MIGHTY FIT

The High-Intensity fat-shred plug-in

(Army National Guard photo by Sgt, 1st Class Brian A. Barbour)

Maybe you have a uniform inspection coming up. Maybe you have a hot date. Maybe you want to start your own manscaping Youtube channel.

I'm not here to judge... You wanna look good with your shirt off; I get it. After all, it is one of the main motivations I approve of for working out, along with:

  • Dominate a fight
  • Live forever, and
  • Win

It's actually a lot easier to lose fat than the internet wants you to believe. Just eat at a calorie deficit and train HIIT a couple of times a week. All you need to get your gym-time fat-shred going is here!


What HIIT is

The ultimate HIIT workout... buddy team rushes. "I'm up. They see me. I'm down."

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nathaniel Q. Hamilton)

HIIT (not to be confused with HITT), as I've written before, is a training method designed to burn fat. It's pretty good for what it is designed to do. It's my go-to method with clients to help them burn a little extra fat off their frames faster.

HIIT doesn't build muscle and traditionally doesn't include weights at all, although there are some people who tout its benefit with weights as well.

To me, that's missing the point. HIIT means High Intensity: it's right there in the name. That means it should be a ball-buster, where you're pushing at over 80% of your physical capacity.

The general rule of thumb for HIIT workouts is that you conduct an exercise, like sprints or side-straddle hops, for 10-30 seconds, then you take a break and repeat over and over for about 20-30 minutes.

How it helps with fat loss

Choose simple repetitive movements like battle ropes for your HIIT workouts.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ross A. Whitley)

HIIT workouts have the ability to deplete our immediate energy sources, such as blood sugar and muscle and liver glycogen. Once that is depleted, our bodies have to start pulling energy from other sources.

That point is usually where you are no longer able to push past 80% effort. You hit a wall. When you get to this wall, continuing to work will force your body to start pulling energy from your muscles and lean body mass (because you are putting in so much effort you are in an anaerobic state, and fat can't efficiently fuel exercise when you're in an anaerobic state).

Mobilizing fat for energy requires oxygen. When you are exercising and putting out past 80% effort, you are in an anaerobic state (making energy without the help of oxygen). When you then slow down after putting in that effort, your body comes back into an aerobic state (making energy with the help of oxygen). This is when the fat stores burn.

This is the reason the rest periods are so long in a HIIT workout, to get you back down into an aerobic state. The majority of the fat you burn during HIIT is actually a result of burning out your immediate energy sources so that post-workout, your body (in an aerobic state) has no choice but to burn your fat stores for energy.

Why you shouldn’t do it every day of the week

Row, row, row your boat...straight to fat-loss city.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

HIIT is physically difficult. It makes you sore, it takes time to recover from, and its fat-burning effects last for up to 48 hours. Let's pull these apart.

When you "put out," you naturally get sore. If you are overly sore, your next workout will not be as effective as it could have been had you waited. Whether it's due to physical reasons or mental reasons, you put out less when sore.

Recovery from a proper HIIT workout could take up to 2 days. Proper recovery ensures that you reap all the benefits from the workout.

The Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption Effect (EPOC for short) is one of the beneficial effects of a hard HIIT workout. Your metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn,) gets elevated for up to 48 hours after a HIIT workout. Because of this, you don't need to do the workout more than a couple of times a week.

How to program it and execute a session

HIIT workouts are often made super confusing by trainers; it's actually quite simple.

Choose 2-3 days a week MAX that have at least 48 hours between them.

Choose simple movements that you can repeatedly do efficiently even when tired. Things like stationary bike sprints, rower sprints, running sprints, or simple bodyweight movements. The more complicated the exercise, the less likely you will be able to push past that 80% threshold.

Choose an interval time or distance. If you choose a distance, pick something that will take you no more than 2 minutes to complete. Past 2 minutes of work usually results in dropping below that magic 80% threshold.

Yeah, you can do burpees for a HIIT workout...only if you can keep pace the whole workout! No sandbagging!

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christine Phelps)

Rest long enough for your heart rate to drop below 60% of your max heart rate if you have a heart rate monitor. Otherwise, rest for 2-3 times as long as your exercise took. For example, you should rest for about 3 minutes for a sprint that took 1 minute.

Choose a number of intervals that will take you about 20-30 minutes to complete in total. Or, if you're new to this, stop when your performance drops significantly from your first effort. For example: if your first effort took 80 seconds to run 400m, but your 5th effort took 160 seconds, then it's time to stop. You are clearly depleted of immediate energy and are now tapping into your muscle protein.

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