OK, let’s be honest now. How much exercise do you REALLY need to do? We love
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) because it promises to get you fit, burn calories,
and help you lose weight in less than 30 minutes per session.
But is that really true? Or some kind of fitness-industry smoke and mirrors?
HIIT Is The Trend That Won’t Go Away
For the fourth year in a row, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) has been named as
a top fitness trend by the American College of Sports Medicine. Now, correct me if
I’m wrong, but a trend doesn’t usually stick around for years without so much as a
blemish to its name.
So I agree with the ACSM that HIIT is great*, but I don’t think it’s a trend.
It burns calories, blasts fat, helps you retain important muscle mass, and gives you
the “afterburn” effect of ECOC. All in MUCH less time than a regular slow workout.
How long should a HIIT session be?
Can you really just use bodyweight? (surely you need at least some fitness equipment?)
Can you do it at home, or do you need to be in a gym?
Is it really true that you can get fit and lose weight in less than 30 minutes?
Let’s Sort The HIIT Truth From The Myths
How Much Do You Need To Do?
Most people could tell you that HIIT exercise is short and intense.
But exactly how much do you need to do to start making changes to your fitness?
After all, there’s a big difference between 10 minutes and 30 minutes
(although both are better than an hour if you’re constantly pushed for time!)
A New Meta-analysis Recently Looked At Sprint Exercise
Surprisingly, the results strongly suggest that 2 x 20-second sprints have a big effect on your
fitness – but extra sprints don’t have as much of an effect.
So according to Professor Vollaard (the guy who did the meta-analysis)
you could achieve the majority of your workout gains in just 2 x 20-second efforts
That Could Mean As Little As 9 Minutes
That sounds great. But I’m going to be the voice of reason! 9 minutes of exercise will
not burn a lot of calories (even when we add in the “afterburn” effect).
So if you’re looking to lose weight, you need to do more.
However, those 2 x 20-second flat-out sprints will have big benefits for your health,
including reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
So let’s not discount it completely.
Want To Try The 2 x 20 Second Sprint Technique?
Choose your equipment wisely.
It’s really difficult to get “up to speed” for 20 seconds using a treadmill or stationary bike.
Try hill sprints outside: find a steep hill, warm-up, then sprint HARD
from the bottom for 20 seconds and walk back down to recover.
But I Do Want To Lose Weight…
OK. So how much HIIT do you need to do to make a dent in your calorie deficit?
The best length of your workout depends on your goals, your experience, and how
much time you’ve got.
But you CAN get a lot done in less than 30 minutes – the key is in knowing what to do.
A Sample Workout Layout
0-5 minutes: Full body warm up including dynamic stretching
5-20 minutes: Focus on pairs of bodyweight training moves.
This means you’ll never need to lose time by “resting” completely,
but you can shift attention from one move to another. This is called super-setting.
For example, you could go from a push up directly into a pullup, Alternating between exercises keeps your heart rate elevated and allows you to work for different muscle groups.
You could get 3-4 pairs of exercises into one main workout.
20-25 minutes: cool down to bring the heart rate back down and allow the body to start recovering
25-30 minutes: you can be out the door!
See – THAT’S how to get a really effective, fat-burning workout into much less than
30 minutes. Done!
We have loads of workout suggestions on our YouTube channel –
check them out here and give them a go at home.