Is there a superior HIIT protocol for fat loss?

Is there a superior HIIT protocol for fat loss?

Is there a superior HIIT protocol for fat loss? 1

It’s been known for some time that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is one of the most effective fat-burning methods of training you can do. More recently however there has been some counter research that is positing that HIIT is not necessarily more effective at burning fat than, say, steady-state exercise, but what it certainly has going for it is efficiency — you can burn through the same amount of fat with HIIT than steady-state in much less time — and also, people seem to enjoy it a lot more.

Quite frankly, that’s enough isn’t it? Surely by definition if I spend 15 minutes on the treadmill for 20 minutes as opposed to 60 minutes and lose the same amount of weight, then surely it is a superior method of weight loss. And if I enjoy it more, then what else can we ask for?
Really it comes down to the trade-off between intensity and time. Keep the intensity low, increase the time; jack up the intensity for bursts, drop the time down.

Well I have one question: what is the best HIIT protocol for the best results? Or more specifically, what should be my high intensity and low intensity split within a single workout? We’ve dug up a study out of Copenhagen, the results of which led the researchers to believe they’d found the holy grail of HIIT.

In what has become known as the 10-20-30 protocol, the research looked at running specifically, and wanted to find the sweet spot, for both athletes, moderately trained people and non-exercisers. They found that the sweet spot was 30 seconds of low intensity work, followed by 20 seconds of moderate work, followed then by 10 seconds of 90 per cent maximal effort. This elicited the greatest result when subjects repeated this split for five minutes, had a two-minute rest, and then repeated for 20–30 minutes total. So really, you’re doing the 30-20-10 split for a total of 15–20 minutes of work with between six and eight minutes of total rest.

They actually took people who already run 14 miles (22 kilometres) a week. After just seven weeks of training with this protocol, the interval group improved their 5km run times by up to one minute and also reduced their blood pressure and cholesterol, when compared to the control group who continued to run the normal 22km per week.

Many experts have sung the praises of this protocol for a few simple reasons: with 10 seconds of all-out effort, as opposed to some other protocols that say anywhere form 20 seconds to 8 minutes, it’s certainly manageable for inexperienced performers as well as seasoned athletes, there is both active rest (in the form of low intensity work), and actual rest (in the form of the two-minute breaks), and the results were staggering.

Try it today guys, on a treadmill, elliptical trainer or exercise bike. Here’s the split:

30-20-10 HIIT Training Protocol
Warm-up: Walk or slow jog for five minutes
Phase 1: 30 seconds of low intensity, 20 seconds of medium intensity, 10 seconds of high intensity X 5.
Rest period: Two minutes of no activity.
Phase 2: 30 seconds of low intensity, 20 seconds of medium intensity, 10 seconds of high intensity X 5.
For some, this will be enough. For those wanting a more challenging workout…
Rest period: Two minutes of no activity.
Phase 3: Phase 2: 30 seconds of low intensity, 20 seconds of medium intensity, 10 seconds of high intensity X 5.

 

Gunnarsson TP, Bangsbo J. The 10-20-30 Training Concept Improves Performance and Health Profile in Moderately Trained Runners. J Appl Physiol. 2012 Jul;113(1):16-24.

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