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6 Ways High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Can Significantly Boost Weight Loss Results

6 Ways High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Can Significantly Boost Weight Loss Results

We all want a quick fix, we don’t want to spend hours at the gym or scrutinizing every meal we eat just to find out we have only lost a pound after a month’s work. Though there is no magic pill that we can take to lose the extra weight overnight, there is an effective fat loss method that will keep burning fat up to 48 hours after a workout, and it’s called High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT for short.

HIIT is not universally known amongst the non-gym rats, as it is a method used by fitness models and endurance athletes to increase their metabolisms and to melt the fat away faster before any competition. It is a form of interval training, performed in short anaerobic bursts with fewer and briefer rest periods. It is considered to be the most effective cardio exercise that can be performed under 30 minutes almost anywhere.

If you want to stop sacrificing your sacred time on the treadmill, read below to learn how HIIT can help you achieve your desired lean body.

What is HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training means performing a short number of bursts of intense exercise, such as biking, sprinting, swimming, skipping rope, knee highs, followed by short recovery periods, such as walking. The purpose of the short recovery period is to bring your heart rate back to normal before performing the next anaerobic burst.

This is different than regular endurance exercise as the routine never allows your body to adjust to one intensity level, giving your body the shock it needs to start using the fat as fuel for your workout. Regular cardiovascular exercise, such as running on the treadmill for a consistent time at a consistent speed, causes muscle catabolism, the breakdown of muscle tissue, creating the ‘skinny fat’ look that many wish to stay away from. Muscle catabolism can even last up to 7 days after the steady-state cardio took place.

How Do You Perform HIIT?

The beauty of HIIT is that you can customize it to your body type and needs and still get results. I don’t recommend jumping right into HIIT as it can take a toll on those who have heart conditions or early signs of arthritis, so please consult your doctor first to see if this is right for you.

If you decide that you want to try HIIT, first figure out the type of cardiovascular exercise that you like best. Here is a list of some common exercises that are used for HIIT training:

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  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Jumping Rope
  • Running up Stairs
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Burpees
  • Knee-ups
  • Jumping Jacks

HIIT can also be performed with kettle bells, yoga balls, and various other equipment, but this is for the advanced folk.

Jim Stoppanl, Ph.D. from BodyBuilding.com has the best beginner’s plan for HIIT training:

Phase 1 - HIIT Training

    Phase 2 - HIIT Training

      Phase 3 -HIIT Training

        Phase 4 - HIIT Training

          Now onto the HIIT benefits!

          1. Burns Fat Faster & Longer

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          Burn up to 48 hours of fat after a HIIT exercise

            A 2001 study from East Tennessee State University concluded that subjects who followed an 8-week HIIT program, dropped 2% in body fat compared to the 0% that was dropped by subjects that underwent a continuous steady-state program. The same study also stated that the subject who followed the above program burned almost 100 more calories per day during the 24-hours after each exercise.

            Regular steady-state cardiovascular exercise helps you burn calories during your workout, but with HIIT, you can burn calories just by sitting or sleeping after you have finished a workout! It is no wonder that so many athletes and fitness fanatics are using HIIT to their advantage and shedding off the last pounds of weight before any competition. However, you don’t need to be a participant of a competition to have a reason to start HIIT training – think of bathing suit season, the next big birthday party, a wedding or just your health.

            2. Saves You Time 

            Fast fat loss results with HIIT

              You can find them at almost any gym, on a treadmill or elliptical, running at the same speed four to five times a week hoping to reach their weight loss goals. They look miserable, tired and mentally exhausted from performing the same thing over and over again with very little result. Then you step up on the said treadmill and press the big green button to initiate the repetitive routine you call exercise. The term that is generally associated with people who cannot seem to cut the cord from the aerobic machines is cardio bunny. If you are sweating your life away on any cardio machine, four to five times a week, 30-60 minutes per day – please STOP. You are only damaging yourself and wasting your time.

              The general excuse of not having enough time for exercise goes out the window as HIIT can be tailored to your time limit while burning fat every single time you perform the routine. This means that you do not have to spend hours on the elliptical, instead performing HIIT three times a week maximum for about 14-25 minutes is enough to give you results while drastically improving your general well-being.

              3. Location Does NOT Matter

              Perform HIIT virtually anywhere, no need for a gym membership

                Have a track next to your house? How about a swimming pool or a stadium? Do you have some extra space in your living room, or how about your basement? High Intensity Interval Training can be performed absolutely anywhere!

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                If there’s a deadly snow storm outside and you don’t want to make the trip to the gym – no problem! Simply put on some comfortable working-out clothes and start doing HIIT right at home. You do you not need that treadmill or elliptical that’s covered in dust in your garage or any fancy workout equipment, just use your body to perform the HIIT exercises and you’ll be sweating in no time.

                Also, since there are no limits in terms of gear, you can switch up your routine every two weeks to ensure that you will NOT be bored. After all, boredom and repetition are a major reason why many of us stop going to the gym in the first place.

                4. Endurance

                 

                HIIT helps you perform better in long term runs

                  Though there is a vast amount of skeptical research out there, for the most part, athletes, competitors and trainers vouch for HIIT as a great way to quickly increase endurance. Endurance is particularly important if you’re planning on running in a long race, training for obstacle races or if you’re tired of being tired after going up a flight of stairs. This is a great way to make your body use to short bursts of energy that occur after a sedative state. For example, catching up with a bus that you’ve almost missed, playing with kids, chasing your dog down the street after it spotted a cat. If you are experiencing a shortness of breath, dizziness and muscle cramps as soon as you start doing something active, then slowly incorporating HIIT into your regular schedule is something for you.

                  5. Preserves Muscle Mass

                  Save your lean muscle with HIIT

                    If you want a lean body that has some definition, then doing continuous steady-state cardio is not going to give you the results you want. HIIT decreases the chances that your body will use your muscles as fuel, therefore preserves your lean mass, something that does not happen if you engage in regular cardio sessions. By conserving your muscles, you will maintain your strength while improving your endurance.

                    In fact, a Laval University study concluded that in addition to a decrease in body fat after a HIIT training program, the subjects’ muscle fibers had substantial higher markers for fat burning than those in the steady-state exercise group. So remember, being a cardio bunny will help you burn calories but you will always be disappointed at the results as a dip in the scale will mean a decrease in muscle mass not body fat.

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                    6. Faster Results Than Traditional Cardio

                     

                    Fast weight loss results with HIIT

                      When comparing steady-state cardio to high intensity interval training, I like to use the following example. Imagine you’re in traffic and you’re moving inch by inch, always revving that engine in frustration, sometimes even fully turning off the engine and back on out of sheer boredom. What happens to the gas? You use up way more than a car that is driving at a steady state from point A to point B. This is the same idea with HIIT. Since you are constantly stopping and going and pushing yourself to the maximum, you are using way more energy than someone who is running at 5 miles an hour for 30 minutes, therefore speeding up your metabolism. HIIT stimulates the production of your human growth hormone by 450 percent during the 24 hours after you complete your workout. Hence, you burn more calories, shredding the fat much faster and more effectively than traditional cardio.

                      However, if you think that you can get the results you want without changing your diet, think again. HIIT is most effective when paired with a healthy diet consisting of vegetables, lean meat and enriched carbohydrates. Eating a burger a day will certainly diminish any results achieved with a proper HIIT program. For faster results, incorporate weight training 3 times a week along with 2-3 HIIT work-outs.

                      Conclusion

                      Following the latest fad diet or mindlessly moving on that treadmill that we all so love to hate will not get you the body that you desire. High Intensity Interval Training is a great way to increase your performance, shred that unwanted body weight and save you time and patience. We all have it in us to achieve the things that we desire — our health should not be an exception. 

                      Featured photo credit: Nicola Albertini via flickr.com

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                      Published on November 14, 2018

                      Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                      Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                      With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                      For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                      In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                      Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                      Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                      It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                      For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                      Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                      Symptoms of Fatigue

                      Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                      • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                      • mental blocks
                      • lack of motivation
                      • headache
                      • dizziness
                      • muscle weakness
                      • slowed reflexes and responses
                      • impaired decision-making and judgement
                      • moodiness, such as irritability
                      • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                      • reduced immune system function
                      • blurry vision
                      • short-term memory problems
                      • poor concentration
                      • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                      Causes of Fatigue

                      The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                      • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                      • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                      • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                      • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                      Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                      Medical Causes of Fatigue

                      If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                      Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                      Anemia

                      Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                      Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                      There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                      This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                      Diabetes

                      Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                      Sleep Apnea

                      Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                      Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                      Thyroid disease

                      An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                      Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                      • Lack of sleep
                      • Too much sleep 
                      • Alcohol and drugs 
                      • Sleep disturbances 
                      • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                      • Poor diet 

                      Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                      • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                      • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                      • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                      • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                      Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                      Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                      • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                      • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                      • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                      How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                      Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                      1. Tell The Truth

                      Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                      To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                      Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                      The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                      One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                      • How you feel
                      • What time of day it is
                      • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                      • How your mind and body reacts

                      This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                      2. Reduce Your Commitments

                      When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                      If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                      When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                      Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                      3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                      If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                      Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                      If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                      Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                      Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                      4. Express More Gratitude

                      Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                      It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                      Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                      5. Focus On Yourself

                      Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                      There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                      But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                      We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                      6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                      Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                      Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                      The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                      Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                      7. Take a Power Nap

                      When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                      Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                      This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                      8. Take More Exercise

                      The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                      Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                      The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                      You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                      9. Get More Quality Sleep

                      To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                      Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                      My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                      10. Improve Your Diet

                      Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                      Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                      On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                      To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                      Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                      Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                      11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                      Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                      When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                      Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                      My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                      12. Get Hydrated

                      Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                      Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                      If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                      The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                      The Bottom Line

                      These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                      If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                      Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                      [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                      [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                      [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                      [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                      [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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