High intensity interval training (HIIT) can offer significant health benefits to people with weight loss goals by burning more calories, reducing body fat, and improving general well-being.
HIIT can offer similar benefits as other types of intense workouts and exercises.
This article provides an overview of HIIT workouts, how they can help with weight loss, and which ones may be best.
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HIIT workouts are short bursts of intense exercise followed by a period of rest or low intensity workouts.
- High intensity repeated workouts alternated with short recovery periods has been gaining popularity in the past 2 decades.
- Healthcare professionals recommend HIIT as a time-efficient program to improve physical fitness, physiological functions, and cardiovascular disease risk factors.
- People choose HIIT as the most enjoyable physical activity program compared to moderate-to-vigorous continuous training.
One 2017 study examining the effect of HIIT on health outcomes found that HIIT exercises may be better than moderate-intensity workouts for maximizing health outcomes.
The Obesity Medicine Association notes that the duration of the intervals, the specific intensity, recovery periods, and the number of completed cycles within the workout can vary based on individual preference, fitness level, and goals.
Extensive research suggests that HIIT can offer various weight loss benefits.
Reduce body fat
Compared to traditional endurance exercise, HIIT may produce a similar fat loss in good time. A 2021 study that examined the effect of exercise training on fat loss found the following:
- Even without inducing weight loss, exercise training such as HIIT can reduce both total and visceral fat mass.
- HIIT can reduce the duration of exercise while exerting the same fat-reducing effect.
- Short-duration HIIT regimens are effective at reducing abdominal fat, indicating that they exert a positive effect on adipose tissue.
- HIIT-related fat loss may be due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which is the amount of oxygen a person’s body uses while exercising.
Increase muscle gain
Research from 2018 indicates that HIIT may be an effective exercise modality to stimulate muscle size in people with a higher body weight or obesity.
HIIT can help people burn a lot of calories quickly. A 2015 study examined the caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined HIIT in healthy men.
The participants performed four separate exercises for approximately 30 minutes each, including a cycling session, a typical weight training session, a treadmill session, and a HIIT session on the hydraulic system.
The researchers found that HIIT burned 25–30% more calories than the other forms of exercise for the same duration.
A healthcare professional may recommend any of the following HIIT workouts for weight loss.
The duration, intervals, intensity, recovery time, and completed cycles within a HIIT workout can vary depending on a person’s preference, fitness level, and goals.
A burpee is a two-part exercise: a push-up followed by a leap in the air.
- Start with the body in a push-up position.
- Push off the balls of the feet to bring the knees into the chest and land in a squat.
- Jump out of the squat while raising the hands before landing softly back into the squat.
- Place the hands back on the floor underneath the shoulders.
- Spring the legs back to return to the starting position.
To perform a plank jack, follow these steps:
- Start in a high plank or push-up position with the hands directly below the shoulders.
- Place the feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Jump the feet in together.
- Jump the feet back to the starting position, slightly wider than the shoulders.
- Continue jumping in and out.
- Tuck the belly toward the spine to keep the core muscles tight and engaged.
Jump squats are bodyweight exercises characterized by leaping directly upward at the top of the movement.
- Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart and the toes pointing slightly outward.
- Bend the knees pressing the hips back as if sitting on a chair, to achieve a full squat position.
- Push through both feet, including the heel and front of the foot, and jump straight up.
- Land with the knees slightly bent and return to the squat position.
- Upon landing, immediately repeat the next jump until the set is complete.
The following section answers common questions about HIIT workouts for weight loss.
Is 20 minutes of HIIT a day enough to lose weight?
Regardless of the duration, HIIT workouts can burn a high amount of calories in a short time.
It is important to note that weight loss generally occurs when a person’s calorie intake is regularly lower than the calories they burn throughout the day, including through exercise.
What type of HIIT is best for weight loss?
Several HIIT workouts can help a person lose weight effectively. Some examples include burpees, plank jacks, jump squats, push up, Russian twists, pull-ups, and bicycle crunches.
A person can speak with a fitness instructor or healthcare professional about the best HIIT workouts for their circumstances.
High intensity interval training (HITT) can offer significant health benefits to people with weight loss expectations by reducing body fat, burning calories, and improving muscular fitness and general well-being.
A healthcare professional may recommend some HIIT workouts for weight loss, including burpees, plank jacks, and jump squats.
The duration, intervals, intensity, recovery periods, and completed cycles within each workout can vary based on individual preference, fitness level, and goals.
It is important for people to speak with a healthcare professional before beginning any kind of high intensity training.