High-intensity interval training is a workout trend that hasn’t stopped gaining momentum for over a decade, and for good reason: it works. Although it may sound intimidating to some people, some recent studies have shown that it’s a pretty enjoyable experience, overall.
This is not to say that other forms of exercise are inefficient. On the contrary, the body needs a plethora of different movement done at different intensity levels in order to really maximize its potential. That being said, there really isn’t a protocol that is as effective in as little time as HIIT.
For those that have never encountered this workout, HIIT is an umbrella term for many different protocols that share the same main trait: the point is to work at 90-100% of your maximum heart rate for a short period of time (which can range anywhere from 10 seconds to 1 minute) and then work out for another time period (usually a bit longer or the same length as the high-intensity one) at low intensity or complete rest.
This way you will maximize fat-burning, increase your metabolic rate as well as oxygen consumption, reduce the risk of heart disease and gain lean muscle. While HIIT is often advertised like a fat-burning machine, there are people who don’t train in order to burn fat, leaving them wondering if HIIT is really right for them.
The short answer to this would be a resounding YES, HIIT is good for everyone. Keep reading to learn the best HIIT workout for your specific needs, what can you expect to gain by doing HIIT and some nutritional tips on how to achieve your fitness goals.
Basics of HIIT
Because it’s both aerobic and anaerobic, HIIT isn’t exactly the same as cardio. However because it requires you to do quick and intense bursts of activity, it’s hard to imagine a pull-up, push-up or a deadlift HIIT routine. It’s just not how those moves are done.
In our opinion, the best way to do HIIT is by using your own bodyweight and cranking up the intensity with the guidance of an expert trainer. That’s why our Metafit workouts include exercises that minimize the possibility of injury and stay within true HIIT protocols.
Before going into a HIIT workout, make sure you’re properly warmed-up. A lot of people disregard preparing their bodies for this kind of stress, eventually doing more harm than good.
One thing to remember about HIIT is that it isn’t a daily workout. It should be done 3 times a week at most, and most people would actually benefit from doing it once or twice per week along with other cardio and strength exercises.
HIIT for Weight Loss
When we say weight loss, we mean fat loss. Any kind of weight loss that isn’t fat loss means that you’ve either lost water weight (a great start!) or that you’re losing muscle weight, which isn’t what 99.99% are after.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while HIIT is a great way to accelerate your fat loss, it all starts and ends with what you eat.
Here’s our recommendation of an ideal workout schedule for weight loss.
- Monday – Total body strength training
- Tuesday – Metafit HIIT workout
- Wednesday – MetaPWR workout (resistance circuit)
- Thursday – Metafit HIIT workout
- Friday – Total body strength training
- Saturday – MetaPRO (SAQ)
- Sunday – Yoga/Pilates or rest
HIIT for Weight Gain
Needless to say, the weight gain we’re after is actually muscle gain, and again, that is best achieved in the kitchen, by eating a lot of lean proteins after workouts and with regular meals as well. Those who are going for a bulkier look shouldn’t do too much HIIT and should do 1 to 2 HIIT sessions a week, for the sake of their heart health and lung capacity.
- Monday – Lower body strength training
- Tuesday – MetaPWR resistance workout
- Wednesday – Upper body strength training
- Thursday – Metafit HIIT Workout
- Friday – Lower body strength training
- Saturday – Upper body strength training
- Sunday – MetaPRO SAQ/ Yoga/Pilates or rest
There is a lot of information online about what a healthy diet should look like, and what’s an ideal approach to losing fat and/or gaining muscle. The truth is, the only advice you should wholeheartedly take is the one given by an allied health professional (dietician), which we’re not. Also, there’s no point in creating a perfect diet, if no one is going to follow it. That’s why we’ve gathered some reasonable and doable advice on nutrition which we believe is safe for most people to follow.
Fat Loss Nutrition Tips
- Include fresh veggies in every meal – they will fill you up and provide nutrients your body needs
- Eat some green vegetables every day
- Cut down on carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, rice, etc. but there’s no need to eliminate them. Baked/boiled potatoes are especially healthy in moderation and will make you feel full.
- Eliminate or cut to a minimum: added sugars, sweets and fast food. Indulge in them only on special occasions (and no, the end of the work week isn’t a special occasion)
- Healthy fats will keep you fuller for longer periods of time
- Eliminate snacking throughout the day
- Drink enough water
- Experiment with intuitive eating and 16:8 intermittent fasting
- Sleep well and don’t stress – it can mess with your cortisol levels
Muscle Gain Nutrition Tips
- Increase the amount of protein you eat in every meal
- Eat a carb snack before a workout
- Eat a high protein snack after your workout
- Increase healthy carb intake
- Include fresh veggies in every meal
With a balanced diet that is adjusted to your needs and lifestyle, HIIT can really do wonders for your looks. It’ll build lean muscle, speed-up the fat-burning process and make you feel like you can take on the world. Additionally, you will essentially train your heart muscle every time you do HIIT, making it stronger by the day, thus increasing both your aerobic and anaerobic capacities.
While there are no rules to when you will start noticing results, the general rule is that you’ll start noticing the first changes in your look and abilities after 3-4 weeks of regular training and that others will start noticing the changes after 2-4 months. Patience is key when it comes to change.
The way to know you’re really doing HIIT and not just moderate-intensity cardio (if you don’t have a heart-rate tracker) is to make yourself go out of breath in those short bursts of activity. Give it your all and sweat a lot – the pain and tiredness will go away quickly and the results will come back to you tenfold.