Spinning. Tae Bo. Yoga. P90X.
The fitness industry is forever forming new trends and hot “buzz worthy” workouts promising to FINALLY hold the key to the weight loss so many people want.
The latest “trend” that has everyone talking is High Intensity Interval Training, also known as HIIT. The supposed secret to these effective “miracle” workouts? Short bursts of all-out effort mixed with quick periods of rest, combined for a complete cardio workout in half the time.
If you watch morning TV, you’ve probably heard about the Seven Minute Workout that’s supposed to be all you need to be healthy and get fit. It’s made up of 12 mostly bodyweight moves, each repeated for 1:00 with just :15 rest in between each.
Just as the Seven Minute Workout was becoming the hottest new thing, a new study came out claiming four minutes is enough each day to make significant improvements to health and fitness- forget the other three!
The Four Minutes Workout is based on an idea called Tabata, which consists of :20 of all-out effort followed by :10 rest, repeated for a total of four minutes.
Are these workouts effective? The short answer- yes. Working at your maximum intensity, even for a shorter period of time followed by a period of recovery is highly effective for challenging your body and increasing your metabolism.
HIIT has been scientifically proven to increase something called EPOC, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (also known as “after burn”), which means your body keeps burning calories at a higher rate after you are done exercising than it would if you exercised at a steady state for twice the time.
There’s no question these shorter, higher intensity workouts WORK. But the question I often get asked is, “is seven (or four) minutes really all I need?”
The answer to that question is no.
If you only have five or ten minutes a day to workout, it is better than nothing. Is that enough to get you in the best shape of your life? Probably not.
It is, however, a great place to start. If you are new to HIIT, begin with a four or seven minute routine, and as you get comfortable, increase the length of the workout by repeating that same routine up to five times. Be sure to rest about 2:00 in between each set.
HIIT training is best when done three or four times a week for a duration of 20-30 minutes. You do not want or need to work at that high an intensity for more than that.
So don’t be fooled by the media hype. There will always be new trends popping up claiming to be the new secret to weight loss we’ve all been searching for. In reality, the truth doesn’t change. In order to lose weight, get fit and be healthy you need to challenge your body for up to 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week.
There are an infinite number of ways to do that. The secret is finding the one that works for you.