Chances are, if you work out and go to the gym on a regular basis, you probably think that the longer you spend exercising, the better.
And you’re not alone. Most people think that if they had hours every day to devote to cardio, weight lifting, and stretching and recovery, only then would they finally get in the best shape of their lives.
But since you probably don’t have a few extra hours each day to spend exercising, here’s the good news: longer workouts aren’t necessarily better. In fact, you can actually get more done in less time if you work out using an incredibly efficient style of training known as high intensity interval training (HIIT).
So what exactly is HIIT?
HIIT is an exercise strategy alternating periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods.
Basically, that means you’ll be working as hard you possibly can for a short amount of time, resting, then working hard again. And an entire HIIT session usually only lasts for about 10 to 20 minutes.
While traditional HIIT involves forms of cardio like sprinting, cycling and even swimming, you can include all kinds of exercises like burpees, pull-ups, kettlebell swings and push-ups for a much shorter yet more effective workout.
Here are five reasons why you should spend less time working out and embrace HIIT.
1. It removes the “I don’t have time” excuse
What do you think the #1 excuse is for not working out?
That’s right: lack of time.
Over and over, well intentioned people who plan on working out will let their plans fall through because they just don’t have time.
And really, who has an extra hour or two a day to spend in a gym? Not busy people; that’s for sure.
But that’s the thing about HIIT: since it only takes 10-20 minutes to complete, it makes the “I don’t have time” excuse completely moot. Because I don’t care how busy you are, you can find a few extra minutes a day for some heart pounding, sweat pouring exercise.
2. It’s more efficient
If you hate to run, but have always assumed that running for endless periods of time is the best way to lose weight, here’s some good news: you’re wrong.
Shorter, more intense workouts will actually help you burn fat, build muscle and increase your endurance faster than running at a steady pace. In fact, you can make more progress in just 15 minutes of HIIT than you can running for an entire hour.
That makes it the ideal training method for anyone looking to lose weight, get stronger or even train for a race as quickly and efficiently as possible.
3. It burns more calories
If you’re trying to shed a few (or several) pounds, you’ll be happy to know that just 10 minutes of intense exercise like HIIT can burn more calories than half an hour of running on a treadmill.
And not only does HIIT burn more calories in less time than steady state cardio, it also helps boost your metabolism for the next 24-48 hours afterwards—meaning you’ll continue to burn more calories long after your workout is over.
4. It burns fat (instead of muscle)
When you do cardio for hours on end to lose weight, you will lose weight as long as you’re eating right as well. But not only will long treadmill, elliptical and cycling sessions cause you to lose fat, you’ll also be losing muscle in the process too.
Why is this an issue? Well, other than the obvious reasons (muscles sculpt your body and make you strong), muscle loss means a lowered metabolism as well. And a lower metabolism means you’ll be burning less calories naturally though out the day—meaning you’ll have to work harder to continue losing weight.
On the other hand, the short, intense bursts required by interval training ensures your body burns more calories from fat, not muscle. In fact, HIIT can help you burn fat faster than any other form of exercise, which is why athletes, bodybuilders and regular gym-goers alike swear by it when they want to reduce body fat.
5. It gets you results quicker
Even if you’re doing longer steady state cardio workouts on a consistent basis, it might take up to a month (or more) before you start noticing any results. And as a worse case scenario, your body might get so used to the workouts that you cease to make any progress at all.
But with HIIT workouts, you may start noticing and feeling results in as little as two weeks—or less.
In fact, there’s a good chance you will start feeling faster, stronger and physically fitter after doing only a few HIIT sessions. And think about how that progress will add up over a month or more!
But remember, the harder you push yourself during your workouts, the faster you’ll see results.
So work hard, be consistent, and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in a short amount of time.