Along with a healthy diet, exercise is a key component of sustainable weight loss. But like any part of the process, some forms of exercise provide more drastic results than others. The one type of workout that’s scientifically proven to make a bigger difference? Interval training.
What Is Interval Training?
Interval training, which is also often called high intensity interval training (HIIT), is a strategy where you alternate between different levels of intensity in the same workout. It could be as simple as walking at a slow pace for one or two minutes, speed-walking for 30 seconds, and then repeating those cycles for a certain period of time. Maybe you switch between two minutes of walking and one minute of running for up to 30 minutes. It’s truly up to you to customize your intervals.
Research shows that these types of workouts can see the same gains but in half the time as something like steady-state, moderate exercise. Not to mention, it’s also critical for building up your aerobic capacity, which is important for long-term heart health.
Not every workout needs to be centered on HITT, either. Experts say just two or three interval workouts per week, with at least 24 hours of recovery in between, is more than enough to reap the benefits.
How Does It Help Weight Loss?
Another major benefit? It can be much more effective for weight loss than other forms of exercise.
New research from the The British Journal of Sports Medicine put this to the test. The research looked at 786 previous studies that focused on interval training versus “moderate-intensity continuous training.” The studies also all took place for a duration of at least four weeks to show long-term results. While both types of exercise led to fat loss, regimens that included regular interval training saw 28.5 percent more reduction in total fat mass on average.
Why does it burn more fat? When there are periods of high intensity as opposed to solely steady-state exercise, muscles use sugar more frequently and eventually more efficiently. This causes a deficit of glucose to the muscles, driving overall fat loss.
While interval training can supercharge weight loss, it’s also important that it’s done in conjunction with a healthy diet and other forms of exercise to see the best results and to have time to recover. Be sure to also talk to your doctor before undertaking a new regimen.