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HIIT training combines short and intense cardio for weight loss

A new type of training has emerged as a great ally for those who want to lose weight and is becoming increasingly popular in most gyms. Are you familiar with HIIT (High-Intensity Intermittent Training)?

Translated, the acronym stands for High Intensity Interval Training. This type of training is based, above all, on studies that have shown that short aerobic sessions, but with greater intensity, have been shown to be more efficient to burn fat (compared to low intensity and long duration sessions).

One of the studies, for example, had 10 men and 10 women who trained 3 times a week, with one group doing high-intensity, short-duration aerobics (4 to 6 sprints of 30 seconds), and the other group doing 30 to 60 minutes of traditional cardio (running on the treadmill at 65% VO2 max). After 6 weeks of training, those who had done short, high-intensity sessions were proven to burn more fat.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Learn more about HIIT and find out if it can really help you achieve the results you want.

HIIT Principles

Most people have done HIIT with a combination of running and walking, however, this type of training goes for cycling, rope, swimming, aerobics dancing… Anyway, the activity must be chosen according to the person’s profile.

Rodrigo Fernandes, coach at ProactionSports and owner of the R2 Functional studio, explains that this type of training is simply a combination of periods of very intense activity with periods of light stimulation. “The idea, basically, is to get your metabolism to speed up and keep you burning calories throughout the day, unlike low-intensity aerobic training,” he says.

How is HIIT done?

Fernandes explains that, in short, HIIT follows a line, but at the same time it is very dynamic, mainly because of the choice of exercises.

According to the coach, the person should basically follow the following guidelines:

Phase 1 (first and second week)

Start with a 1:4 ratio of training to rest, making a total training period of about 15 minutes. That is: do 15 seconds of high-intensity exercise and 60 seconds of rest or low-intensity exercise (such as a walk, for example). Repeat this sequence until you total about 15 minutes.

Phase 2 (third and fourth week)

Follow the ratio to 1:2 and do a total training period of about 17 minutes. That is, do 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise and 60 seconds of rest or low-intensity exercise. Repeat this sequence until you total about 17 minutes.

Phase 3 (fifth and sixth week)

The ratio is 1:1. Total training time is approximately 18.5 minutes. Do 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise and 30 seconds of rest or low-intensity exercise. Repeat this sequence until you total about 18.5 minutes.

Phase 4 (seventh and eighth week)

The ratio is 2:1 and the total workout time is around 20 minutes. Do 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise and 15 seconds of rest or low-intensity exercise. Repeat the sequence until it totals about 20 minutes.

However, Fernandes points out, this is adaptable for each person. Therefore, it is always very important to have the guidance of a professional in the area.

6 benefits of HIIT training

1. Burning Fat. Fernandes points out that it is not possible to talk about HIIT without talking about EPOC, which is another acronym in English that means excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption. “With this training method, we burn more subcutaneous as well as visceral fat from our body,” he says.

2. Calorie expenditure. Fernandes explains that HIIT increases the body’s ability to spend calories.

3. Time saving. Another benefit, according to Fernandes, is that with 15 to 20 minutes of training, a person can gain more than if they stay at the gym for 1 hour, that is, it saves time as well.

4. For everyone. HIIT can be done by all types of people, as the idea is to improve gradually. In the beginning, high-intensity workouts may take less time, but over time, the resistance increases and so does the level of training.

5. Affordable. This type of training can be done anywhere, without the need for expensive equipment/environments. Just alternate, for example, running with walking outdoors.

6. Motivation. With results appearing more quickly and, above all, without requiring long periods of training, the person feels much more motivated with physical activities.

But, despite offering many benefits and results in less time, it’s no use thinking that HIIT is “a piece of cake”. “You’ll have to ‘suffer’ twice as much doing this training to get results, that is, nothing comes easy, without effort”, comments Fernandes.

HIIT vs common aerobic exercise

Studies comparing HIIT to sustained continuous aerobic exercise have shown that HIIT is much more effective when it comes to fat loss, although it lasts for less time.

Fernandes explains that, in HIIT, due to the intensity of the training, the body continues to spend energy 24 hours a day – which does not happen in the case of common aerobic exercises.

In addition, adds the coach, in low-intensity aerobic training, muscle mass is lost.

Examples of HIIT workouts

Fernandes highlights that HIIT is performed with activities that require the individual to reach the maximum intensity possible in a metabolic way. “There are protocols on the 4-minute bike of the main part of the training where the intensity is very high (Tabata method). We can do it on the bike, treadmill, transport, run or pedal outdoors… And for upper limbs there are great protocols with the naval rope. There are adaptations of HIIT with resistance exercise, however, we don’t get to see the same energy expenditure,” he says.

The coach cites as examples of training:

  • Bike: 30” of effort for 30” (1:1) of rest for 10 minutes.
  • Naval Rope: 15” of effort for 45” (1:3) of rest for 20 minutes.

In the videos below you can see other examples of HIIT training:


Fernandes says that everyone can practice HIIT as long as they have a plan. “Today there are already studies showing the benefits of HIIT for hypertensive patients, for example. A good professional will know how to dose the loads and prescribe the right training for each person”, he explains.

Safety tips for those who are going to adopt the training

Want to practice HIIT? Check out some important guidelines given by Fernandes:

  • There is a principle called biological individuality. “What is intense for me may be light for you. Therefore, it is not interesting to go around copying training sessions without the accompaniment of a good Physical Education professional”, he highlights.
  • Because it provides very intense stimuli, it is important to always warm up (prepare) the body for these stimuli.
  • A person should not do HIIT every day. “Start with twice a week”, guides the coach.

Now you know the benefits that HIIT offers and you know why this type of training is increasingly popular in gyms. For those who want to lose weight, especially, it can be a great alternative!

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