If you’re anything like me, you hate wasting time. And, again, if you’re anything like me, you probably once spent hours in the gym because you thought it was the ‘right way’ to burn fat and get lean. Here’s the kicker: I’m willing to bet that all of that time, effort, and energy spent in the gym didn’t even quite bring the results you wanted. I’ve been there.
But then I learned about the science of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and the monumental benefits it can bring to any strength-training program. With HIIT you can exercise for just 10 to 20 minutes or so and see greater results than you did after all those hour-long treadmill jogs. In HIIT you alternate between short bursts of high-intensity work and short periods of rest.
HIIT is less about what you do than it is about how you do it. You can perform these intense intervals on a treadmill, track, rowing machine, or by jumping rope, doing jumping jacks, and all sorts of other exercises. No matter where you are, you can unleash the power of HIIT.
For HIIT to be effective, though, you need to take that ‘high-intensity’ part seriously. Ten minutes of sprinting your butt to the bone is a heck of a lot different than jogging with your dog for 10 minutes. If you’re rowing, row like Jaws is trying to catch you, if you’re sprinting, you’re sprinting for your life. You have to commit to working hard to see those results. Think of it this way: Train hard, look hard. As far as I’m concerned, effort and intensity trump time spent working out every time.
When you do HIIT workouts, you really challenge your body’s ability to transport oxygen and nutrients where you need them—and it has to work a lot harder to recover once the workout is over.
Because of that, HIIT can:
- Boost your calorie-burn all day and help you shed fat
- Improve your VO2 max, which basically measures how good your body is at transporting oxygen during exercise
- Boost your performance and athleticism in just about any sport
- Support cardiovascular endurance and heart health
- Save you time in the gym so you can live your life
Do you think the most athletic pros in the NFL are jumping on the StairMaster or walking on the treadmill at 50 percent effort for 50 minutes three or four times a week to get ready for the season? No! Top level athletes perform (and look) like as insane as they do because they train that way. They sprint and grind at 100 percent.
You may not be a pro athlete, but that’s the mentality I want you to have when you train. How much HIIT you’ll do each week depends on your goals. I recommend people add between one and three HIIT sessions to their weekly workout routine, depending on their goals. Hard-gainers or anyone looking to pack on size may want to stick to one HIIT session a week, so that they keep their cardiovascular fitness up without dropping weight. But guys looking to shed fat can definitely benefit from three HIIT workouts a week.
Here’s a basic HIIT workout I share with my clients for on-the-go: Depending on your ability level and how much time you have, you’ll perform 10 to 20 rounds of 10 seconds of hard work followed by 30 seconds of rest. You can cycle through a number of bodyweight exercises from round to round, including jumping jacks, pushups, bodyweight squats, or squat jumps.
Try it out for yourself!
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