Shredding equals sacrifice, in the form of more cardio.
Or so we’ve been told.
I know I’m not the first person to dread hour-long cardio sessions on the treadmill for weeks while cutting. We’ve all been there.
But I’m here to tell you there’s a better way. HIIT, a specific style of working out, not only torches calories in a super short window of time but can also ramp up your metabolism so that you keep burning fat for several hours after your workout.
Nope, this is not a drill.
HIIT: What Makes It Different?
If you’ve been in the workout game for a while, you’ve most likely heard of HIIT or high-intensity interval training. HIIT is any method of exercise that alternates intervals of very high-intensity “work” with periods of low-intensity “rest.” Think sprinting all-out for 30 seconds, then jogging or walking for 60 seconds, and repeating this sequence for several minutes for a full workout.
While at first glance HIIT may not look like anything special as compared to other forms of working out, it turns out it’s scientifically proven as THE best method for shredding fat while maintaining gains. And yes: that’s even compared to those extra drawn-out cardio sessions you might be doing to cut on the treadmill every day.
And the best part? HIIT workouts are typically short (think less than 20 minutes) and actually make changes in your body at the cellular level that promote fat burn … even long after your session is over.
The Afterburn Effect: The Real Gold Behind HIIT
It’s true. Long cardio sessions burn tons of calories. They can also be quite therapeutic, if you consider sessions like long runs on the beach, or hitting the trails for a few hours.
However, using drawn-out cardio sessions as your main way to cut fat may actually be (sorry to say) unnecessary use of your time. Research has shown that steady-state cardio doesn’t hold a candle to HIIT. In fact, one study found that between two groups, the group who sprinted on a bike for 8 seconds, followed by 12 seconds of light work for 20 minutes, lost 2.5 kg of fat, versus the other group, who exercised at a steady pace for 40 minutes and lost no fat. [*]
How is this possible, when the steady group was actually biking for longer?
The trick behind HIIT’s effectiveness is in something called the Afterburn Effect. The technical term is EPOC, which stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, and it measures the amount of energy we use (aka, calories we burn) after a workout, instead of during.
EPOC is higher following short, intense workouts due to more oxygen being depleted from our cells, and the greater lactic acid build up in our muscles. This is because these processes require energy in the form of calories to restore. This energy use continues long after your workout as your body works to bring itself back into balance after exerting itself.
Alongside this, metabolism has also been shown to increase by roughly 4 percent after intense workouts, as well as significantly increasing fat burn for up 16 hours afterward. [*] This is due to metabolic changes at the cellular level that encourage your cells to use energy more efficiently.
Another interesting this to note about HIIT is that the structural changes taking place at your cell level are seen in a very short amount of time. We saw earlier that just 20 minutes of bike sprinting was enough for the group in the study to lose fat, but other studies show just two minutes of sprint interval exercise creates a similar cell response as 30 minutes of continuous moderate-intensity exercise. [*]
So in essence, you can get in two minutes with HIIT what you’ll get in 30 minutes of steady movement. Talk about a time-saver.
How to Harness the Afterburn Effect
The key with HIIT lies in the intensity. The number one thing that matters during your work intervals is how hard you’re pushing yourself. In fact, research shows a direct link between how intensely you’re pushing, and how effective your results are. [*]
To get technical, you want to be pushing at about 70-80 percent of your maximum during your work interval (just make sure you’re warmed up and loose first). You shouldn’t be able to carry on full sentences, and it it should be a bit of a struggle to perform that last rep or push those last few seconds.
Think of it this way: you’re cutting off about 45 minutes of cardio time with this workout. It should leave you wiped from the effort at the end of it.
HIIT Workout Ideas
HIIT workouts can be as simple or as complicated as you want. I recommend checking out some of my free exercise videos for moves you can add in as intervals, as well as checking out my Body and Burn course below for a fully structured course with all the trimmings (pun for sure intended). In the mean time, some quick and dirty HIIT ideas include:
• Jump Rope. Alternate 30-60 seconds of double-unders or high-knees with 60 seconds of light hopping, for a total of 15 minutes.
• Tire flips. Flip a tire for 60 seconds, then rest for 60 seconds. Repeat for 5-10 minutes.
• Land Mines. 30 seconds on, 15 seconds rest. Repeat 5 times (see video below for technique).
View this post on Instagram
Full body crusher 🔥 One of my favorite Landmine exercises to do right now. Hits the abs shoulders glutes arms and back. Make sure to start a weight you’re comfortable at. A big part of landmine training is stability so remember not to rep it out as fast as you can. Go slow and keep it controlled the entire time. I recommend you doing Work ✅ 30 sec on 15 seconds off 5 sets Sweat right @tc1gel 🎥 @cory_fit
• Burpee hops. You can do these with a partner or a bench. 45 seconds on, 15 seconds rest. Repeat for 4 sets.
View this post on Instagram
No gym No excuse! 4 week Body & Burn program can be done anywhere for any level of fitness. Click the link in my bio for 25% off Thanks @kristinajimenezofficial for training with me! Make sure to grab and tag a friend and give this bodyweight exercise a try! Work ✅ 45 seconds on 15 seconds off 4 sets MichaelVazquez.com
• Dumbbell circuit. You can even utilize dumbbells in a circuit for a full-body HIIT. Check it. Try 5 rounds with a 30-second break between.
View this post on Instagram
Full body dumbbell workout 🔥 Get a killer workout today with one of my favorite dumbbell flows. Keep it light and remember to breath within each movement, these will exhaust you quick 🙏 Flow🔺 Push-up Row Press Repeat Work ✅ 5 rounds 30 second break 3 sets 🔥@tc1gel 🔥 🎥 @cory_fit
HIIT Crash Course: Body and Burn
If you want a place to start with HIIT workouts that includes ultra HD videos guiding you through moves, and even how to structure your own workouts HIIT effectively, check out my Body and Burn Full Bodyweight Course. These exercises and workouts are 100% body weight based so you can take them anywhere, and utilize my personalized version of HIIT: rapid-fire training.
Check it and let me know: what’s your favorite type of HIIT workout, if you’ve tried it?