HIIT & Weight Loss: Everything You Need to Know

HIIT workouts reign supreme when it comes to weight loss and fat burning–and for good reason.

Different workouts make for different results. When it comes to fat loss, the verdict is in: high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are proven to be more effective than traditional cardio sessions. Despite what you might have been told in the past, you can’t expect to comfortably jog on the treadmill everyday and expect to watch the fat melt off your belly. If your primary intentions are to burn calories and shed body fat, a workout plan centered around HIIT exercise may be the best choice for you. Read on to find out everything you need to know about HIIT workouts and weight loss.


What is HIIT?

If you’re new to HIIT, the concept is fairly simple: work harder, not longer. HIIT workouts require mixing bursts of all-out effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise with short periods of recovery and rest in between. These challenging intervals push your body to its metabolic limits and get your heart rate pumping close to its maximum. If you’re looking to burn calories, lose body fat and gain muscle in much shorter periods of time, HIIT is the right choice for you.

When it comes to HIIT, intensity is key, meaning you’re really going to have to work a lot harder than steady-state cardio, but results speak for themselves. The whole point of HIIT is to kick the intensity of cardio up a notch. Working harder means higher oxygen intake, which, in turn, means more calories burned.

Fat Loss Benefits

Due to the versatile nature and unlimited amount of exercise combinations, it’s impossible to say exactly how many calories you can burn in a single HIIT session. A HIIT workout led by a professional instructor or studio can easily burn up to 1,000 calories. Not only does HIIT burn significantly more calories than low impact cardio such as walking, running or biking, but it does so in a much more efficient manner with instructor-led classes lasting usually between 20 and 55 minutes.

Depending on your personal fitness goals, you also no longer have to choose between weight loss and muscle gain. Long sessions of steady-state cardio have been shown to burn fat but also muscle. Since HIIT combines elements of both cardio and strength training, you can also gain and define muscle in addition to the fat loss.

Metabolic Benefits

The intense nature of HIIT classes means that the participants raise their heart to at least 80% of its maximum. Studies have shown that HIIT workouts dramatically increase insulin sensitivity, which, in turn, boosts fat loss. It also balances out hormones in your body that lead to weight gain such as ghrelin and leptin.

One of the most well-known metabolic benefits of HIIT is Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). This refers to the elevated oxygen consumption and caloric expenditure that your body goes through for 24 to 48 hours following the workout. This “afterburn” effect forces the body to burn more fuel during the muscle repair process, meaning your revved-up metabolism will continue burn calories at a high level long after the workout has finished.