I’m also going to talk about high intensity interval training, and how you can incorporate it into your workout program, regardless of your current fitness level.
Seriously, if you’re looking to take your fat loss goals to the next level, I want you to start incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT) into your weekly routine.
High intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is an exercise training style that significantly increases your heart rate for a short period of time, followed by a rest to allow your heart rate to decrease.
In its most simplistic form, HIIT training alternates between high intensity intervals followed by low intensity intervals. This way you train your heart in different training zones.
One of the best ways to track your heart rate is by wearing an activity tracker that includes a heart rate monitor.
The heart rate monitor then calculates your heart rate during your HIIT workout.
Using a chest strap provides a more accurate and timely heart rate reading, compared to just using a watch with a built in heart rate monitor.
During your short, but intense high intensity interval training set, the goal is quickly elevate your heart rate into your high intensity target zone.
Here’s a simple formula to calculate your HIIT heart rate target zones (in beats per minute – BPM):
For example, I’m 37 years old, so my HIIT heart rate target zone would be calculated as follows:
Once you’re finished your high intensity sprint, fast jog, or fast walk, the goal is to rest or perform “active rest”, to allow your heart rate to drop down to a low intensity interval training heart rate target zone.
Active rest includes a slow walk.
My low intensity interval training heart rate target zone would be calculated as follows:
Based on the above calculations, here are my HIIT heart rate target zones:
What does this mean?
Well, after each high intensity interval sprint, the goal is to elevate my heart rate to 155 bpm.
Then I will begin my active rest, by just walking around, and allow enough time for my heart rate to drop back down to 119 bpm.
Once my heart rate reaches my low intensity interval training zone, it’s time for my next sprint.
Follow this simple formula to calculate your HIIT heart rate target zones.
If you’re a beginner to HIIT, don’t be intimidated as the intensity of HIIT depends 100% on what your current fitness level is.
Regardless of your current fitness zone, you can do HIIT training.
HIIT may sound like a scary workout that only advanced athletes can do, but it’s not.
You do not need to to sprint all out like Usain Bolt to achieve the same fat loss benefits.
As a beginner, your goal is to find out what level of exercise takes your heart rate into your high intensity interval training zone.
If you’re currently overweight, you may only need to complete a fast walk or jog to hit your high intensity interval training heart rate target zone.
Yes, for some people, a fast walk at an incline, for a short period of time, can raise your heart rate into your high intensity interval training zone.
You can walk at an incline right?
Of course you can.
Depending on your fitness level, a fast walk at an incline may be enough to help you burn fat faster and strengthen your heart.
After your sprint (or fast walk or jog), you should check your heart rate monitor to ensure you’re training at a high enough intensity, so your heart rate reaches your high intensity target zone.
Once you reach it, your goal for active recovery is to allow your heart rate to drop back down to your low heart rate target zone.
When you reach that zone, it’s time to sprint again.
Note: if you’re a beginner and new to high intensity interval training, it’s important to be safe in the beginning.
If you don’t have access to a heart rate monitor, one indicator of reaching your high intensity interval zone is if you are so winded, you cannot carry on a conversation with someone.
As you can hear in the video, I’m out of breath after each high intensity interval sprint.
This is how you should sound.
The HIIT sprint workout is structured as follows:
HIIT sprints on a treadmill, track, or outdoor field.
5-10 sets or if you’re basing your sets off of your heart rate monitor, however many you can complete within 20 minutes.
Note: 1 set equals 1 high intensity and 1 low intensity interval.
Click the links below for a step-by-step exercise demonstration of each exercise.
Warm up walk on the treadmill: 4 minutes at 4.0 mph and 2.0 incline
Sprint duration: 30-60 seconds (or however long it takes to hit your high interval heart rate zone)
Active recovery duration: 60 seconds (or however long it takes to hit your low interval heart rate zone)
These were my heart rate calculations from this HIIT sprint workout:
High interval #1: HR at end: 146 bpm
Low interval #1: HR at end: 126 bpm
High #2: 156 bpm
Low #2: 136 bpm
High #2: 157 bpm
Low #2: 137 bpm
High #3: 161 bpm
Low #3: 134 bpm
High #4: 159 bpm
Low #4: 135 bpm
High #5: 159 bpm
Low #5: 139 bpm
High #6: 159 bpm
Low #6: 139 bpm
High #7: 153 bpm
Low #7: 140 bpm
High #8: 157 bpm
Low #8: 141 bpm
High #9: 162 bpm
Low #9: 139 bpm
High #10: 157 bpm
Low #10: 137 bpm
Cool down: 4 minutes at 4.0 mph and 2.0 incline (HR finished at 117 bpm)
Workout notes: I completed this HIIT sprint workout based on times, not my heart rate. This is why my heart rates were often outside of my target training zones. Based on this, I should have decreased the intensity, incline, or time of the HIIT sprints to lower my heart rate during the sprint. I also should have allowed a little more time for active recovery to allow my HR to drop before going back into another high intensity sprint.
This is why completing a HIIT workout based on a set duration for high and low intensity intervals, is not as effective as following a customized high and low interval duration, based on your heart rate target zones.
Note: Although my HR Monitor shows a 42 minute workout duration, this included my 15 minute core work after my sprints. The actual HIIT workout portion only took 20 minutes, plus an additional 4 minute warmup and 4 minute cool down. Including the warm up and cool down, the 28 minute HIIT workout burned over 300 calories.
Although 300 calories may not seem like a lot, looks can be deceiving.
These 300 calories only includes the number of calories burned during the HIIT workout.
The real benefit of HIIT training comes from the increased calorie burning benefits achieved after the workout, for up to 48 hours.
This is called the Afterburn Effect.
When you complete a HIIT workout, your body will be burning MORE calories, for up to 48 hours after you leave the gym!
Set the timer for 20-25 minutes.
Then complete 5-10 sprints or however many you can within that time limit.
But be sure to train hard enough, and allow enough time between sprints, to properly recover so that you can hit your target heart rate zones.
That’s all it takes to trigger the afterburn effect and elevate your fat burning for the rest of the day.
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If you missed it, check out our fat burning “Jump Around” Tabata workout.
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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.