How to burn more calories in less time with HIIT

Ashlee Baer, MS, LAT

By: Ashlee Baer, MS, LAT, Agnesian HealthCare Sports & Spine Center

Whether you are trying to burn calories to lose weight or get ready for football, basketball or softball season, exercising can be very time consuming. What if I told you that you or your athletes could increase the amount of calories burned and increase their aerobic fitness with only a 10 to 30 minute workout?

High-Intensity Interval training (HIIT) is the new training style that is on the rise. Interval training involves repeated bouts of high intensity efforts that range from five to eight seconds followed by recovery periods of lower intensity varying in lengths of time. A basic ratio of work to recovery is 1:1. So if you are doing a sprint for one minute, you get a one-minute brisk walk before you start your second bout.

Exercise scientists have suggested that HIIT is a suitable alternative to endurance training or continue aerobic activity (running/biking miles at a constant pace). High intensity interval training improves numerous physiological parameters and in less time when compared with continuous aerobic exercise. The following physiological parameters improve due to HIIT workouts:

  • Aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • Blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Insulin sensitivity (helps the exercising muscles use glucose for fuel to make energy)
  • Cholesterol profiles
  • Abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass

High intensity interval training workouts have similar fitness benefits to continuous aerobic exercises but in shorter time, as well as you burn calories after the workout. Generally after any workout, your body takes about two hours for it to return to pre-workout status. With completing a HIIT workout, your body burns more calories during that two-hour period after your workout – six to 15 percent more calories burned. Because HIIT workouts are very exhausting you should only substitute two to three times a week.

Example Running HIIT workout:

  • Warm up with a three-minute light jog
  • 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 30 seconds of walking – 15 times
  • Finish with a three-minute cool down jog

Example Circuit HIIT workout:

  • Warm up with a three-minute light jog
  • 15 burpees, 15 mountain climbers, 15 jumping jacks – three times
  • Do not stop between sets
  • Once all three sets are done jog for three minutes
  • Repeat two more times
  • Finish with a three-minute cool down jog

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