How Interval Training Boosts Weight Loss and Improves Health

How Interval Training Boosts Weight Loss and Improves Health

Many people think they need to spend hours on the cardio machines in order to promote great heart-health. Well, apparently it’s not necessarily the case.

In fact, it has been proven that interval training is far more effective at not only boosting cardiovascular health, but also at boosting your metabolic rate, improving strength and power, and for helping to enhance the overall fat burning process.

What is Interval Training?

This exercise method, which is also called HIIT or high-intensity interval training) is about intervals of high-intensity exercise and low-intensity exercise. In this training, you do a cardiovascular exercise (such as running, cycling, swimming) at the highest intensity you can manage, then shift to a moderate intensity, do high intensity again, then moderate, and so on.

This type of exercise is also called “metabolic burst” training, as the sudden burst you do in the high-intensity exercise also results in a burst of calorie-burning. Because of the sudden “burst” you give to your body, it also suddenly releases energy.

The low-intensity period, meanwhile, is essential for the body to get rid of the waste products in the muscles you are using in the exercise. It is important to keep a moderate intensity of exercise and not go into total rest. This is to ensure that the release of energy is continuous.

For those who want to boost metabolism primarily to lose weight, here’s the good news: after a few weeks of interval training, expect to burn more fat than usual.

A study by exercise scientist Dr. Jason Talanian supports this claim. The aim of the study was “to examine the effects of seven high-intensity aerobic interval training (HIIT) sessions over 2 wk on skeletal muscle fuel content, mitochondrial enzyme activities, fatty acid transport proteins, peak O2 consumption (V̇o2 peak), and whole body metabolic, hormonal, and cardiovascular responses to exercise.”

The study found that “Exercise whole body fat oxidation increased by 36%.”

This is the reason I’ve included interval training as one of the exercise methods to burn belly fat in my e-book Blast Your Belly Fat.

How to Do Interval Training (HIIT)?

You need to start your session with a 5-10 minute warm-up of light activity to get your body ready.

Next, you’ll alternate between high to moderate intensity exercise.

Interval training can be done for almost any type of cardiovascular exercise –running, biking, swimming, rowing, or skipping are all great examples.

For running, the rest period can be brisk walking;

For biking and swimming, the activity can be done at a slower but moderate pace.

The high-intensity and moderate-intensity exercise can also be slightly different. For example, the high-intensity exercise may be briskly walking up the stairs while the low-intensity exercise may be brisk walking on a flat surface.

Each interval should last between one to four minutes, depending on your fitness level. The moderate-intensity period can be shorter or longer than your high-intensity exercise, depending on your condition. Just ensure that your moderate-intensity exercise really still has intensity while allowing your body to rest for the next burst of high-intensity exercise.

Perform your personal best for the high-intensity exercise – being almost out of breath is a good sign. For example, sprint for 60 seconds and then jog or walk at a more comfortable pace for two minutes. Perform five to ten cycles for a complete workout.

You can apply variety to your exercise routines to work different muscles and for your own enjoyment, especially if you get bored with the same exercise routines.

At the end of the session allow 5-10 minutes for cool down.

How Long Each Interval Training Should Last

Doing your interval training routine for a total of 30 minutes achieves optimal results, but you will need to start gradually to build up your fitness, so start with a shorter amount of time and build it up gradually.

Do take note that if you cannot do 30 minutes of traditional cardio training straight, you will need to work on that first. Interval training is a more advanced conditioning session and is suitable only for those who have a base level of fitness already in place.

How Often to Do Interval Training

This workout system can be done up to three days per week, doing it every other day. As it is so intense, you’ll want to have that day off between sessions in order to recover and come back feeling stronger than you were before.

HIIT Sample Program

Here is an example of weekly schedule for your workout:

Day 1: Strength and resistance exercises (such as dumbbells, resistance band or barbell exercises)
Day 2: Interval training exercises
Day 3: Strength and resistance exercises
Day 4: Interval training exercises
Day 5: Strength and resistance exercises
Day 6: Interval training exercises
Day 7: Rest

As you can see, strength exercises and interval training are done on alternate days. This is to facilitate recovery of the muscles you use. Also don’t ever do your strength exercise workout right after your interval training workout – this will slow down the process of muscle building.

One day without exercise during the week is also crucial for your body to make a full recovery.

HIIT – A Word of Caution

It should be emphasized that you should never push your body to fatigue. Doing so would trigger a stress response in your body, which may have serious effects on your metabolism.

The link between stress and metabolism was discussed in a study which illustrated how stress and depression alter metabolic responses to high-fat meals in ways that promote obesity. You can also read my article about how stress affects your body.

Also, make sure that you breathe normally throughout the exercises so that your body is not stressed.

Always perform warm-up exercises before your routine and cool-down exercises after. For a warm-up, a cardio of moderate intensity would be a good example. For a cool-down, a total body stretch will relax your muscles. Breathing exercises will also help in relaxing.

Interval training sure beats normal cardiovascular training. Also, normal cardiovascular exercise usually takes longer as its objective is endurance. However with interval training you only need 30 minutes or less and you’ll get significant results in just a few weeks.

Interval training is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.

Medical Resources:

Healthy and Natural World