Why HIIT Cardio Workouts Help You Lose Weight

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By now, we know that to get the most out of a workout, it is important to combine weight training with cardiovascular training. But standard, steady-state cardio is not as efficient at burning calories as what is known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The reason is that there is very little excess post-exercise oxygen consumption with steady-state cardio. This means that you are only burning calories during the exercise itself, not afterward.

HIIT for Calorie Burning

HIIT cardio, on the other hand, involves a higher rate of metabolism function, which translates into a greater number of calories being burned post-exercise. HIIT is a training idea in which low- to moderate-intensity intervals are alternated with high-intensity intervals. HIIT forces your heart rate to adjust to the demand of the changing conditions you are putting it under. As your heart learns to adapt to these changes, your metabolism kicks into high gear for hours after you finish exercising. Creating this calorie-burning furnace within your body allows you to burn an extensive amount of body fat by doing 20- to 30-minute HIIT sessions.

The Skinny on HIIT

A study performed by Jeffrey W. King of East Tennessee State University showed that HIIT increases the resting metabolic rate in the 24 hours immediately following the workout. A study from the University of New South Wales was more extensive in its research. Following the fitness and body-composition changes in 45 overweight women in a 15-week period, the women were divided into two groups and assigned either interval training or continuous cycling routines.

The interval, or “sprint,” cycling group performed about 20 minutes of exercise, with eight seconds of high intensity followed by 12 seconds of light exercise through intervals within the 20 minutes of exercise. The second group of women followed a steadier-state approach, exercising for 40 minutes at a consistent rate. At the end of the study, the women in the interval group had lost three times more body fat as the women in the continuous-exercise group.


The main concept of HIIT is to train in intervals of differing speeds. One of the most important things to remember while doing HIIT is to not allow your body to adjust to the intensity level. You should be pushing yourself to maximum effort. The key is to push through the high-intensity intervals and lower your heart rate during the low-intensity intervals.


HIIT training is versatile and can be used with many different forms of exercise, such as jump roping, sprints on the treadmill or track, stair stepper, stationary bike, and elliptical trainer. You could also incorporate HIIT when using the punching bag. To prevent injury, start HIIT sessions with a good warm-up and end them with a proper cool-down. Do not perform HIIT directly before or after a weightlifting session. Your body needs 48 to 72 hours to recover before your next HIIT workout.

Also, because you are going to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time and may be prone to cramping, make sure you constantly keep yourself hydrated. Drink lots of water before, during, and after the session.

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