To lose fat, you're going to have to focus on your nutrition and exercise, but getting into a consistent workout routine is a great starting point. Strength training and cardio can help you lose fat, but HIIT might just be the secret weapon you didn't know you needed to help maximize fat loss.
Long, steady-state cardio is OK, but it can become catabolic and break down your muscle tissue. To preserve your muscle tissue and still lose fat, Rondel King, MS, CSCS, an exercise physiologist at NYU Langone's Sports Performance Center, recommends adding HIIT into your workout routine. "It gives you a hormonal response that's conducive to muscle growth, and it's more anabolic — where you're developing muscle tissue, muscles, collagen, cartilage, things of that nature," he said in a previous interview.
To reap the benefits of HIIT, Rondel recommends doing HIIT workouts two to three days a week. You should also strength train to lose fat and build muscle — aim for two to three days of strength training a week, Rondel said. Although cardio has the potential to become catabolic, there's no need to cut it completely out of your weekly program if you enjoy it. Instead, keep your steady-state cardio workouts at or under 30 minutes total per session, doing three to four sessions a week. To fit all these workouts into your weekly routine, consider formatting your workouts like the following schedule:
- Monday: one hour of strength training
- Tuesday: 30 minutes of strength training and 30 minutes of cardio
- Wednesday: HIIT workout
- Thursday: rest day
- Friday: 30 minutes of strength training and 30 minutes of cardio
- Saturday: HIIT workout
- Sunday: rest day
Feel free to switch up the above example so that it fits your schedule and training preferences. As a reminder, exercise can help you lose fat, but you should also focus on your nutrition. Generally speaking, make sure you're staying hydrated, try to minimize the amount of processed foods you consume, and opt for more whole foods. For more nutritional guidance, we recommend speaking with a registered dietitian.
Get ready to lose body fat and build lean muscle with a few of our favorite HIIT workouts:
- A 25-minute total-body HIIT workout
- A 25-minute abs and legs HIIT workout
- A 15-minute equipment-free HIIT workout
- A 30-minute beginner HIIT workout