This Is How Many Days a Week You Need to Do HIIT to Lose Weight
Fitness trainers and dietitians agree that losing weight isn't just about exercising hard to burn calories. Registered dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, of Whole Health Nutrition, said a big chunk of weight-loss success has to do with your diet. David Chesworth, an ACSM-certified personal trainer and wellness coach at Hilton Head Health, agreed and told POPSUGAR that the right nutrition plan is key. The fact is, both nutrition and exercise will help you find weight-loss success; if you're doing one without the other, you'll have a much harder time.
Chesworth added that a combination of diet and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), specifically, can help with weight loss, especially when it comes to reducing belly fat. HIIT might sound intimidating if you've never done it before, but these short, intense workouts are more accessible than you might think. You can do them at home with no equipment, if necessary, and you can modify them to fit your fitness level, too. So what exactly is HIIT, and why does it work so well? And how often should you do it to see weight-loss results?
What Is HIIT?
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a type of workout structured in short intervals, with moves that you perform at almost your max effort. Those high-intensity intervals are followed by longer recovery periods or rest. The secret to HIIT is in how hard you work during your intense intervals. Your goal is to work out at 90 percent of your max, which trains your body to work in anaerobic mode, which helps you become more efficient at producing and using energy. The result? Your body's fat-burning potential increases, and the pounds melt away. Boom!
What Are the Benefits of HIIT?
One major benefit of HIIT is how effective it is at helping your body lose weight, but it's got even more to offer as a form of exercise.
- HIIT can produce the EPOC effect. The EPOC (excess postexercise oxygen consumption) effect is a state in which your body has to work to make up the oxygen deficit it experiences after intense exercise. When you experience the EPOC effect, as is common after HIIT workouts, you're still consuming oxygen at a high rate, which requires more energy, which means you're burning more calories — even though you're no longer exercising. (Note that the EPOC effect typically lasts one to two hours and results in a modest amount of calories burned.)
- HIIT takes less time than steady-state workouts. HIIT workouts typically last 30 to 45 minutes. They're designed to be short, because you can only maintain the necessary intensity for a short amount of time before your body needs to rest, which makes them more efficient for weight loss than most steady-state workouts, which require more time to burn the same amount of calories.
- HIIT burns more fat than lower-intensity workouts. If you're specifically targeting body fat, HIIT is a good choice. A 2019 review found that people burned almost 29 percent more fat through HIIT workouts than through more moderate-intensity workouts.
How Often Should I Do HIIT to Lose Weight?
So HIIT is where it's at when it comes to losing weight, but how often do you need to do it to see results? ACE-certified fitness trainer John Kersbergen said, "The most efficient way to get results is to do some form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for a total-body workout and to focus on strength training certain body parts (upper body, lower body, core) on different days of the week." And no need to suffer for hours at the gym. Kersbergen said, "The whole workout including warmup doesn't need to be more than 45 minutes to be effective." And two to three times a week is a good place to start.
If you can't do a whole 30- or 45-minute session, break it up throughout the day or aim for shorter workouts more often in the week. Keep reading for some HIIT workouts to get you started.
— Additional reporting by Maggie Ryan