At any given time, up to 66% of Americans are “on a diet.” For years, we’ve been told that there’s no magic weight loss solution — and that if we’re looking to target specific body parts for weight loss, that we’re totally out of luck. Even dancing, which can boosts metabolism and burns up to 400 calories in just 30 minutes (or an hour of squash, which burns between 600 and 1000 calories), isn’t a do-it-all workout solution. But a recent study has revealed that there’s a specific workout routine that might allow you to lose fat in one of the most popular “problem areas.” You’ll just need to commit to a different kind of fitness regime if you want to see results.
In general, staying active is an essential part of weight loss and maintenance. Unfortunately, less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, with only one in three receiving the recommended amount of physical activity each week. Although many of us are leading more sedentary lives these days, 30% of adults who exercise on a daily basis say they get their fitness on by walking. As it turns out, that might not be doing quite enough to make a difference. New research shows that HIIT — or high-intensity interval training — might be a lot more effective for muscle development and weight loss, particularly in terms of abdominal fat loss. Although steady, moderate intensity workouts can still allow you to lose weight, the study found that HIIT participants actually lost 28.5% more weight than those who followed a more traditional workout program.
That might be due to the uniquely iconic features of HIIT. These types of workouts are characterized by short bursts of intensive cardio activities followed by a few minutes of rest. According to researchers, the HIIT workouts involved four to eight high-intensity intervals of one minute in length followed by three to five minutes of rest. The group following the other plan simply did 30 minutes of moderate exercise per session. Over 12 weeks, both groups participated in three sessions each week. By the time the study had concluded, the HIIT participants had lost four more pounds of body fat on average, compared to those in the moderate intensity group. HIIT subjects also decreased their waistlines by about an inch and actually gained 1.5 pounds of lean muscle on average.
Since more than 90% of women and 10% of men experience dimply thighs at some point during their lives, the idea that HIIT could help to get you in shape by summertime might be very welcome news indeed. It’s also very promising for people who have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, as abdominal fat can increase the risk of heart problem development.
As study lead author, Yaoshan Dun, explained in a statement: “A considerable amount of research on HIIT has been done in athletes to demonstrate its ability to improve total exercise capacity and sports performance. Scientists and clinicians are just beginning to recognize the power that HIIT may have in clinical populations to prevent a second heart attack in patients who’ve already had one.”
Of course, you can benefit from a HIIT workout even if you have no heart attack risk factors. While it’s certainly not a magic pill that will allow you to stay on the couch all day and eat junk food, it seems like a much more effective and potentially enjoyable way to work out than slogging through a half hour on the treadmill every day. Experts recommend that if you want to try this type of high-intensity workout at home that you slowly incorporate the most common elements (like burpees, squat jumps, and other moves) into your routine to allow your body to adjust.