A time there was when the best advice from fitness experts was that you spend hours in the gym performing cardiovascular exercises in order to build better muscles and lose weight. However, there is a new twist to this erstwhile popular held knowledge and it is the use of high intensity interval training.
Unlike several other quick weight loss advices that most people consider to be "too good to be true", high intensity interval training (also referred to as HIIT) is rather a proven, efficient, and safe alternative to effectively lose excess body weight when compared to conventional cardio exercises.
One issue that makes conventional cardio exercises which generally employ specific training methods over a period of time inefficient in helping individuals lose weight and maintain it is the fact that after about four to eight weeks, the body typically starts adapting to this specific training method and overall effectiveness starts to reduce.
The human body is good at adapting to both internal and external conditions especially those it considers to be stressors – like exercise. Therefore, while low intensity cardiovascular exercises have the ability to help individuals lose weight, a diminishing effect is generally experienced once the body finally adapts. At this stage you may have reached a "plateau" which generally indicates that your body has successfully adapted to your current routine.
This is one of the reasons why high intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective as it does not allow the body to get used to the exercises being performed by interfering its rhythm. HIIT is a specialized form of interval training that involves the incorporation of short intervals of maximum intensity exercises with longer intervals of low to moderate intensity exercises in an exercise session.
Essentially, HIIT is you having to do a number of short burst of intestinal exercise followed by a longer recovery interval and the repeat of this sequence during your exercise session. This abrupt interval jolt automatically – howbeit unexpectedly – turn things up a bit forcing the body to search for more energy to satisfy the sudden increase in demand.
The body has three major options for sourcing energy fuel to satisfy this increased demand and these are – carbohydrates, fat, and protein and which can be obtained from either the bloodstream or the muscles.
Unlike carbohydrate, fat generally require more energy to burn and is considered a low burning energy and is what is mostly used during cardio exercises as there is sufficient oxygen in the bloodstream for its oxidation at this intensity level. However, if sufficient intensity is applied to aerobic exercises, the body suddenly runs short of oxygen supply and these results in a reduction in the amount of fat than can be oxidized by the body.
Consequently, for the body to be able to keep up with this abrupt energy demand, it typically turns to carbohydrates which are a faster burning energy. At moderate intensity, the body can source carbohydrates (in the form of glucose) from the bloodstream but at higher intensities it generally turns to the glycogen (mixture of water and glucose) in the muscles.
At high intensity the body is said to be exercising in an anaerobic state – where the body is exercising so fast or energetically that the bloodstream can not supply enough oxygen to the muscles forcing them to exercise without oxygen.
Having expired most of the glycogen in the muscles during the short energy burst, the body resorts to its stored body fat during the recovery interval and this cycle continues to the end of the exercise session. This routine generally creates a significant energy deficiency in the body.
However, it is actually after the high intensity interval training itself that the effectiveness of this routine is experienced. This is due to the fact that the body continues to burn its stored fat while attempting to replace the expired muscle glycogen. It has been demonstrated that this fat burning process can continue for up to 48 hours after performing HIIT exercises and therein lays the awesome power of HIIT – supercharged increase in basal metabolic rate (BMR).
HIIT can be used during your sprinting, swimming, rowing, cycling, walking, or cardio machine (stationary bike, cross-trainer, or treadmill) exercise sessions. Incorporating HIIT into your regular fitness routines will enable you to increase your overall endurance, improve your oxygen intake, build new metabolically active muscles, and also burn calories much faster.
However, HIIT is pretty physically demanding and definitely not mean for everyone. It is there recommended that those who are reliably new to aerobics, who are not in good shape, have cardiovascular problems, or any other serious health concerns, should endeavor to start with low to moderate intensity exercises for some time before trying any form of high intensity interval training.
In summary, it can be categorically stated that high intensity interval training is the best way to go for any individual who is really serious about losing weight. If you've seen little or no results from your conventional cardio exercises, it is time to turn to a more efficient, effective, and safe weight loss strategy by making use of high intensity interval training.