HIIT the Fat-Burning Spot

The body is often compared to a well-oiled machine; like a smooth ride in a luxurious car it takes us from place to place in style. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), however, forces the body into a rough ride; it basically tells it to stop, speed up, stop, speed up, stop and speed up again. Yet somehow that constant braking actually helps our bodies become more efficient. Interval training has been around for a while, but recently HIIT has become more popular. Traditionally a cardio exercise, it’s different from normal interval training because it pushes people to their maximum, then lets them recover. This process has been shown to limit the amount of muscle-loss during weight-loss, among other benefits. “There’s not a typical exercise, so we combine cardio and strength; intense cardio for a minute, then a strength move after,” explains Gretchen Dusseau, co-founder of System of Strength, a HIIT exercise studio in Upper Arlington. “So it really combines strength and cardio, which is your best format for burning fat.” Not only is it the best method for burning fat, but science shows that it increases your VO2 intake. Similar to a combustion engine that needs the right amount of air to run smoothly, our VO2 is how much oxygen our body uses to convert energy—so it can make our metabolism run smoother and faster. “It does increase endurance and creates an after-burn,” said Keri Croft, the other co-founder at System of Strength. The after-burn is the period of additional calorie-burning after you work out. HIIT has one of the highest after-burns, which further increases the fat-burning effects of the exercise, especially compared to traditional monotonous workouts. Variations of HIIT can be found in different exercises and gyms. In fact, HIIT is allegedly based on Tabata training. Tabata uses the same premise of starting and stopping, based on scientific study of Japanese athletes. The intervals consist of one movement (jumping rope, lunges, squats, etc.) done at maximum effort for 20 seconds and then 10 seconds of rest. You do this for eight intervals, only lasting four minutes. The intensity of the four minutes increases both aerobic and anaerobic metabolic functions, as well as the traditional benefits from HIIT. There’s no denying our heart is our engine, so doing cardio helps maintain its life and efficiency, similar to regularly scheduled oil changes. There is another HIIT variation that’s more like a full-on tune-up, though. “What we do is five-zone heart-rate interval training, which is a slightly different thing than High-Intensity Interval Training,” said Chan Gannaway, fitness education director for Orangetheory Fitness in Dublin. The five exercise zones are healthy heart, fat-burning, aerobic, anaerobic and performance (where athletes do sport-specific activities). At Orangetheory, they apply HIIT intervals to all workouts — strength and resistance, indoor rowing for power and treadmill training. “You could technically only do this and get a full-body workout every single time you walk in the studio, incorporating muscle endurance, strength and power every single time. And we always finish our workout with three to four minutes of focused flexibility,” Gannaway said. “It could be the only thing you need.” Whether you use HIIT for weight-loss or to keep your engine running properly, that it will be a bumpy ride—and it will be good for you.   System of Strength is located at 1479 Delashmut Ave. For more info visit www.systemofstrength.com. Orangetheory Fitness Studio is located in Dublin at 7581 Sawmill Rd. For more info visit www.orangetheoryfitness.com.