Whether you’re 20lbs overweight or 5lbs overweight, a HIIT workout routine can help you burn belly fat fast. In my opinion, it’s the best cardio for weight loss. While you can achieve your weight loss goal by combining diet, strength training, and even steady state cardio, HIIT can take your fat burning to the next level.

What is HIIT?

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. The basic premise behind HIIT is that you work really hard for a short burst and then have an active recovery period. Generally speaking, you may sprint for 30 seconds and then jog or walk for 1 minute. You would repeat this workout routine numerous times for the best effect.

The Benefits of HIIT

A HIIT workout offers myriad benefits. First, HIIT provides a great workout for your legs. If you perform HIIT a few times per week, you probably don’t even need to do strength training for your legs, unless you have a desire for bigger legs. More importantly, HIIT really ramps up fat burning. The intense intervals allow for the release of fatty acids into the bloodstream. Additionally, HIIT results in increased HGH levels. HGH is a hormone that burns fat while preserving muscle. Finally, and possibly most importantly, HIIT results in EPOC, an after-burn effect which causes you to burn calories for hours after your workout is completed.

The Drawbacks of HIIT

HIIT is not perfect in every way. The main drawback is that you can’t perform this routine every day. Overtraining is a serious problem, especially if you perform strength training for your legs as well. If your muscles are tired, you are probably better served doing a slow paced steady state cardio routine on that particular day.

Sprint Interval Length

There are a few components of HIIT that you can vary. The first is the length of the sprint intervals. Shorter intervals of 15-30 seconds allow you to exert more effort during the sprints. This increased level of effort will result in a stronger release of HGH. Additionally, these shorter intervals will release more fatty acids into the bloodstream.

Longer intervals of greater than 30 seconds require more perceived effort. These result in a greater number of calories burned. Additionally, these longer intervals deplete glycogen levels (carbs) allowing your body to burn more fat after the completion of a workout.

Recovery Length

The recovery length also impacts the effects of HIIT. This is the walking or jogging portion of the workout that allows your muscles time to recover. The length of recovery is relative to the sprint interval. If you sprint for 30 seconds and recovery for 30 seconds, the ratio is 1:1. If you sprint for 15 seconds and recover for 45 seconds, the ratio is 3:1.

The longer the recovery in relation to the sprint interval (2 or 3:1), the more effort you can exert in the next interval. This increased effort will again result in a stronger HGH release. Additionally, longer recovery reduces the risk of overtraining.

A short recovery relative to the sprint interval (1:1) results in lactic acid buildup, glycogen depletion, and a greater after-burn effect (EPOC). However, this can lead to a greater risk of overtraining.

The Best Cardio For Weight Loss

In my opinion, the best cardio for weight loss combines these HIIT workout routines resulting in a strong HGH release, release of fatty acids, glycogen depletion, and calorie burning. The first part of the workout is short interval HIIT with a long recovery ratio. For these intervals, you sprint 15 seconds and recover (jog) for 45 seconds. This releases fatty acids and increases HGH levels. I prefer to warm up for 2 minutes and then perform 8 sets of this type of HIIT for a total workout of 10 minutes.

For the second phase, I perform 25 minutes of steady state cardio (light paced jog or exercise bike). This provides an active recovery for your muscles. Additionally, steady state cardio helps burn the fatty acids that short interval HIIT released into the bloodstream.

The final phase is performing long interval HIIT with short recovery periods. This will fully deplete your body of glycogen allowing for a greater after-burn effect and fat burning once your workout is complete. I perform 1 minute sprint intervals with 1 minute of jogging. The sprint intervals for this portion are not as intense as the first phase, by necessity as your muscles will be slightly tired. It’s best to keep this final phase to around 10 minutes as well.

So there you have a 45 minute HIIT workout that I believe is the best cardio for weight loss. This routine should allow you to burn belly fat fast no matter how close or far you are from your ideal weight.