Shrinking the midsection is a common fitness goal, especially for women who are noticing a waistline thickening as they age. One effective way to burn abdominal fat is with high intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT adds short bursts of high intensity movement to a workout. For instance, you might spend 10 minutes alternating a minute of a moderate indoor walking workout with 30 seconds of quick, high knee pull-ups.
With many exercises, such as a moderate treadmill workout, calorie burn is concentrated during the time you are actively engaged in them. The longer you work out, the more calories you’ll burn. But with HIIT, you burn fat during as brief as a 10-minute workout and continue to burn calories for hours after your brief workout has ended.
How can that be? As you exercise, your body establishes a certain metabolic rate that matches the workout rate. When you add a surge of high intensity, you’re telling your muscles to increase that rate. It will take your body several hours to recover from these bursts of extra energy. During this time, your body will continue to burn calories at a higher-than-usual rate, a phenomenon called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).
In business terms, HIIT provides a huge return on investment. An Australian study followed two groups of women – one that participated in interval training and a second that participated in moderate 40-minute traditional workouts. Researchers discovered that the interval group lost an average of 5-1/2 pounds while the continuous workout participants gained a pound of fat.
That’s not all…another study out of Canada found that adults performing interval training for two weeks were able to increase their fat burn by 36%.
Let’s get clear — burning fat isn’t exactly the same thing as burning calories. Calories come from the foods we eat and are converted into energy the body needs. If we don’t use up all those consumed calories, then our bodies store them away in fat cells to be used later. In order to get the maximum fat burn from a workout, we have to tap into those hidden fat stores, and bursts of high intensity intervals do just that. The increased physical demand triggers the body to release a greater amount of fat-burning enzymes in the muscles than it would during moderate exercise.
The good news is that HIIT training not only shrinks your waistline, but it also is good for your heart!