If you've heard people shouting about how great a HIIT workout for fat loss is, we can vouch for this. This time-efficient workout style is an excellent way to burn energy, boost your metabolism, and build strength without much equipment or spending hours at the gym.
Thankfully, you don't need to look far for a fat-burning routine you can do from anywhere, as we worked with the fitness coaches at F45 Training to develop a five-move routine using some of the best exercises for weight loss, and you only need 25 minutes.
There is a blend of cardio-focused exercises, like mountain climbers, and strength-building moves, like planks and push-ups. You'll do each move for 40 seconds, take a 20-second rest, then start on the next exercise. You'll repeat this circuit five times, and then you're done.
As Amy Brook Partridge, a trainer at F45 Ealing, says: "You have the best of both worlds in one workout. Cardio workouts burn more calories than weight-training, but your metabolism is [raised] for longer after weights... and resistance is better for building muscle."
Amy Brook Partridge is a level 3 certified personal trainer and trainer at F45 Ealing based in London, UK.
Five-move HIIT workout for fat loss
If you're ready to get started, we've detailed all the moves you need below and guidance on safely doing them. It's worth keeping one of the best water bottles for the gym nearby so that you can stay hydrated during the short breaks.
1. High knees and single-leg deadlift
The explosive part of this move gets the heart pumping and improves cardiovascular endurance. Introducing a single-leg deadlift will promote stability and strengthen and tone your glutes. You can also spread the toes of your standing leg and push them into the ground for better balance.
- Stand tall with your back straight and core engaged. Start running on the spot, bringing your knees up to waist level for ten repetitions, and pumping your arms for propulsion.
- Then, plant one leg firmly on the ground while hinging at the hips and leaning forward, ensuring the raised leg is straight as it comes back, keeping your back straight and reaching down to the ground. Come back to a standing position and switch legs.
2. Mountain climbers and shoulder taps
Mountain climbers are an excellent way to combine resistance and cardio training in one movement, using many muscle groups to strengthen arms, shoulders, core, and legs.
Using multiple muscle groups increases your heart rate, helping you burn more calories. While adding shoulder taps increases that strengthening element, leading to muscle development and fat burning.
- Start in a plank position, ensuring your shoulders are over your wrists with the core engaged. Pull your knees into your chest towards your elbows one at a time, using your abs to pull your legs in.
- After ten mountain climbers, hold still in a plank position keeping your core, quads, and glutes engaged, then use one hand to tap the opposite shoulder. Do this six times, alternating the raised hand.
3. Jumping lunges and alternating lunge pulses
Plyometric exercises such as jumping lunges involve exerting maximum force over a short time. This increases muscle power, explosiveness, and body control.
It also helps you increase your calorie burn, leading to greater fat loss. If you struggle with jumping lunges, you can take out the jump.
- Stand tall with your back straight, then jump to a lunge position and repeat on the other side. Your knees shouldn't be past your toes and keep them straight and your chest proud. Repeat five times on each side.
- For the pulses, start in a lunge and bring your back knee as close to the ground as possible while keeping your chest up. Pulse six times, then come up and switch to the other side.
4. Push up combination
The push-up is a great anytime, anywhere exercise and not only works the chest area but is a great all-body workout, training your shoulders, core, legs, and glutes.
By making muscle gains in these areas, you also promote fat loss. Breathe out as you push back up and suck your core in to support your lower back.
- 5 x wide push-ups: begin with your arms wider than shoulder-width apart, either on knees or toes. Then, as you move toward the floor, keep your core engaged.
- 5 x regular push-ups: move your hands to under your shoulders and move towards the floor for five reps, keeping core engaged and not letting your back dip.
- 5 x tricep push-ups: move your hands so forefingers can touch and keep elbows close to your body. Then bring the body down and back up for five reps.
5. Side plank
The plank is an isometric exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, from your core to shoulders and quads. Isometric exercises involve holding a static position for a length of time and help improve strength and endurance.
- Start on one side with your elbow underneath your shoulder and your hips raised. Switch over after 20 seconds or hold for the full 40 seconds and switch sides each round.
Is HIIT three times a week enough to lose weight?
The amount of exercise you need or want to do each week will depend on your fitness goals. But it makes sense to consider whether you can hit your weight loss goals with fewer workouts, especially if you're short on time.
To start, we need to explore how HIIT works. According to Amanda Place, personal trainer and founder of Sculptrition, "HIIT is an effective exercise for weight loss as you can burn lots of calories during the exercise itself while also increasing your resting metabolic rate. This means that the body will continue to burn calories after the workout has finished."
Place states that three sessions of HIIT training per week is enough to lose weight. Under her recommendation, the sessions should ideally be up to 30 minutes and consist of 10-20 second intervals for eight reps with just one minute's rest in between.
But Place also notes that individual needs may vary. "Your exercise plan needs to accommodate those preferences to be successful. Committing to three HIIT sessions per week is pointless if you don't like doing it. If you must force yourself to do it, there is a high probability that you will not stick with it and give up exercising altogether."
"The main rule is to begin with where you are," Place recommends. "Take note of your fitness level and your goals, then increase and improve slowly. There really is no quick fix, at least no quick fix that will give you lasting long-term results."
Amanda Place is a qualified personal trainer and founder of Sculptrition. She has trained as a Health and Nutrition coach, an indoor cycling instructor, a teacher for Les Mills Tone and Bodypump, and a seniors' fitness instructor. She enjoys helping people find workout inspiration and achieve sustainable weight loss.
Do HIIT workouts burn fat?
During a HIIT workout, the aim is to train intensely with minimal rest. The most common format is to do 40 seconds of work, followed by a 20-second break before starting on the next move.
Exercising at a high intensity raises your heart rate, especially when doing cardio-focused activities, which helps you burn energy during your workout, and can help contribute to maintaining a calorie deficit.
Sustaining this high heart rate by keeping your rests short has longer-term effects on your metabolism — the amount of energy you burn throughout the day. As a result, HIIT workout are an extremely effective way to burn fat and hit your weight loss goals.
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James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.
In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.
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