in·ten·si·ty /inˈtensədē/ (noun):
The quality of being of extreme force, degree, or strength.
Okay, so you want to lose your body fat, get in shape, be healthy, and show the world you’re a bad ass. I wrote last week about the three phases of keto mastery and I wanted to expand a little on the subject of HIIT training as a way to supercharge your fat loss efforts.
If you remember from the numerous times I’ve mentioned HIIT, it is about absolute exertion for a short burst and an even short rest, and then you repeat that cycle. Aside from lifting heavy stuff, HIIT the best way to kick your fat burning into overdrive. But, the thing about HIIT is that it has to be VERY, VERY INTENSE. You cannot go halfway on any of the intervals. You have to go all out, give everything you have, and let it all hang out. If you make yourself puke, you’re doing it right. The level of intensity you put into it will be seen by the level of rewards you get out of it.
So what makes HIIT so effective? Here’s a list:
- It’s efficient use of your time
- You deplete glycogen quickly
- Your heart responds
- You don’t need fancy equipment or a gym
- You’ll love the challenge
You can get an effective workout done in less than 10 minutes using HIIT. You will ignite your entire body, getting your whole body involved and making your body respond in order to be strong.
As long as your body has sugar to burn, it will burn it. Only by removing the sugar will you force your body to burn fat, that includes the stored sugar you have in your muscles. Your body wants to stay alive, so it does things to make sure of that result. One of those things is storing sugar in the form of glycogen, which is, essentially just glucose (sugar) molecules that have been strung together to form a bigger molecule. Glycogen exists in two places, your liver and your muscles. Glycogen that enters your liver can exit your liver and be used wherever your body needs it. Glycogen that enters your muscles cannot leave. So it it must be used by the muscles. And your muscles will use that glycogen for energy as long as it’s there. HIIT makes those glycogen deposits burn away. Fast. So you become a fat burning machine (especially if you eat high fat and moderate protein after you work out). The harder you work, the faster you burn through your glycogen.
HIIT is known as an anaerobic exercise. That means you are working so hard that your body cannot use oxygen to burn fuel. It has to rely upon a completely different mechanism to supply energy. Anaerobic exercise is necessarily short in duration, because if you go for longer than, say, four minutes, your body will start burning oxygen again. But trust me when I say: You will not be able to go “all out” for longer than 45-60 seconds. All that to tell you that your heart responds quite well, and quite quickly, to anaerobic exercise. A short 4-minute HIIT session can have the same, or better, long-term benefits for your heart as a 30-minute run. So you really get a lot of bang for your exercise buck by doing HIIT.
HIIT is fantastic for it’s health benefits, but it’s also awesome because it doesn’t require a lot of time or equipment. You can do a HIIT session in your living room, a the local high school track, on a running path, or in your driveway. The only thing stopping a HIIT session is your imagination.
I can promise you two things about HIIT workouts. You will hate every second of it while you are doing it, and you will be ecstatic when you finish. The fourth, fifth, and sixth intervals are the absolute worst. You’ll want to quit. You might want to throw up. My advise is throw up and continue. You’ll love it when it’s over.
One word of caution: If you’re anything like me, you’ll see results by doing HIIT 2-3 times per week and figure that you’ll see even more results if you start doing more. And that may be true, up to a point. You don’t want to overtax your body, and end up overtraining. You’ll start to break down, get sick, and risk getting hurt. So stick with the 2-3 days per week and reap the rewards. Remember, the ketogenic lifestyle is all about balance of risk and reward.
I use sprinting as my example for HIIT, mostly because that’s what I do. But you don’t have to run. You can swim, bike, or do bodyweight exercises, too. You can combine these in any way you want:
Plank to pushup
Side to side push up
Inch worms (stationary)
If you don’t know what some of those are, leave me a comment and I’ll explain…or maybe I’ll demonstrate them.