Health and Beauty

The perfect exercise to lose weight quickly

When most people think of cardio, they think of long, boring runs or spending endless hours on the elliptical machine. I have good news for you: There's a cardio method that takes much less time and is far superior to running at helping you burn fat. It's called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and this article will give you the foundation so you can get your body back into better shape.


  • HIIT is a training method that alternates periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of low-intensity exercise;
  • It is more effective than traditional methods in burning fat and improving overall fitness.
  • In addition to fat loss, HIIT offers additional benefits such as increased aerobic capacity, improved insulin sensitivity, and muscle gain.


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of fitness training that involves performing exercises at high intensity (above 80% of maximum heart rate) alternating with periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. In other words, it is a fast and effective exercise that combines cardio and strength exercises, which improves overall physical condition.

This type of training can help improve cardiovascular performance, quickly burn calories for weight loss, enable muscle gain, and ultimately maximize health benefits. If you sprint for 20 seconds, then walk for 10 seconds of rest, and so on for x cycles, you are doing high-intensity interval training.

HIIT in the group helps increase exercise.
Image source © Adobe Stock

Origin and history

HIIT has its origins in interval training practiced by athletes in the 1920s. Emil Zatopeka running specialist, popularized this method for high-intensity interval training.

In the 1990s, scientific studies confirmed the benefits of HIIT for health and weight loss. Japanese physiologist Izumi tabata conducted a study that showed that a 4-minute HIIT protocol achieved similar results to 1 hour of traditional training.

More effective in burning fat

The “fat burning zone” referred to on most cardio machines, which is 60% to 75% of maximum heart rate (also called Zone 2) is not the only way to burn fat reserves.

Exercise physiologists once believed that LISS (low-intensity steady state) was more effective for weight loss because the body uses more fat as fuel when exercise intensity is low compared to high-intensity training.

However, at a higher intensity, you burn more fat, even though your fat-to-glycogen ratio is lower(1).

As an added bonus, there's a post-fat burning effect known as EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). This increase in oxygen consumption after intense exercise increases your metabolism and burns many more calories for up to 24 hours after training, while running burns almost no calories afterward.

Burn calories hiit vs liss
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Other health benefits

Aside from increased fat loss, there are a number of important benefits associated with high-intensity interval training:

  • Muscle Building : HIIT doesn't just burn calories; It also helps in muscle growth. Studies show that HIIT sessions have an anabolic effect, helping you gain muscle(2). This is the opposite of low-intensity cardio, which is catabolic (burns muscle) over long training periods.
  • Improve insulin sensitivity : Your muscles pick up glucose more easily, preventing it from being stored as fat(3) ;
  • Activates fat decomposition : High-intensity interval training (HIIT) stimulates the release of hormones such as adrenaline and growth hormone that release stored fat, especially visceral fat;
  • Increase aerobic capacity : The amount of oxygen your body can use (oxygen uptake) increases.(4) ;
  • Increased anaerobic threshold : The ability to manage lactate buildup in your muscles increases.
  • Improves physical condition : HIIT enhances endurance and VO2max, the maximum capacity for oxygen consumption;
  • time saving : HIIT delivers a complete cardiovascular and muscle workout in one session. By alternating periods of intense effort with periods of rest or light activity, you can maximize the benefits of exercise in a short period of time. Therefore it is no longer necessary to conduct longer and more monotonous training sessions.

HIIT can be done with or without equipment, with body weight or with dumbbells. Here are some examples of HIIT exercises:

A typical HIIT session takes 15 to 30 minutes and includes:

  • Warm up : 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio to prepare the body for exercise;
  • HIIT blocks : Blocks of 20 to 60 seconds of intense effort interspersed with periods of active or passive recovery of the same duration;
  • Recovery : 5 to 10 minutes of static stretching for recovery.

Technologies and methods

  1. Tabata : This method is undoubtedly one of the most popular when it comes to HIIT. This method, created by Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata, is intense and very effective. It consists of 8 cycles of 20 seconds of maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This gives a total of 4 minutes of intense exercise.
  2. a little : The mini method is a less intense variation of Tabata, but just as effective. It was developed by Dr. Jonathan Little and consists of 60-second cycles of moderate effort followed by 75 seconds of rest.
  3. Turbulence training : This other method was developed by fitness trainer Craig Ballantyne. It combines bodybuilding exercises performed in circuit training with cardio exercises for a complete workout.

Training example

If you are a beginner, I recommend you only try HIIT if you can do a 20-30 minute cardio session at 70-85% of your maximum heart rate.

Furthermore, excellent technical mastery of the movements is essential, because with higher intensity, the risk of injury is greater.

However, interval training can still be tried, but at a lower intensity, and it is recommended that beginners always monitor their heart rate (through a heart rate monitor watch for example).

Note: This type of exercise should start with a warm-up and some stretching for 5-10 minutes and end with a cool-down period of 3-5 minutes to avoid dizziness or nausea. Here is an example of a simple but effective HIIT workout:

  • 30 seconds of jogging;
  • 60 seconds of walking.

This protocol can be adapted to cardio (rowing, cycling) or strength training, for example with deadlifts and squats, or CrossFit: kettlebell swings, burpees, jack jumps, etc.

The “intense effort” duration is 30 seconds, and the “rest” duration is 60 seconds. The work/rest ratio in this case is 30/60, or 1 to 2. Perform 5 to 10 cycles to get a complete workout.

The fitter you are, the more you can work at high intensity and the higher your work-to-rest ratio. For example, experienced athletes may have a work-to-rest ratio of 2 to 1. So they train intensely for 30 seconds and their recovery time is only 15 seconds. Try it too!

HIIT program idea with CrossFit WOD in 4 minutes (Tapapa)

Matt Fraser - CrossFit Tabata

What to remember

In addition to its immediate fat loss benefits, HIIT training also provides long-term effects on your overall fitness. One aspect that is often overlooked is muscle gain. Unlike traditional cardio training, which can sometimes lead to muscle loss, HIIT builds muscle while burning fat. Additionally, this type of training has a positive effect on VO2Max, a key measure of your aerobic capacity. By improving VO2Max, you can increase your cardiovascular endurance and your ability to perform different types of exercises and sports.

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