In the world of weight-loss strategies, we've heard about everything from dancing to high-intensity programs. It's hard to tell what's really effective, and what's not. Physical activity of any kind will help you lose weight and keep it off over the long term, but scientific studies have proven that interval training is a more effective way to lose weight, boost metabolism, and become more fit.
Interval training, sometimes referred to as high intensity interval training or HIIT, consists of exercising at a high level of exertion for a short period of time, followed by exercising at a lower level, then repeating that pattern several times. For decades athletes have used interval training to increase performance. Research now shows that interval training can help people burn more fat and lose weight, too.
Interval training can boost your metabolism and keep it up when you are not exercising. In most cases, the high intensity part of the workout will include cardiovascular exercises that involve weight-bearing exercises, which use large muscle groups of the body. This requires the body to work very hard to supply energy, thus burning a lot of calories.
In addition, depending on the type of workout, the body will build muscle mass, thus boosting your metabolism, even when you are at rest. This will result in the reduction of body fat. Additional benefits include improved cardiovascular fitness (known as the ability for the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen to the muscles) and improved stamina, even during low to moderate exercise. Interval workouts will also provide a change in your normal routine, and are generally shorter than your normal moderate-intensity cardio session. They are highly motivating and can be a lot of fun.
During the beginning of the short-burst/high-intensity work, the body recruits new muscle fibers. Over time, these fibers become more effective at burning carbs and fat, even when the body isn't working very hard, or at rest. This happens on a cellular level, specifically in the mitochondria (or power house) of the cell. The rest/low-intensity section of the interval allows the body to get rid of waste products accumulated during the hard work, allowing for you to go as hard for the next round.
Some things need to be addressed before interval training. First, it's essential that the body is warmed up properly before doing intervals. At least 10 minutes of low-moderate activity and stretching should do the job.
Second, it's important to realize that interval-training programs are very vigorous in nature. If you're obese, or have health concerns like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint problems, pregnancy or osteoporosis, you will need to consult your doctor prior to participating to ensure your safety. It's important to ease into an interval-training program, especially if you're new to exercising.