HIIT Workouts & the Afterburn: How to Burn More Calories Post-Workout

What the heck does HIIT mean?

First thing’s first, what is a HIIT workout? Let’s start by breaking down the word itself, HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. HIIT workouts usually combine short periods of intense exercise that get your heart rate pumping, with recovery periods that are designed to bring your heart rate back down. This rise and fall in intensity produce several health benefits. According to Health Line these benefits include:

1) Burning a lot of calories in a short period of time (alright #1 alone just sold me. Efficient workouts over lengthy workouts am I right?!)

2) Increasing your metabolic rate for hours after exercise (this is often referred to as the afterburn as you are burning calories in the hours after completing your workout. The workouts may be intense but that pay off will have you doing your happy dance as you burn calories from your couch long after your workout ended)

3) Can lead to weight reduction (specifically fat reduction because duh we’re trying gain muscle and lose that extra little quarantine love)

4) Can lead to an increase in muscle

5) Can improve oxygen consumption through interval training

6) Can reduce heart rate and blood pressure (we want that resting heart rate to be cool as a cucumber. A low resting heart rate means we have a strong heart)

7) Can reduce blood sugar (if you are prone to or if type 2 diabetes runs in your family HIIT training could be a great workout for you!)

But like, everybody’s doing it! Why are HIIT workouts so popular?

HIIT workouts have become incredibly popular for clients that are seeking to lose weight. HIIT workouts generally pack a punch and in increasing the intensity of your workout, you can increase the benefits while reducing the amount of time spent working out. Sounds like a win, win am I right?

Now that we know that HIIT workouts are extremely effective for those with the goal of losing weight, let’s find out why, shall we? Lucky for us, that can be explained through another acronym; EPOC.

That sounds great but what in the world is EPOC other than the sound a chicken makes? According to Women’s Health Magazine, EPOC stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.

Cool but I still don’t get it!?

What those fancy pants words mean is essentially that after we exercise our body has to work to repay the oxygen that it used during our workout. Think of your body’s O2 levels like a bank. During your workout you’re making it rain like Lil Wayne at a strip club. But you’re not making Lil Wayne type of cash, so after your night out you have to head back to that 9-5 and pay up for all the money you spent. Back to fitness terms, that oxygen repayment is often referred to as the afterburn. As your body repays the oxygen used during your workout, you’re also burning calories because your body is still working to pay back that oxygen lost even if you’re at rest. So that means, not only did you burn calories during your workout but you’re continuing to burn calories long after your workout is done. This can happen for up to 24 hours after your workout! Sign me up!

When training at high intensities, such as with a HIIT workout, we can achieve a greater EPOC than with moderate exercise executed at a steadier pace. According to Women’s Health Magazine, HIIT workouts produce the highest EPOC effect of any workout because they are high intensity, are anaerobic (essentially require short bursts of energy) and utilize fast-twitch muscles.

I’m hooked! But how do I maximize my EPOC to be burning more calories post workout?

According to Les Mills, there are a variety of ways to maximize your EPOC, aka wave goodbye to calories while you kick it on your couch after your workout.

1) Since there is a direct relationship between the amount of energy used during your workout and the amount of EPOC, the harder you go during your workouts, the higher the level of EPOC and calorie burn post workout that you’ll experience. However, it’s important to stay within your limits and know your target heart rate to make sure that you’re also staying safe during your workouts. We want to push ourselves within our own limits!

2) Full body exercises working all major muscle groups also lead to higher levels of EPOC. So get that whole body working in order to reap the afterburn benefits.

3) Hell no H20! Just kidding, hydration is a key component in speeding up the removal of lactic acid in our bodies. This is incredibly important for your recovery so that you can hit your next HIIT workout without taking days to recover in between.

4) Sleep and good nutrition also contribute to good recovery. So, if you’re really wanting to reap the benefits of your killer workout, make sure you are getting enough sleep and chowing down on some kale and quinoa.

Get out that notepad! Here are some killer HIIT workouts to try!

Since HIIT workouts are intense in nature (it’s in the word itself), you want to be following a class or program that you actually enjoy with a trainer that is going to help you get the results you desire! Here are some of my favorite HIIT workouts:

1) Group fitness classes like Orange Theory and Barry’s Bootcamp. These classes often combine interval training on cardio machines with weight, TRX or bodyweight interval training. If you’re looking to workout in a group setting and have your butt kicked by a trainer… these workout classes are for you!

2) Follow along workout videos such as; Shaun T’s Insanity. You read right; this workout is called Insanity for a reason! The workout is a push but your results will likely be equally as Insane. This is a 60-day workout that can be found on BeachBody on Demand. Or you can go old school like me and order the DVDs… yes, I said DVDs, I can hear you judging from here. You don’t need to go to the gym or pick up any weights but you will be guaranteed to push your limits with this full body interval circuit-based workout.

3) Spinning classes. Generally, you can decide your pace and resistance in a spin class. But if you kick into high gear and get that heart rate up, spinning can be a great HIIT workout (and you usually get to listen to some pretty fire music to keep your mind off the burn).

4) Versa climber HIIT classes. I can honestly say I’ve never felt a burn quite like I have after a versa climber class. This workout is low impact but high intensity and it will get your whole body involved. These workouts offered at fitness studios such as Rise Nation, have become increasingly popular with athletes and will whip you into shape as you climb to the beat in a custom-lit room. Who needs the club when you can climb?

5) Fit Concierge! That’s right, you can book a HIIT workout now with your favorite trainer right here on the app. Since Fit Concierge offers one on one sessions, you will have the trainer’s undivided attention making sure you are keeping the proper form throughout and working up a sweat as they encourage you to push through and test your limits. You’re just a click away from a great workout that will have you burning calories long after you’ve put in the work!

Now that we know what a HIIT workout is, why they are so effective and how they can lead to that desired afterburn post-workout, I think it might be time to schedule in a HIIT workout and try it for yourself. Remember that, like with anything, if you want the results you have to commit to putting in the work! If you’re ready to make that commitment, get ready to feel great and wave goodbye to those extra quarantine pounds.

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