The Hidden Power of HIIT

by Belinda on December 23, 2014

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Let me tell you a true story……

Back long ago, when I was an unfit, overweight, cellulite ridden corporate executive……

….I bought a surfboard. And because my dream was bigger than the chubby body that I had squeezed into my wetsuit….every time I went out to surf, I paddled my little heart out. Despite getting smunched by unforgiving waves, held under by powerful rips, manhandled by sharp rocks (and even bopped on the head by my own board sometimes) then finally washed back to shore – I would catch my breath and bravely try again.   This went on for months and months and months until one day I found myself “out the back” where there were no endless lines of whitewater – just open sea and perfect lines of swell rolling in.  It was magical – I had finally done it!  I was “a surfer”.   Now I just had to catch a real wave lol!

It was around that time that one day I noticed my body looked “different”.

 

I had lost weight, I had less cellulite and for the first time in my life I looked relatively “healthy” – even though my eating hadn’t changed much at that point. And as I kept surfing, my body kept changing.

Just recently, looking back on that period of my life, I realized that unbeknownst to me – I was actually doing High Intensity Interval Training – grand Poohbah of cardio!

In contrast, I have my other story from my executive days…of endless elliptical journeys through 60 minutes of iTunes…which then after several months all that I had achieved was knowing the exact order of the songs and all the lyrics off by heart.  Don’t get me wrong, steady state cardio is fine sometimes (if you can’t to high impact exercise, you are doing intense weight lifting frequently or if you are recovering from an injury or illness for example) but it shouldn’t be what you do all the time.. especially if you’re beyond ‘beginner’.

But here’s the moral of my stories: if you really want to transform, then don’t kill yourself with endless low intensity cardio.  Try HIIT!

Because I know this, recently when I needed to get out of my burnout funk, I tried something new to energize and challenge myself. I got my first brand new bike since I was 10 years old!

 

Now even if you are fit, starting something new is always a physical challenge – and I am no different.  But I just had to ride FAST, and soon the wind was rushing through my hair, my quads were on fire and I was way out of breath – OK, slow down and recover …but then I couldn’t resist taking off again on my FAST BIKE!  I felt like I was 10 years old again.

And then I realized – even though I was exercising for fun here I was doing HIIT…again!

You see, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is all about alternating periods of short intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. And it offers heaps of benefits over traditional forms of cardio.

 

 1. HIIT Burns Fat Not Muscle

 

The very first reason why HIIT is the most optimal form of training to burn fat and sculpt your muscles is because it’s going to help you burn fat, not lean muscle mass.

 

2. HIIT Will Lean You Down While Sculpting The Body

 

HIIT is anabolic in nature so it will promote the release of muscle building hormones in the body such as testosterone and growth hormone to help create more definition.

 

3. HIIT Raises The Fat Burning Metabolism In The Body

 

When you perform HIIT, you’re going to increase some of the natural fat burning enzymes that help to speed up the fat burning reactions taking place both while exercising as well as at rest.  And while you may not think the results will be all that dramatic even if you can elevate your basal metabolic rate 10 calories per hour over the 24 hour period after performing HIIT training, this would translate to an additional 240 calories per day.  If you do 3 HIIT sessions per week, that means that you’ll lose almost an additional full pound of body fat simply due to the fact that you were doing HIIT training over regular style training.

 

4. HIIT Is Less Stressful On Tendons And Joints

 

Long duration cardio training, especially when running is your mode of chosen activity is going to get very hard on the body, eventually causing chronic injuries such as knee and back pain to set in.

HIIT, being that it is so short in duration and the fact that it only needs to be performed a few times per week is going to be far less taxing on the body and will ensure that you come into each session feeling recovered rather than feeling as though you’re dragging every second of the way.

 

How To Do It!

 

1. Before starting you should be able to exercise for at least 20-30 minutes at 70-85% of your estimated maximum heart rate, without exhausting yourself or having any problems.

2. It’s important to gradually build so that you don’t overdo it. Always warm up and cool down for at least five minutes before and after each HIIT session.

3. Work as hard as you can during the high intensity intervals, until you feel the burning sensation in your muscles indicating that you have entered your anaerobic zone.

4. Full recovery from this point takes around four minutes. If you experience any chest pain or breathing difficulties during your HIIT workout, cool down immediately.

5. If your heart rate does not drop back down to about 70% of your max during recovery intervals, you may need to shorten your work intervals and/or lengthen your recovery intervals.

Remember that there are so many different ways that you can be doing HIIT, so don’t think that it’s a one size fits all approach.  Experiment with different types (swimming, biking, boxing, kick-boxing, skipping, bodyweight circuits), different interval lengths, and so on until you find out what works perfectly for you.

What’s your cardio story? Any questions or comments please post below and stay tuned for my next blog on how to build a mind-blowing body (in your living room) with Asymmetrical Variance Training!

Talk soon,

Bel xo

P.S. If you need more guidance on how to get started or incorporate HIIT into your program check out my:

Get Lean 90 Day Transformation Program

 

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer September 3, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Menopausal .. 54 years old …. 5’4″ tall … 142 lbs … Need to firm up and lose weight…. Nothing seems to be working.

Reply

Belinda September 3, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Hi Jennifer, lovely to meet you! Take a read of this post, I think you’ll find it helpful:

http://belindabennsblog.com/crazy-post-40-hormones-fat-loss-fitness-staying-sane/

Then check out my Get Lean Program or message me via my Help Desk with more details about what exercise you’ve been doing and what your eating is like :)

I will do my best to help! Bel xo

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Catherine March 27, 2015 at 12:44 am

Hi Belinda
What is the best way to incorporate HIIT training with weight training?
Thanks
Cath

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Belinda March 27, 2015 at 12:53 am

Hi Catherine, lovely to meet you and great question! There are many options depending your personal program and goals. If you could give me a little information about your routine I can advise from there. Let me know what type of weight training you’re doing and how often. Your current weight, trouble zones and goals. And what cardio you’ve been doing if any.

Talk soon! Bel

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Mary January 26, 2013 at 8:04 am

Hi Belinda,

I’m a “Joey” follower and have recently found your blog. After many years of long distance runs, my knees cannot take high impact activities anymore. Do you have any suggestions for me on a type of interval routine I might try? Running and rope skipping are out.

Great blog! You are truly inspirational. My 45th b-day is in July – I’d like to celebrate in a bikini! :)

Cheers!
Mary

Reply

Belinda January 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Hi Mary, lovely to meet you! I normally recommend cardio bodyweight circuits, that alternate faster high intensity moves with slower recovery exercises. It works really well, not only to burn fat but also stimulate muscle toning to tighten and firm. Apart from joining my member site Aussie Transformation Coach where you can get access to these workout videos I recommend choosing your favorite bodyweight moves – say 6-8, a combo of slower and faster ones and alternating them in a circuit for at least 20 minutes, up to 30.

I hope this helps and please let me know how it goes…bring on that bikini body!!

Bel

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Nadège November 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Hi Belinda,

I pratice HIIT everyday (squats, jumps, running, abs…). I read that the most interesting sport to do in HIIT for fat loss was biking. Is it true ? Isn’t running even more effective for fat loss?

I apologize for the mistake I can write, English is not my native language (I am French).

Bye

Nadège

Reply

Belinda November 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Hi Nadège, there’s no black and white answer but I do know the body adapts very quickly to any type of exercise, so alternative different forms of HIIT on different days or trying something new every 4-6 weeks is most effective. Sprints and hill running are intense. Bike riding can also be if you include hills.

Even a boxing class can be incredibly demanding and awesome HIIT.

To achieve your best body, incorporating new challenges on an ongoing basis is the way to go!

Thank you for visiting my blog…if something isn’t clear please post again and I’ll do my best to explain.

Belinda xo

Reply

Nadège November 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Thanks for your answer, Belinda.

You are completely right : the best thing to do is to change the exercise type so the body has to adapt again.
HIIT is not very popular yet in France. Many people are convinced that only long training can give good results in fat loss. I do my best to explain my friends why HIIT is even more effective, but French people are stubbron at times :)

Can you tell me what HIIT exercises you do yourself ?

Bye

Nadège

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Belinda November 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Yes a lot of people have that misconception – to the detriment of their health (the body wears out from over training) and steady state cardio doesn’t build the muscle density that comes from a more dynamic style of training which sculpts and tones the body. For example, many women who do long distance running and are of an average weight still suffer from cellulite.

I alternate running hills/walking or sprints/walking with bike riding and some HIIT bodyweight workouts. I love to swim occasionally or box and of course my number one passion in life —– surfing, it is the ultimate for me because of the paddling, duck diving and riding the waves……

Ohhh..now I want to go surfing!! Bel

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Nadine August 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Dear Belinda,

I have a small question regarding using the treadmill,what’s your advise for the bellow points for fat burning and shape:

The time for using the treadmill per day.
the limit of the speed and incline ,as i used to increase the incline as much as i can , and later on i start having some aches in my knees ,although somebody advice me to keep the incline as zero and only increase the speed .
How many time should i use the jumping rope.

Thanks in advance
Nadine

Reply

Belinda August 28, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Hi Nadine,

If you can give me some more information it will make it easier to answer your questions!

What other workouts/exercise are you doing? What is your nutrition/eating like?

How long are you using the treadmill at the moment? How you using the jump rope – if so how long?

How much weight do you want to lose?

Belinda

Reply

The Get In Shape Girl June 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm

True Story!! I had run half marathons, not getting lean like I wanted. Then I started HIIT and circuit training and now I have the body I always wanted!

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Belinda June 21, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Exactly Beautiful Kyra! So many of my Get Leaners have similar stories…incredible!

So sweet to hear from you!

Bel xo

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Francisca June 13, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Hi Belinda!

I’m sooo happy that I found you! I always did sports since I was 6 years old but I always, always, ALWAYS hated running. Believe me, I’ve tried and I got up to running one hour four days a week. But I still hated it with all my heart. Then I did fencing for a while which was great cardio but stop after 6 years. Even though I remain fit, I can’t seem to unbulk my legs (no matter how much cardio I do). Do you think this should help? I watch what I eat and I do HIIT 2 to 3 times a week. Why aren’t my legs getting any slimmer? I have to much volume.

Thank you so much for all your videos and posts! :)

Reply

Belinda June 13, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Hello Francisca! I am happy you found me :)

It’s difficult to answer your question specifically without a little more information; your height, current weight, body fat % if you know it, what kind of training have you been doing up until now, are you carrying any extra bulk/fat/weight anywhere else on your body? HIIT is great for fat burning for slimming down your legs – it depends on whether you have over developed muscle there or excess body fat.

Give me a little more information and I will see what I can advise to help you!

Belinda xo

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Francisca June 14, 2012 at 5:07 am

I don’t know the % of body fat but I’m 5’6 tall and my weight is around 60kg. Sometimes I’m at 58 and still have really hardcore bulky legs. The rest of my body is in shape even though I’m not as lean as an athlete. What do you think?

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Belinda June 14, 2012 at 7:49 am

What kind of training/exercise have you been doing in the past years – and over the last 6 months?

Belinda

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Francisca June 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

Hiit 2/3 times a week and total body exercises just with bodyweight or with some light free weights. I’m a hourglass by the way.

ewa May 21, 2012 at 4:14 am

hoi, just wanted to say after trying out in a month some of your exercises 3-4 times a week 30 min a time not longer finally i can wear jeans size smaller, my winter baby fat( first layer) gone and it was just a small start, thanks a lot for a lot o free videos, im going to get your program end may, i just wanted to proof myself that i can stick to plan for at least a month before i go for something
Greetings and have great day

Reply

Belinda May 21, 2012 at 8:43 am

Hola! That is great news Ewa :) :) Thanks for letting me know. I like your logical committed approach. With that dedication and attitude you are going to be amazed what is possible on my full program once you get into the dedicated workouts and even add in healthy eating.

I wish you had some “before pics”….maybe you kind find some and then take some “progress” pics now…just for motivation going forward!!

See you inside Aussie Transformation Coach soon!!

Belinda

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ewa May 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm

hoi, Belinda so what is the duration of the intervals and resting time, should i measure it?
i do use your other exercises 4 times a week, feels great
i did read some article from Kat Loterzo about hiit, but of course i want to know your opinion
Greetings!

Reply

Belinda May 11, 2012 at 8:30 pm

G’day Ewa!

The intervals and resting time varies according to your level. In my HIIT e-book I explain everything and have a progression plan that you can work through depending on your current fitness. If you follow the general guidelines in my blog here that is a good starting point – and when you are ready take a look at the full Get Lean Program :)

Bel xo

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Paul May 8, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Hi Belinda,
That’s a very interesting blog on HIIT cardio. I’ve just started HIIT and I’ve heard it’s better for fat burning than steady state cardio. I used to do steady state cardio 45 mins x 2 daily for competition and next time I need something different to burn more fat and less muscle.

Paul :)

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Belinda June 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm

OK, Yes I think you can improve but it has to be very strategic. I would cut out the HIIT and focus on body sculpting – bodyweight or resistance training. Check out my Get Lean Program – it has a separate workout package option which I think would work for you (scroll down the page to see the options, and read the testimonials): Get Lean Program

Let me know if you have any questions!

Belinda

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