When we first start our fitness journey, losing weight can seem easy. We drop tons of weight in the first month, maybe even the first two months, but as things progress, our progress may start to slow down or plateau. If you’re wondering what happened or what went wrong with your journey, don’t lose heart! This can usually be explained in one of two ways: either you’re not nourishing yourself properly or you’re not maximizing your workouts.
What Does Your Gym Routine Look Like?
For most people, time spent at the gym can easily be broken down into a simple routine: 45 minutes to an hour’s worth of cardio (whether that’s on the treadmill, at a spin class or on the elliptical), followed by about 30 to 45 minutes of weight lifting or strength training. Now don’t get us wrong. If this is your routine at the gym, we’re not trying to tell you that there’s something wrong with this. Many people have benefited from a routine like this and have transformed their bodies. However, the question at this point in time is whether or not it’s the best work out for you. For example, are you actually enjoying the work out? Is it still getting you the same results on the scale and in terms of inches lost? Are you getting bored with what you’re doing at the gym? These are all important questions to ask yourself. Another important question to ask is whether or not it’s the best way for your body to burn the fat it needs to lose. Based on our experience, this typical gym routine doesn’t optimize our body’s capacity to burn fat. So, what is the best way?
High Intensity Interval Training
When it comes to exercising, more isn’t always better. A leisurely 45 minutes on the treadmill isn’t going to give your body any results because there’s no challenge and no intensity. Enter high-intensity interval training, the veritable magic piece of the puzzle that’s been missing from your weight loss journey. What’s awesome about HIIT is its ability to rev up your heart rate in intervals, thus causing your heart to acclimate to intensity and teaching it to recover faster. For those of you who aren’t already familiar with this kind of training method, it involves bursts of high-intensity exercises followed by low intensity exercises or rest. Going back to the example of the treadmill, applying HIIT to your 45 minutes would mean running at 90 percent of your maximum heart rate for a short amount of time and following it up with a minute or two of recovery such as walking or an easy jog.
Apart from the fact that HIIT exercises allows you to cut extra time spent in the gym, studies conducted on this type of exercise regimen have actually concluded that it burns much more body fat than your regular gym program. There’s a much higher caloric burn involved with high intensity interval training and much higher excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Basically, what this means is that not only will you be burning major calories while you’re working out, you’ll continue to burn those calories through the rest of your day (and your sleep, too). Since a high intensity interval training will only last about 25 – 30 minutes, it’s a fantastic way to save yourself some time as well. You can try switching out your regular gym routine with a HIIT work out two or three times a week to start. Keep it up for a month and we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll see great results. It might even be the key to toning up that trouble spot of your body that you never thought would get lean.
Some Quick and Easy HIIT Work Outs to Try
There are several ways to implement high intensity interval training to your day. However, if you’re new to it, you’re going to want to start with the basics. After all, the last thing we want is for you to get injured and have to miss out on great workouts to come. Here are a few easy ways to get started.
- The Run-Walk Interval Sprint: Remember that treadmill example we mentioned earlier? The Run-Walk Interval Sprint is similar in essence, but is best done out on an open road or track so that you don’t have to fiddle with the buttons of a machine. Start out with a short jog to get your body and muscles nice warm. Once you’ve started breaking a sweat or when you feel that your body is lose and ready for a workout it’s time to start incorporating the intervals. You’re going to start with 30 seconds of running as fast as you possibly can. Follow this up with 90 seconds of walking (don’t stop moving!). Repeat this interval 10 times to bring your total work out time to 25 – 30 minutes depending on how long your warm up jog lasts.
- Plank and Climbs: If you think you’re ready for a bit of a challenge, this interval is guaranteed to get your heart working hard and your body breaking some serious sweat in just 10 minutes. Start this interval in an elbow plank position. Hold your plank for 15 seconds then switch to 30 seconds of mountain climbers. After your mountain climbers, take 15 seconds of rest before starting the interval again. Repeat this interval 10 times. As you get stronger, you can increase your repetitions.
- Tabata Intervals: When it comes to a short and sweet interval, it doesn’t get any better than the Tabata. Seriously, it’s so simple that it only takes a total of 4 minutes, but boy does it get your heart rate working. All this requires is 20 seconds of high intensity movement followed by 10 seconds of rest with a total of 8 interval repetitions. Our suggestion is to do two intervals each of side lunges, sit ups, jumping jacks and mountain climbers to really get your heart pumping.