You want to work effectively on your body fat percentage, but don't feel like spending hours on cardio sessions? Then interval trainingHigh Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), exactly what you are looking for. Studies have shown that this form of training gets the fat metabolism going much more efficiently than the classic steady-state cardio. We tell you what is important for a successful HIIT training, how it works and what you have to pay attention to.

How does interval training work?

High Intensity Interval Training is a form of training for the cardiovascular system that consists of high-intensity intervals and short recovery intervals. Using the example of running training, you can imagine it as a combination of longer sprints and short trot phases.

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In training practice, the high-intensity intervals usually have a length of about 30-40 seconds. These are followed by recovery intervals of 15-30 seconds. The optimal ratio of high intensity intervals to low intensity intervals depends mainly on your training experience.

The more experienced you are or the more resilient your body is, the shorter the recovery intervals can be. Since HIIT training is significantly more intensive than normal cardio training, the usual training duration is also only 15-20 minutes. You won't be able to do much more - otherwise you won't have given your all during the intervals.

Breaks are part of the HIIT training

The recovery intervals are more important than you might think. If you don't follow them, you are doing the training wrong and you will have little success. After all, interval training is about your body learning to work variably and efficiently managing the alternation of high and low heart rate zones.

This alternation between maximum load and rest is an excellent cardio workout. Accordingly, the recovery heart rate is a very accurate measure of your fitness. The faster your heart rate drops after a workout, the fitter you are.

More body fat reduction in less time

Several studies prove the efficiency of interval training in terms of fat burning. One Canadian study from the 1990s is particularly surprising. At that time, it was found that study participants who did HIIT training lost significantly more body fat during the study period than those who did conventional cardio training. What is particularly surprising is that the calories consumed during the actual training were twice as high with conventional cardio training.

This result was recently confirmed again by a study published in the "Journal of Obesity". This study confirmed that the HIIT subjects not only reduced body fat and increased aerobic performance but also built up considerable muscle. And all this even without a change in diet. But why is it that you lose more body fat with a significantly shorter workout that burns fewer calories?

Secret of success afterburning effect

The magical effect that melts body fat is called the afterburn effect. This effect is a consequence of the fact that you stress your body at a very high intensity level for a long time during HIIT training. In simple terms, your body consumes more energy and oxygen during this load than it can provide through the usual metabolic processes. This creates a so-called oxygen debt.

Your body has to pay this debt after training. While the organism does this, the metabolism runs on a higher level. Depending on the length and intensity of the training, this afterburner effect can last up to 48 hours. This means that your body burns more calories than normal in the 48 hours after the workout. Even if this is only a few percent, the additional consumption is clearly measurable.

6 unbeatable advantages of interval training

  • You do not need a gym for HIIT training.

  • HIIT is flexible. You can do it with equipment and body weight exercises, or even when running, cycling and even rowing.

  • You burn more calories or fat through the afterburning effect.

  • The training can easily be adapted to your fitness level due to the interval length.

  • Compared to conventional cardio training, you burn more fat in less time.

  • The high intensity and variability of HIIT training strengthens your most important muscle: the heart.

What you need to know about HIIT training

One thing is important: Interval training is not a training form for every day due to the enormous intensity. These high-intensity workouts not only put a strain on your muscles, but also on your central nervous system (CNS). Both "systems" have to recover before you can put them under stress again. Therefore, allow your body to rest for at least 48 hours after the interval training. Two HIIT units per week are therefore absolutely sufficient. Everything else increases the risk of overloading and overtraining.

Interval training is only half the battle

The high load results in several findings. First and foremost, interval training is only half the battle for comprehensive fitness. Because even if HIIT trains your cardiovascular fitness well and melts body fat in a minimum of time, conventional endurance training is also part of a healthy training concept.

Not even sprinters train only sprints or on the HIIT principle. Long endurance sessions are just as important for achieving real stamina and a healthy, strong heart. So always plan your training with a mixture of both approaches.

How exactly the composition is ideal also depends on your training goals. If you are basically an endurance athlete (e.g. runner or cyclist), you should use interval training as a supplement to normal cardio training. If you are a sprinter or want to optimize your body fat reduction, the opposite rule applies.

For whom is HIIT training not suitable?

Interval training is an effective training method that will save you time and efficiently promote fat loss. Due to the enormous intensity, the training is only suitable for you if your state of health is optimal and you are 100 percent resilient. Especially if you suffer from cardiovascular problems, HIIT training is not suitable for you, because the peak load could lead to health problems.

Before you do your first HIIT interval training you should have your doctor check you out. Ideal is, for example, a performance diagnosis in which you push your body to its performance limits under the supervision of a sports doctor. In this way you will know your limits even during daily training.

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