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
45-Minute HIIT Workout to Help You Lose Weight
If you're looking to burn calories, lose body fat, and gain muscle, this 45-minute HIIT workout, designed by ACE-certified fitness instructor John Kersbergen, is all you need to maximize your gym time and effectively lose weight in the shortest amount of time. You'll do moves like mountain climbers, goblet squats, and tricep push-ups to work your whole body.
- Jump rope (if you don't have one, just pretend!)
- Medium- to heavy-weight dumbbells (five to 20 pounds)
20-Minute HIIT Workout to Burn Fat
Here's a basic 20-minute HIIT workout designed to help you burn fat. You don't need any equipment (a jump rope is optional) but you'll work up a sweat fast with moves like burpees, plank jacks, and V-ups. With 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest, this workout is the definition of fast, furious, and effective.
- Jump rope (or just pretend)
30-Minute Calorie-Burning, Tabata-Style HIIT Workout
Take your HIIT workout to the next level with this super-Tabata sweat sesh from Equinox trainer Raneir Pollard. Tabata is a specific type of HIIT workout with a 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off structure, so be warned that the pace is relentless and you'll be sweating in minutes!
- Medium-weight dumbbells
20-Minute Outdoor Running HIIT Workout
Here's a basic HIIT running workout you can do outside right now. You'll switch back and forth between different paces (think: a pace you could run while holding a conversation versus a sprint that's 90 percent of your max speed) for your work and rest intervals, giving you some time to rest and before you gear up into a fast run. No equipment required — just lace up your shoes, warm up, and get ready to run and sweat!
Equipment needed: none
45-Minute Calorie-Torching Tabata Workout
16-Minute Bodyweight HIIT Workout
This 16-minute HIIT workout involves eight basic bodyweight moves, many of which are plyometric exercises. In other words, you'll be jumping a lot, which burns more calories and will have you working up a serious sweat. That's why it's only 16 minutes long — you'll be too tired to go much longer!
Equipment needed: none
10-Minute Bodyweight HIIT Workout
Only have 10 minutes to get a workout in? Join trainer Mercedes Owens for this 10-minute bodyweight HIIT workout, which is full of classic calorie-burning moves like squats, lunges, and mountain climbers. Get ready to sweat!
Equipment needed: none