There are so many diet and exercise plans it can be confusing to understand which is the BEST one for your body goals. And the many different studies out there with conflicting information make deciding which workout to prioritise, difficult. I get that, as I have tried many different activities over the years, including running, CrossFit, aerobics (back in the day!), SPIN, to name but a few.
So, what is so great about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts and why has HIIT become so popular with fitness gurus? And is it an effective way for women over 40 to lose weight?
HIIT has become increasingly popular for good reason over the last 5 to 10 years. But one of the attractive features for me, as a busy working mum is that it doesn’t take much time and it can be done almost anywhere – at home if necessary or in the park, so it’s very EASY to fit it into your daily life.
There are also fantastic health benefits and it’s an extremely effective way to lose fat, quite quickly if you combine this with a good diet, which you can read about in this article. HIIT is even more effective if you combine your 2-3 times a week HIIT sessions with weight training protocol and you can read more about this in my article on this blog. I would recommend you incorporate HIIT over Low Impact Steady State (LISS) cardio as it is far more effective.
So, here are the five reasons you should include HIIT workouts in your regime:
- Studies indicate as little as 27 minutes of HIIT three times per week produces the same anaerobic and aerobic improvement (oxygen consumption) as 60 minutes of steady-state cardio five times per week, so it’s great if you’re busy and trying to fit something quick into your schedule.
- HIIT workouts for women are super-efficient at burning fat and you actually burn fat for 24 to 48 hours after the workout.
- If you have read any of my other blogs you know that I am a BIG advocate of lifting weights, especially for women over the age of 40. You can read more about that here, but you don’t want to perform workouts that may impact on your efforts to build muscle and HIIT is fantastic for boosting Human Growth Hormone, which boosts fat loss, improves insulin sensitivity and promotes muscle growth. Don’t be scared of muscle growth and ‘getting bulky’ you are just putting muscle back on that you have lost with age and you can read more about that here.
- HIIT cardio is great for your overall fitness level, because you are working your body really hard and increasing your heart rate for short bursts of activity.
- You can do HIIT workouts almost anywhere. It could be in the gym, going for an outdoor run, at home, on an exercise machine, jumping rope and so on.
All these benefits apply to you if you’re over 40 and especially if you are interested in looking after your health overall, HIIT is great. I have seen some fantastic results on women I know and with my own body transformation journey, particularly when I am going thought a fat loss phase. It’s an excellent way to lose fat but is most effective when you combine with a weight lifting regime and a good diet.
So now that you understand what the benefits are. How do you perform HIIT workouts? Typically, you do 30 seconds to 1 minute of very high-intensity activity, for example sprinting, high knees on the spot or row then a minute’s rest. Workouts can be from anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes. If you are not very fit yet or used to exercise yet, start off with a small amount of 10 minutes and just increase the intensity over time with that 10 minutes.
The circuit-style format using small pieces of equipment like kettlebells, dumbbells, a medicine ball and jump rope are a great way to incorporate HIIT into your routine as it keeps it’s interesting and exciting which is great for motivation.
I have made a video here explaining how you can do a typical circuit style HIIT workout:
Now that you (hopefully) understand the benefits of HIIT, read my article here on why you should also include weight training in your workout routine