Have you ever wondered how sprinters, swimmers, and professional athletes keep their body fat below 15%, 8%, or even 5%? This happens because they eat a healthy, protein packed diet and pair that with intense and challenging HIIT workouts.
HIIT workouts alternate periods of all out intensity with periods of limited rest.
The reason HIIT has become so popular in the workout industry is because of the number of studies that show HIIT’s correlation to elevated fitness and fat loss compared to that of traditional workouts.
In one study, Australian researchers found that only a few minutes of HIIT training is just as good for your body as 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise. The researchers looked at the mitochondria, also known as the energy powerhouses of the cells. As you age, the production of energy from mitochondria slows down dramatically, which is why you or your parents have a lot less energy than your kids, nieces and nephews. The HIIT exercise creates new mitochondria while improving the function of the mitochondria that already exists.
There are a number of mechanisms that contribute to HIIT’s ability to become an exceptional fat loss contributor including increased fatty acid transport, improved insulin sensitivity, hormonal responses, and EPOC.
One study showed that seven sessions of HIIT over a 2-week period offered a short-duration stimulus to improve whole body fat oxidation and the capacity for skeletal muscle to oxidize fat.
Another study showed that HIIT increases sarcolemmal and mitochondrial fatty acid transport proteins in human skeletal muscle.
The list for studies showing the benefits of HIIT goes on and on.
Now let’s get into how we’re going to do HIIT cardio to get to 8% body fat.
People generally know what a HIIT workout is, but they generally do not know how to incorporate it into their workouts, and the best way to utilize it and maximize its effectiveness.
There are three things you need to remember when including HIIT in your workouts: Type, intensity, and progressive overload to avoid fat loss plateaus.
#1 What Is the Best Type of HIIT Workout to Do?
When choosing the type of HIIT for your workout, you need to think about what you can do safely, effectively, conveniently, and with intensity. The four exercises I recommend for getting your HIIT in are cycling, sprinting, rowing or swimming. These are exercises you can add into any workout.
For example, try alternating 3 sets of 8 dumbbell shoulder presses with an all-out row for 1 minute, followed by 15 seconds of rest. Or maybe do a set of 20 push up jacks outside of a pool followed by two laps of swim sprints with 30 seconds of rest.
You can do HIIT workouts with almost any exercise, but by doing the four exercises I mentioned above, you can safely get the most bang for your buck.
#2 What Is the Optimal Intensity for a HIIT Workout?
The main difference between high and low intensity is you want to focus on top speed rather than resistance, but keep in mind, there may be an optimal resistance level to keep you from going out of control. With the bike for example, you need to focus on the top speed you can safely pedal without feeling like you are starting to lose control.
Most studies indicate that you need to reach between 85%-95% of your max heart rate during the majority of the exercise. You can calculate your max heart rate by taking 220 minus your age. So, a 20-year old’s max heart rate is 200 beats per minute. The 20-year old should keep their heart rate between 170 and 190 beats per minute for the optimal heart rate level. Be advised, you shouldn’t start at this level, but should work your way up to it.
One way to know you’re at a point of optimal intensity is when you can’t hold a conversation with someone because you’re breathing so heavily. So, if you are still able to talk to someone in a cognizant fashion during or after the HIIT exercise, you’re not working hard enough.
#3 How do I Progressively Overload My HIIT Workout for Maximum Fat Loss?
When you first start out, any amount of HIIT training will be challenging and difficult. It is imperative that you start slow and work your way up. Begin with 15 seconds of 75% max heart rate and go from there. When get used to the workouts, you need to break through the plateau barrier and add some progressive overload.
To do this, you need to use the F.I.T.T. (Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type) rule to progress. Add a little more time, a little more intensity, a few more intervals, or change up the type of exercise. All these variables paired with all the different exercises there are out there can create a virtually unlimited number of workouts. Always try to find opportunities to vary your workout and make it a little bit harder. The quicker you learn how to do this, the faster the weight will come off.
Another variable you can use is to decrease rest time. Maybe you start out at 1-minute rest intervals. You can drop that down to 30 seconds and 15 seconds over time. The more variables you modify to make your workout more difficult for your body, the better.
Summary: How HIIT Cardio Can Get You Down to 8% Body Fat
I put HIIT into every one of my workouts. Not only does keep me in great cardio shape, it gets my body healthier and gives me energy throughout the day. If your goal is to get to 8% body fat, you must eat right and train right. If you’re not doing a HIIT workouts, you’re not up to speed on what you should be doing during a workout to achieve your goals. Focus on putting in the effort to make HIIT a staple in your training.