Sunday, December 28, 2008

HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training Myth

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the new fad training techniques that promises quick strength gains and immediate weight loss. HIIT is a training technique that involves many strenuous, short intensity workouts, such as doing wind sprints and super sets. In this post, I'll explain the magic behind the weight loss involved in HIIT.

From my experience, most people who follow HIIT believe that HIIT is the best, most efficient workout when it comes to burning fat. This belief is supported by the fact that they end up losing 5-10 lbs in their first week of HIIT. This doesn't happen with most workout plans, so HIIT must be the real thing! Most horses can't answer math questions, but that doesn't mean Clever Hans could do arithmetic. The secret behind the quick weight loss resulting from HIIT can be found by looking at the fuel you burn when you are doing high intensity exercises.

During high intensity exercises, your muscles' demand for oxygen exceeds your body's supply of oxygen. Thus, your body must create energy, ATP, anaerobically (without oxygen). This means your muscles burn glucose, which is stored in the body as glycogen, instead of fat (as mentioned in an earlier post, you need oxygen to get energy from fat). Glucose and glycogen are polar molecules, which means they attract and hold onto water molecules.

In HIIT, the high intensity exercises burn your glycogen stores. Without the glycogen holding onto the water molecules, your body excretes water that was held by the glycogen as urine, sweat, or moisture in your breath (yes, technically you lose weight whenever you breathe...or talk...explains why my girlfriend is so skinny). This loss of water is responsible for the immediate weight loss seen in HIIT. Ironically, for those people who think that HIIT burns fat, the high intensity exercises cause your muscles to stop burning fat and to start burning glucose.

I'm not saying that HIIT doesn't help you lose weight. Obviously, I just stated that it initially results in the loss of water weight; however, as far as I'm concerned, exercise is exercise and burning calories doing HIIT will result in weight loss, just like burning calories any other way will result in weight loss. People should just realize that there are no easy ways to make your body instantaneously lose 20 pounds of fat. The most effective way to lose weight is to find a workout routine that is both strenuous and fun, something maintainable that you can do for an extended period of time. Of course if that doesn't work, just try talking more.


high intensity training said...

HIIT has really picked up in the recent times due to its versatility and the results that it shows in a very less span of time.

Anish said...

I agree that HIIT has become popular and I think it is a good addition to a well rounded training regiment.

The problem I have with the public's general opinion of HIIT is that many people believe that the weight loss they see after the first few days is attributed to loss of fat, which just isn't true.

However, I think HIIT has a place in a training program that includes endurance training as well.