Charlie King on the hottest workout of the moment – and why you should be doing it

Lee Faircloth / GT

The workout of the moment is definitely HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training).

This method of exercise describes a workout which alternates between high intense bursts of exercise for a set time, followed by less intense workouts or a rest period.

For example, try running as fast as you can for one minute and then walking for two minutes. Repeat that three-minute exercise five times for a total of 15 minutes. Sound easy? Don’t be fooled, this highly-effective way to burn the fat and stay toned will be the best thing to add into your workout.

To begin with, HIIT is very time-efficient and will mean that no matter what your schedule is you can get your exercise in – whether you want to squeeze in a workout during your lunch break, or are more interested in using your time more wisely outside of the gym.

Research shows you can achieve more progress in a mere 15 minutes of interval training (when done three times a week) than jogging on the treadmill for an hour. It’s documented that just two weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as six to eight weeks of endurance training.

Not only do you burn more calories during a HIIT session, but the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into hyperdrive. That means you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a HIIT workout than you do after, say, a steady-paced jog.

Most people aren’t used to pushing into the anaerobic zone – that lovely place where you can’t breathe and you feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest – but in this case, extreme training produces extreme results. Further recent studies found that after eight weeks of doing HIIT workouts, individuals could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace.

Running, biking, jump roping, and rowing all work great for HIIT, but you don’t need any equipment to get it done. High knees, fast feet, or anything plyometric like jumping, lunges work just as well to get your heart rate up fast. In fact, some equipment like dumbbells can make HIIT less effective because you want the focus to be on pushing your heart to its max, not your biceps.

When doing my HIIT sessions I include mountain climbers, high knees, burpees and squat jumps.

Anyone who ‘s been on a diet knows that it’s hard to not lose muscle mass along with fat. While steady state cardio seems to encourage muscle loss, studies show that both weight training and HIIT workouts allow dieters to preserve their hard-earned muscles while ensuring most of the weight lost comes from fat stores. What a dream come true is that?

In addition to increased fat burning and more muscle preservation, HIIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) during the 24 hours after you FINISH your workout. This is great news since HGH is not only responsible for increased caloric burn but also slows down the ageing process, making you younger both inside and out! Start saving the cash on that expensive eye cream….

Remember you can do it anywhere. Since it’s such a simple concept – going at maximum effort for a short period of time, followed by a recovery period, and repeat — you can adapt it to whatever time and space constraints you have. You do not need a gym for HIIT, so there’s no excuses there.

I like to do my HIIT sessions solo and I strongly suggest you do it this way too. This is because HIIT requires focus and is all about maximising your effort and keeping on track with rest periods. If being done correctly, you will not have the ability to speak in the rest zone so chat to your friend once the 15 minutes is up.

So all thats left is to look at your current fitness regime and see where you would like to fit your HIIT sessions in. I opt for Tuesdays and Thursdays so I can do my resistance training on the other days.

Give it a go, stick at it, and remember you are going to sweat – so don’t forget your towel!

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