Transform Your Body in 20 minutes with Sprints & HIIT
Have you ever noticed how the physiques of world class sprinters and athletes involved in similar disciplines are looking for muscular, ripped, and defined than ever?
Their bodies resemble those of Greek Gods, which is surely a testament to the sporting disciplines that they are involved in.
If you’re looking to tone up, trim down, and increase your lean muscle mass, HIIT is one of the most effective forms of physical exercise currently in existence.
HIIT is not only beneficial for transforming your physique, it is also ideal for people looking to improve their health and fitness in general.
But what exactly is HIIT and sprint training, why are they now so hugely popular, what benefits do they offer over conventional cardio and resistance-based exercise, and is there anything special you need to know?
All of these questions will be addressed in this useful guide to HIIT, so if you’re ready to start transforming your body, here is you’re an introduction to Sprints & HIIT.
What The Heck Is HIIT?
To start things off, we’re going to bring you up to speed with what HIIT actually is.
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and it is a relatively new form of physical exercise that is taking the fitness industry by storm.
How the exercise is actually performed is explained in the name. To make a long story short, HIIT involves people alternating between periods of fast-paced, high intensity exercise and slow-paced, low-intensity exercise.
As a very simple example, one form of HIIT may require an individual to get onto a treadmill and begin by walking at a slow speed for 30 seconds. This is the low-intensity form of the exercise.
Next, after those 30 seconds are up, they may then crank up the speed and sprint at around 95% of their max capacity for 30 seconds. They will run as fast as they can, and this is the high-intensity portion of the exercise.
After those 30 seconds are up, that will be one round completed. They will then drop the speed down so that they walk again, and will repeat the process for several more rounds.
A typical HIIT workout will last between 20 and 30 minutes. The thing to remember is that, in order for HIIT to work, you really do need to be pushing yourself as hard as you can during the high-intensity portion of the exercise.
By the end of it, your heart rate should be up, you should be sweating, and in all honesty, you should feel a little sick, and you may struggle to talk.
HIIT is great because it is all relative to how fit each individual is. It can be adapted, so if you are a beginner, you could increase the amount of time spent on the low-intensity portion of the exercise. So, you could opt for 60 seconds of “rest” and 30 seconds of sprints. As you get fitter, simply reduce the amount of time spent recovering. You may also increase the amount of time spent sprinting.
What Is The Optimal Training Zone?
As mentioned, it is all relative based upon overall fitness levels, but generally speaking, in order for HIIT to work, you need to be pushing yourself incredibly hard on the high-intensity portion of the exercise.
How hard? Well, many health experts and personal trainers recommend anything from 85% – 100% of your maximum heart rate during the high intensity portions of the exercise.
That’s right, in order for the workout to be effective you really do need to be working hard. It’s no good just jogging leisurely, or perhaps running a little faster than you do when you perform steady state cardio, because that will not work.
To achieve maximum fat burning results you need to be sprinting, and you need to be sprinting as fast as you can.
Imagine yourself racing against Usain Bolt, trying to set a new World Record, or being chased by a hungry and angry bear like the one that messed Leo DiCaprio up so much in The Revenant.
How Often Should HIIT Be Performed
As you might expect, answers to this question will vary depending on whom you speak to.
Some people for example, may recommend that you perform HIIT five times per week, while others may tell you that twice per week is sufficient enough.
The general consensus however, and this is based off of science and numerous studies and hours upon hours of extensive research, have concluded that HIIT workouts should be performed no more than three times per week, when used in conjunction with other forms of exercise.
If for example, you also lift weights and are looking to tone up and build some muscle in the process, these three HIIT sessions combined with the weight lifting and resistance exercises you are performing, will be more than sufficient for transforming your body, boosting your fitness, and getting you the results that you’re looking for.
Any more than this, and you put yourself at risk of overtraining. Overtraining will result in fatigue, muscle loss, suppressed metabolism, and a lack of enthusiasm to train, and nobody wants that.
In terms of when HIIT should be performed, to be honest, it doesn’t matter all that much. Ideally however, you should perform HIIT when you are fresh, so either on a non-lifting day, or before you train. This is because, as it is so intense, if you are already tired and feeling the effects of a weight training session, you won’t be able to give 100% to your HIIT workout, and anything less than max effort will not yield the results you should be getting.
So What Makes HIIT So Special?
There are plenty of forms of cardiovascular exercise out there for you to choose from, so why is HIIT considered to be such a superior form of physical exertion.
It turns out that HIIT can offer people a wide range of benefits that go far beyond those relating to losing fat and getting fitter. Some of the main benefits associated with HIIT include:
HIIT Promotes Muscle Growth
Cardio is generally not a form of exercise that we associate with muscle growth. When we think of muscle, we think of dumbbells, barbells, and hulking great bodybuilders deadlifting ridiculous amounts of weight from the floor. However, as we mentioned in the intro to this guide, many Olympic sprinters have physiques that many amateur bodybuilders would be envious of.
Sprinting isn’t renowned for its muscle-building effects on the body, so what gives?
Well, in the human body, we have two types of muscle fibres. We have fast-twitch muscle fibres, and we have slow-twitch muscle fibres. Slow-twitch muscle fibres are those found in the muscles that we utilize for slow and steady endurance-based exercises.
Though still beneficial, these muscle fibres are not the ones that are going to give you an impressive double biceps flex to post on your Instagram. Fast-twitch muscle fibres however, are those which are responsible for generating explosive power. Explosive power like that which is needed to perform sprints for example.
With HIIT, we can actually convert slow-twitch muscle fibres into fast-twitch muscle fibres, which means that we can use HIIT to help promote increases in our lean muscle mass.
Make no mistakes, HIIT isn’t going to build anywhere near as much lean muscle mass as a typical bodybuilding routine consisting of compound and isolation movements with free weights and machines. What it will do however, is help to promote slight increases in lean muscle mass, and as you know, every little bit helps.
HIIT Burns Fat
In terms of fat loss, many personal trainers and health experts alike, consider HIIT to be the ultimate tool for losing stubborn body fat.
HIIT will help burn fat and keep people incredibly lean. When you perform HIIT, as you are working so incredibly hard, you are burning off a significant number of calories as you exercise.
After each round of sprints, you should be tired and exhausted, which will of course mean that your body has been forced to work hard and burn off calories for fuel to power you through your workout.
A typical HIIT workout lasting around 30 minutes has the potential to burn off as many as 600 calories, perhaps even more if you really push yourself, but that’s not all.
You see, the secret to HIIT’s success is EPOC, or Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. Some people call this the afterburn effect. EPOC sounds complex, but in reality, it is surprisingly easy.
Basically, EPOC means that, following exercise in the form of HIIT, our bodies utilize more oxygen than they did before we began our workout. This increased demand for oxygen results in an increase in the metabolism, and it is why people refer to this process as the afterburn effect.
You see, after performing HIIT, as the metabolism is now increased and burning more calories to utilize more oxygen, it means that temporarily, our metabolisms remain elevated after finishing a workout.
The afterburn effect can last for as long as 24 hours following a workout, which means that we burn off more calories, even while in a rested state. The fat loss benefits of HIIT therefore, become painstakingly obvious because you burn calories during the workout, and you burn more calories after the workout, even by doing nothing.
HIIT Saves Time
Let’s face it, for many of us, the prospect of jumping on the treadmill and performing 60 minutes of steady state cardio is anything but appealing.
It’s tough, it’s physically demanding, it’s mentally draining, and it’s boring. Some people also do not have the luxury of having a spare hour or so to perform cardio every few days, especially combined with other forms of exercise, and work, and leading a personal life.
So, what can be done? Do they just skip cardio and resign themselves to a lifetime of being unfit and overweight?
No, they instead look into HIIT. The wonderful thing about HIIT is the fact that it can be completed in a fraction of the time it would take to complete a typical endurance-based steady state cardio session.
A one-hour jog around the block, or steady state cardio workout on the treadmill could burn off, on average, around 400 – 500 calories. With a 20-minute HIIT session however, you could potentially burn off even more calories than this, in literally a third of the time.
People are very quick to talk about the fact that they’re too busy to find the time to exercise, yet they can’t honestly say that they don’t have a spare 20-minutes to perform a HIIT workout? If so, we’re simply not buying that. If you are in a hurry, or if you just get bored of low-intensity repetitive cardio, a HIIT workout is perfect.
HIIT Boosts Energy Levels
You’d think that an intense form of physical exertion would not increase your energy levels, but rather, it would reduce them, but in reality, science has found that the opposite is true.
Performing regular HIIT workouts will, overtime, result in significant increases in energy levels. This again, is all thanks to the fact that HIIT increases the metabolism. The faster and more efficient the metabolism is, the more calories it burns off and converts into glucose, and the more energy we have.
Not only that, but HIIT also enables the body to utilize stored body fat for energy, so you are literally fuelling your body with your own stored body fat, just as nature intended.
HIIT also increases muscle efficiency by increasing fast-twitch muscle fibres. This means that the muscles become more efficient, so they require less energy. The less energy you burn off, the more energy you will have stored to get you through the day ahead.
Congratulations on making it to the end of this short, introductory guide on transforming your body with sprints & HIIT.
You may be surprised to know that the majority of people who start something never complete it.
Take your time and progress at your own pace. This is not a race (no pun intended). The more you understand and comprehend about HIIT and the power it has to transform your body in a short amount of time the better
If you really want to succeed, then everything you do for your life must be with long-term planning in mind. These changes you’re making are not meant to be temporary. They’re meant to be part of a new lifestyle that you follow.
You can’t think of HIIT as simply as something that you do occasionally. Transforming your body, must instead be something that your life is about all the time…and only then can you truly reap the benefits
Thank you for joining me in this new journey into HIIT & transforming your body, we hope you have enjoyed it!
All the best with your future fitness endeavors and onwards and upwards from here!