If you didn't already know about the power of interval training to blast away your muffin top, listen up! A new study has shown that just one minute - yep, 1 minute - of "all-out" exercise can deliver big health, fitness and fat loss benefit.
Also known as Tabata sprints, high-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has become one of the hottest fitness trends of 2014, and for good reason. This turbocharged training style which involves short bursts of high-intensity activity followed by short respite periods, has been proven to boost cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and increase your fat-burning capacity. It’s important to remember however that while one minute of exercise is all the study showed you need, 10 minutes of overall exercise time is involved for a total of 30 minutes per week.
Whether you're a busy working mom or just looking to spice up your workout, the great thing about HIIT is its ability to deliver fast results. You see, most women go about losing weight from their belly and hips all wrong. It's true, any exercise is good exercise, but endless sets of sit-ups and long steady-state sessions on the treadmill do little to shift that stubborn spare-tire. On the flip side, HIIT accelerates your metabolism which causes you to metabolize more fat both during and after your workout. You’ll also finish your workouts quicker, giving you more free time to do the things you enjoy – it’s a win-win situation!
OK, how do I do it? HIIT sessions normally run for 30 minutes or less, but that doesn't mean you can't customize them to fit your needs. If you're just starting out, a work-recovery ratio of 1:2 is ideal (i.e. 15 second high-intensity intervals interspersed with 30 seconds recovery). As your fitness improves, adjust the ratios and total workout time to crank up the difficulty. You can use HIIT with any form of cardio - cycling, running, rowing, sprinting up stairs - whatever takes your fancy. To maximize your results, look to combine your interval training with other activities like yoga, Pilates and resistance training 2-4 times a week.
Don’t neglect the little things, too. Just because you’re not creating a metabolic-firestorm with HITT doesn’t mean that basic, everyday tasks like vacuuming and walking the dog don’t help. They do. Think of every chance to get active as a way to cut-down your muffin top bit-by-bit.
A Word on Nutrition: Naturally, all that hard work in the gym can be easily undone with poor food choices, so it’s doubly-important to eat right. Don’t get caught up in all the different diets out there. Keep things simple. Stay away from processed and refined foods high in sugar and trans-fats (including muffins!) and cut back on the booze and soda. Here’s a great statistic to help put things in perspective. Did you know? 2 glasses of red wince contain the calorie-equivalent of one cinnamon donut! Think about that the next time you’re out on the town; it might not look so appealing.
Instead, eat a variety of natural, whole foods which contain good quality proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats such as low fat yoghurt, quinoa, nuts, eggs, veggies, fruit, oatmeal, red meat, chicken, turkey, lentils, fish and brown rice – just to name a few. Remember, if you’re trying to lose your muffin top, you need to burn off more calories than you consume. Use an online calorie counter/tracker or make an appointment with a nutritionist who will help you create a healthy, balanced calorie-controlled plan to supplement your exercise routine.
The Bottom Line: Whether it is sprinting up stairs or running hard in place, the take-home message from the study is that there’s no excuse not to exercise. In fact, in the time taken to read this article you could have already finished your HIIT workout!