resistance training for weight loss

There was a time when the best advice from fitness experts was that you spend hours in the gym doing aerobic workouts in order to improve your cardio fitness, build better muscles and lose your stubborn extra belly fat. Well, there is a complete new twist to this and that is the use of high intensity interval training (HIIT).

Unlike other quick weight loss advices that most people consider ‘too good to be true‘, the beauty of short-term high intensity interval training is that it is a proven, time-efficient and safe alternative to effectively lose excess body weight when compared to traditional long-term low to moderate intensity aerobic training exercises.

The problem with the old strategy was that after doing low intensity aerobic activities through a specific training method for a specific time period – usually about four to eight weeks – your body will normally adapt to this specific training method and overall progress will start to slow down after this time period.

If there is anything the human body is great at doing, it is the ability to adapt. Thus, while low intensity aerobic exercises have the ability to help you reduce excess body weight, with time the effect of these exercises will start diminishing due to the body’s adaptation. In essence, you might have reached a “plateau” which is generally an indication that your body has successfully adapted to your current routine and therefore needs a change.

This is obviously one of the main strategies behind using HIIT as it does not allow your body to get used to what you are doing by interrupting its rhythm. High intensity interval training is a specialized form of interval training whereby you incorporate short intervals of maximum intensity exercises with longer intervals of low to moderate intensity exercises.

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Basically HIIT is you doing a number of short burst of intense exercise followed with a long recovery break in between. By giving your body this abrupt interval jolt, the body automatically – howbeit unexpectedly – has to turn things up a bit and search for more energy to meet the sudden increase in demand.

To meet this increased demand for energy, the muscles have three major options for sourcing this energy fuel – namely fat, carbohydrate, and protein and these can be gotten from either the bloodstream or the muscles themselves.

Fats generally require more oxygen to burn compared to carbohydrates and they provide the major energy used during low intensity aerobic activities. However, if sufficient intensity is applied to your aerobic activities, your body will suddenly run short of oxygen supply therefore a reduction in the amount of fat that can be metabolized from the blood stream.

Therefore, for the body to keep up with this sudden energy demand, it will automatically switch its source of energy to primarily burning calories from the carbohydrates in your muscles instead of sourcing it from the blood stream. This is a process referred to as anaerobic exercise, a process whereby the body is exercising so fast that the blood stream cannot supply enough oxygen to the muscles – making the muscles exercise without oxygen.

Having used up the limited glycogen (mixture of glucose and water) in the muscles during the short energy burst, the body goes straight to the stored body fat during the recovery interval and the cycle continues to the end of the workout session. This process creates a big oxygen deficit in your body.

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The beauty of HIIT is however actually experienced after the whole workout session is over as the body continues to burn fat from the stored body fat to replace the used up carbohydrates (glycogen) from the muscles. This fat burning process can continue for up to 48 hours after exercising and herein lies the awesome power of HIIT – supercharged increase in your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your body basically keeps burning fat even while you at rest for almost 48 hours – this is truly awesome!

Today, high intensity interval training is the best way to go for any individual who wants to lose weight, have seen little or no results from their regular workouts, or has little time to spare but want to achieve some great results from their workout sessions.

High intensity interval training can be used during your sprinting, swimming, rowing, cycling, walking, or cardio machine (stationary bike, cross-trainer or treadmill) exercise sessions. Including HIIT into your regular fitness routine will help you increase your endurance, improve oxygen intake, build more muscles and burn calories fasters – long after you have finished your workout session.

All in all, HIIT is pretty physically demanding and definitely not meant for everybody. Therefore for those who are relatively new to aerobics or who are not in good shape, those with cardiovascular problems, or any other serious health concerns, the best advice would be to start with low to moderate intensity exercises for some time before attempting any form of high intensity interval training.