How FITT and HIIT Lead To Weight Loss
When you’re looking to find a sustainable, healthy way to lose weight, you’ve likely come across FITT and HIIT before as types of workouts that could help you reach your goals.
Though diet is often thought of as the more important side of the weight loss equation (that oft-discussed 70/30 rule), what makes exercise worth discussing is how impactful choosing the right kind of workout can be.
Looked at from one perspective, exercise can be thought of as having two goals: weight loss or muscle building. As trainers will tell you, gaining muscle and losing weight are mutually exclusive concepts. This checks out, as muscle weighs more than fat, so even if that muscle-building workout causes you to lose fat, you might still gain weight overall.
That isn’t to say both couldn’t be done to effective results, but we’re going to keep that concept in mind as we breakdown those two popular acronyms that can help you reach your weight loss goals.
What Are The Components Of A FITT Workout?
The idea of a FITT workout is to keep your body from getting complacent with the workouts you’ve been doing. As you might have noticed, the more you do the same workout, the easier it gets. Your body adapts, you get more efficient, and it’s harder to achieve the same results, and you start to hit a workout plateau.
FITT, which stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type, is a way of thinking about your workouts that will allow you to make regular, systematic changes to avoid that plateau. As you challenge your body to adapt, it’ll burn more calories. One rule of thumb to go by is to change one or two variables every month to month and a half.
Frequency - If you’re just starting out with exercise, see if you can be active for at least three days a week. When it comes time to up this variable, see if you can eventually get up to five days a week.
Intensity - There are a few ways to measure intensity when it comes to working out to lose weight. If you are doing an aerobic workout, like walking or cycling, a moderate level of intensity would take you from being able to carry a conversation to being slightly out of breath, while vigorous will take you to the point of having more trouble talking. With anaerobic exercise, like weight lifting and circuit training, you may measure the intensity either in the heaviness of the weights and/or the number of repetitions.
Time - Whereas frequency of workouts refers more to the makeup of your week, time refers to the time you allot each day. An important idea to keep in mind, especially as exercise times mount to 60 or even 90 minutes, is that exercise doesn’t have to be done all at once for you to get the positive effects. Even a few sessions of 10 minutes a day could benefit you.
- Type - This refers to what kind of exercise you’re doing. Variety isn’t just important to keep yourself interested and engaged, but it will also help to focus different parts of your body and different muscle groups so that you avoid that dreaded plateau. Another note: as tempting as it is to just switch back and forth between types of cardio, switching types also means going with both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise programs.
In considering the rule of thumb we suggested above for these FITT workouts, you might consider sticking with running three times a week for a half-hour for the first month.
Then, you could keep the frequency, time, and intensity, but switch the type of exercise (running for weight-lifting). By keeping your body guessing, you’ll continue to burn more calories. This is just an example to illustrate the difference between the variables, of course, and not medical advice - be sure to consult with a doctor before starting a new workout routine.
What Are The Components Of A HIIT Workout?
Now, a HIIT workout is another of the acronyms bandied about the weight loss world.
A bit simpler in theory (but sweater in execution!), HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. The benefit comes from the intensity: by spiking your heart rate, your body burns more calories than when you’re doing something of a moderate intensity for a longer period of time (like a casual run).
These are a few key points to keep in mind about how HIIT workouts really work.
You’re Going To Work - These workouts are faster. They burn more. But they’re harder. In your 20-second max efforts, you’re conditioning your body to use energy differently and getting excellent cardio conditioning. You should expect to be at a perceived 9 or 10 on your perceived exertion. And then you’ll get a sweet, sweet 40-second break right after.
You’ll Need To Warm Up - While the HIIT workout itself might be shorter than your jog, a warm-up is essential to make sure you not only get all the HIIT benefits - but that you don’t hurt yourself. While some people can ease themselves into their cardio by starting slow then getting faster along the route, warm-ups (like this one that Self explains) get your body ready for this level of intensity.
- Weight Loss Or Muscle Gain - This is where we think again about our primary goals for our exercise. HIIT can be adapted for both, as you can see in this explanation of 10 great HIIT workouts for weight loss and 7 for muscle growth. One relatively simple rule of thumb is that keeping your workouts weight-free will let you keep the intensity and the speed up.
We’ve discussed before how motivation is a big part of weight loss, so if you’re looking for another angle to keep you inspired as you move toward your health goals, consider aiming for the achievements in our IRLA Weight Loss Pack. They’re a great way to reward yourself for putting your body - and your future - first.
What about you? Are you already incorporating these kinds of workouts into your regular fitness routine?