For an investment of just six minutes a day, you can blast your fat cells with the most effective calorie burning system on the planet. But it may just be the hardest six minutes of your life… Can you hack it?
“More is better” is a mantra that our society has come to embrace. When it comes to exercise, however, more is better doesn’t quite stack up. You can work out hard or you can work out long, but you can’t do both. It’s the difference between a jog, which you can (hopefully) do for an hour, and a sprint, which you’ll be lucky to stick at for 30 seconds.
The Science Is In
For decades, researchers have been debating which of these extremes are best for fat loss. Recent studies have shown that high intensity fitness, which allows you to get the best possible result for the shortest time investment, is by far the most effective way to burn fat. Here’s why:
- High Intensity exercises expend more calories while training than low intensity work-outs. (1)
- High Intensity exercises initiate at excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect. This process revs up your metabolism for 24 hours after the workout. (2)
- High Intensity training is extremely time efficient. In fact, you can get your entire workout in, including warm-up, in just 6 minutes.
HIIT Your Fat Cells
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the way to go for fast fat loss. To perform HIIT, you simply choose a cardiovascular exercise that you will be able to perform to full exertion.
You do that movement for 20 seconds to absolute max intensity and then give yourself a 10 second recovery before doing it all again, and again and again. In fact you do 8 intervals back to back. Then you collapse on the floor! So, how about it? Are you up to the HIIT challenge?
How To HIIT It
Step One: Psych Up for Success: This is hard work. You need to be prepared to push beyond your comfort zone – and then keep going. Never slow down, always dig deeper and don’t leave anything in the tank.
Step Two: Choose your exercise and get in place. If it’s sprinting, get out on an open field, cycling is best done on an exercycle. A rowing machine is also a great choice. Make sure that you have a stopwatch or, even better, a partner with a stop watch.
Step Three: Do a 2 minute warm-up focusing on exaggerated motions that allow you to move all of your joints.
Step Four: Begin your first sprint. Power into it at maximum intensity. If running, imagine that you’re being chased by a hungry Rottweiler. Push through for a total of 20 seconds.
Step Five: Jog, or walk, for exactly 10 seconds – take deep breaths and pysch yourself up for your next sprint.
Step Six: Sprint for another 20 seconds. Try to maintain the same intensity as during your first sprint. Push to the limit. Then recover for 10 seconds before repeating 4 more times.
Is HITT training appropriate for beginners?
Yes, as long as you warm up. While you’re getting used to the program, you need to build up the intensity. So, in the 20 second ‘go’ phase, start at an intensity level that prevents you from talking and then increase the speed each session until you are truly going all out.
What scientific studies have been done to support HITT training?
In 1996, Professor Izuni Tabata led a study involving Olympic speed skaters who performed 20 seconds of ultra-intense exercise followed by a 10 second recovery. This was repeated for 8 cycles. A control group did steady state training. The first group showed a higher increase in V02 max as well as greater anaerobic benefits.(1)
Since then, there have been a number of studies that have supported Tabata’s findings. A 2009 study by Gibala, et al showed that HITT training for just a few minutes brought greater benefits in terms of cardiovascular fitness and fat loss than steady state training that lasted much longer.(2)
Your six-minute investment will yield huge results in terms of both cardio fitness and fat reduction. But it won’t be easy. Do it right and you’ll be on the floor, out of breath and dripping with sweat at the end of it. It may take you another few minutes to recover. But then you’ll be able to walk away, hit the shower and get on with your day.