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How HIIT Workouts Can Boost Your Weight Loss Results

By Staci Amend
October 22, 2014

If you’ve ever used the “interval training” setting on a treadmill or elliptical machine, you’re probably familiar with the concept—alternating short bursts of intense activity with periods of less-intense activity, or “active recovery.” Now fitness experts have modified that concept for maximum fitness and weight loss results. It’s called high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and it just may be the key to stepping around potential weight loss plateaus.

What makes HIIT workouts Intense?
So how does a workout qualify as “high-intensity?” Using your maximum heart rate (MHR) scale of 1–10 as a general guideline, the target heart rate of a typical HIIT workout should be around eight—meaning that your heart is working at 80% of its capacity. Of course, the amount of exercise needed to raise the heart rate to this level will be different for everyone. If you’re new to regular exercise, this kind of workout probably isn’t for you. But if you are already moving your body on a regular basis (at least three times per week) or already doing interval training, a HIIT workout is a great way to take your results to the next level.

How do I determine my MHR?
The easiest way to determine whether or not you’re exercising at peak levels is to purchase a heart rate monitor—it does all the math for you! But it’s also pretty easy to do this yourself. To calculate your maximum heart rate, simply subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 40 years old, your MHR is 180. To find your target heart rate for HIIT, simply multiply this number by .80—80% of 180 = 144. And of course, your heart rate is measured by beats per minute. So if you don’t have a heart rate monitor, simply take your pulse the old-fashioned way during an active recovery segment of your workout.

Do I need special equipment?
Like most interval training workouts, HIIT workouts can be done almost anywhere, using whatever kind of cardio training equipment you already use. It’s all about the activity ratio—one minute of intensity to three minutes of recovery. This might mean sprinting on your local track for one minute, followed by three minutes of brisk walking… one minute of pumping on your gym’s exercise bike to three minutes of relaxed pedaling… one minute of running up the stairs to three minutes of walking down. As long as you’re reaching your target heart rate, you’re doing HIIT!

How can HIIT boost my results?
HIIT training can help you increase BOTH your fitness level and weight loss results. By alternately working your body to near its maximum potential and giving it ample time to recover, you’re training it to produce and use energy more efficiently—a fancy way of saying you’ll burn more fat. Your body will also learn to prepare for unexpected energy usage by flushing waste out of the muscles; this will keep your metabolism performing at its peak, which in turn helps you build lean muscle and burn more fat!

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