What is HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves intense, fast , short duration cardiovascular training switching between moderate and very intense exercise bouts. It is far more taxing than the traditional long, slow cardio sessions that have been common place for such a long time. The constant change between fast and slow is not only a lot more challenging, it also burns a lot more calories – and in far less time.

Is HIIT Better For Burning Fat?

The answer to this question is very easy. A resounding YES! That said, there are few things you should know.

If you jump on an exercise bike and do a traditional slow to medium long duration cardio session you might burn 400 calories. Jump on the same bike the next day and do a shorter more intense HIIT workout and you might burn 500 calories.

Big deal, you say. But here’s the kicker.

The real difference between long duration and low intensity cardio Vs HIIT, is that the calorie burn essentially stops when you hop off the cycle after a low intensity cardio session. With HIIT training, however, the main benefits actually come after your workout is over. This is due to a phenomenon known as EPOC, which stands for Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption. It is commonly known as the afterburn effect. It means that your body keeps on burning calories at a higher rate than normal even after your workout is over. This extended calorie burning effect can last up to 48hrs hours after your training session. For that reason, you shouldn’t pay too much attention to the calorie counter on the machine that you are working on – that is just the start of the story!

Who Should Do HIIT Training?

Anyone who is looking to lose weight, decrease fat %, and people who have limited time for working out should consider HIIT training. Athletes looking to improve their performance should also be engaging in regular HIIT sessions. If you are a person who has problems with your knees, joints, lower back or suffer from high blood pressure, you should consult your doctor before starting out a HIIT Program.

What are Some Effective HIIT Programs?

The TABATA method is one of the most widely used programs when it comes to HIIT training. Professor Tabata, often known as the father of HIIT training, conducted a study in Japan in the 1990’s with elite athletes. The participants increased their VO2 Max (a measure of the volume of oxygen an athlete can use) by 28% - that is a huge increase, especially in top athletes.

Tabata training involves 20 seconds of maximum intensity training, followed by 10 seconds of either rest or low intensity work. That is repeated eight times. The repetition can be the same exercise eight times over (for overload) or different exercises each time. This will give you a workout that lasts for a mere 4 minutes. Those 4 minutes, though, will be extremely hard if done at full intensity. The best exercise options for Tabata training are simple movements that you can really push yourself in. Cycling, sprinting, rowing or simple bodyweight exercises are all great options.

If you are looking to increase cardiovascular ability, burn fat and get generally fitter here is a great protocol:

  • 4 minute dynamic warm up
  • 20 seconds maximum intensity/10sec rest (repeated 8 times)
  • 4 minute recovery
    Repeat for 30 minutes

The 4 minute recovery period may seem like a long time, but it will enable you to fully recover so that you can give everything during the 20 seconds work phase.

The above routine was used in a Canadian study recently. The participants were training alongside a group who were doing steady state cardio for 60 minutes. A the end of the study, the HIIT group, who were training for half the time, increased fat loss by 200%.


HIIT Training is a highly effective method to get in great shape and shed body fat fast. It may not be easy, but it certainly is a powerful training tool to have in your arsenal. So don’t you think it’s time that you HIIT it?


Author: Steve Theunissen
Author Bio: Steve Theunissen is the Nutrition Souq Bodybuilding and Workouts Editor. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer. Steve is the author of 5 hard copy books and dozens of e-books on the subject of fitness, bodybuilding and weight loss.