It’s well established that working out can improve your mood, slow down aging, decrease your risk of many diseases, and support a healthy immune system. But while any form of exercise has benefits, not every type is best for burning fat.
If you want the most results for your effort, research suggests that HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is the one to turn to for burning fat and getting lean. Plus, you can easily do it at home, with minimal to no equipment.
High-intensity interval training is a workout that involves intense short bursts of exercise followed by brief rest or intervals of low-intensity exercise. Notice the emphasis on intense. To make up for the intensity, the sets are usually short—between 20 to 90 seconds.
HIIT sessions can last anywhere from 10-30 minutes. This short duration is ideal for people with busy schedules because it provides more benefits than moderate exercise in less than half the time!
HIIT is one of the most effective training methods to sculpt your body. An example of a 20-minute HIIT routine (courtesy of HomeGym101.com) would consist of rounds of 4 minutes, with 40 seconds on the exercise and 20 seconds of rest before the next move:
More advanced routines include a variety of exercises including weighted squats, deadlifts, box jumps, sprints, dips, push-ups and pull-ups.
The magic of HIIT lies in the short intervals of intense exercise. This specific type of exercise triggers a surge of reactions in the body that make it ideal for getting lean. Research shows that HIIT can specifically…
When you burn more calories than you consume in a day, your body begins to use fat as energy. Over time, this can result in a lower body fat percentage. Research suggests that HIIT burns 20-30% more calories compared to moderate forms of exercise (1). This alone is a reason to give HIIT a try.
What makes HIIT so effective is that it encourages your body to burn fat (lipolysis) through multiple mechanisms. Under normal circumstances, your body prefers to use glucose (sugar) as an energy source. But HIIT encourages your body to use fat as an energy source instead.
One of the reasons why this happens is because HIIT causes your body to release a cocktail of compounds including catecholamines and human growth hormone (2, 3). The result is that HIIT has been found to significantly reduce body fat compared to moderate exercise (4).
Blood sugar control plays a huge role in weight management. When your blood sugar levels are chronically high, it signals your pancreas to produce more insulin. This constant stimulation of insulin can cause your body to store the extra sugar in your blood as fat (5).
This is why managing your blood sugar levels is important if you want a lean body. A big part of that is moderating your intake of sugar and refined carbs. But research also suggests that HIIT can both reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance more than regular exercise (6).
When you want to get a lean and trimmed body, losing fat shouldn’t be the only goal. In addition to fat loss, you should also look to improve your muscle tone. Two people can have the same body fat percentage, but if one is more toned, that person will look leaner.
This is another reason why HIIT is so effective. It’s a hybrid of cardiovascular exercise and weight training that work better together. The intense cardio aspect helps you burn more fat, whereas the weight training tones your muscles (7, 8).
Best of all, this type of training doesn’t take long, just 20-30 minutes a session, you can fit it in even on a busy schedule. Most of the exercises use minimal to no gym equipment so they can be done anytime and anywhere. This makes HIIT the ideal home workout.
When it comes to burning fat and getting a lean body, most people resort to cardio—lots of it. The problem is, cardio will only get you mediocre results. If you’re okay with that, then keep going. It’s still really healthy. But if you want to skyrocket your progress, evidence suggests that HIIT is the absolute best option to get lean, burn more fat and tone muscles.