hours after you do HIIT your resting heart rate will be naturally higher and you’ll be burning calories more efficiently when you aren’t even working out.

Fitness Blender HIIT Workout

A slightly different version of my workout with added rest breaks
A slightly different version of my workout with added rest breaks | Source

HIIT Exercises

Many of the exercises you don’t even need any equipment – just your body. Full body movements are not only better for you, activating more muscle groups, but you can do so many at home or in the park without the need to join a costly gym. You also get the health benefits but without having to exercise for long periods of time and never get bored with the HIIT routines as they are short, intense and your mind hasn’t got time to think.

I tried this for 1 week and did 3 HIIT sessions with rest days in between (rest days are VERY important as this is when your muscles grow and recover) combined with a sensible nutrition (Lots of lean meat, vegetables, eggs and some cereals). By the end of the week I had bags more energy, a noticeable increase in muscle definition for my arms and lost around 4lb’s – Almost 2kg. This was fat loss and not muscle loss as I have scales which measure both and don’t want to lose much muscle.

In essence, HIIT has made me more excited about exercise and I no longer have the excuse of being too busy as a full session can be done in under 30 minutes and you will be tired as long as you are doing it with the right level of intensity.

These are the workouts I did over the week:

Star Jumps (Jumping Jacks) – 8 sets. 20 seconds 100% intensity. 10 second rest. 4 minutes total exercise time including rests. Whole body.
Punching Drills – 8 sets. 20 seconds 100% intensity. 10 second rest. 4 minutes total exercise time including rests. Chests, arms, shoulders.
Bodyweight Squats – 8 sets. 20 seconds 100% intensity. 10 second rest. 4 minutes total exercise time including rests. Whole body.
Leg Raises – 3 sets. 20 seconds 100% intensity. 10 second rest. 1 minute 30 seconds exercise time including rests. Legs, stomach, thighs.
Mountain climber – 8 sets. 20 seconds 100% intensity. 10 second rest. 4 minutes total exercise time including rests. Legs, stomach, chest, arms.

Stretching out muscles afterwards with lighter movement – 4-5 minutes. You can include a little light jogging on the spot to slowly ease your heart rate down if you wish to loosed up muscles.

Additional exercises to break up routine

Planks and side planks (front plank, left side plank, right side plank). 30 seconds each with no rest needed. 1 minute 30 seconds exercise time.

23 minutes total time including planks and rests

If anyone has any questions or wants help on good form for the exercises feel free to ask and I will help:-)

High Intensity Interval Training

Have You Tried HIIT Before?

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