Have you ever attempted to overcome one of those makeshift walls in an obstacle course race—ramming your body into it, growing ever more frustrated with every failed attempt? Losing weight can be a lot like that. Metaphor aside, there are ways to make dieting easier and even ways to make your weight loss resolutions work. But new research from McMaster University has one tip to make getting in shape stick, once and for all, come the New Year: try HIIT.
In the study, 40 healthy but out-of-shape men and women (who worked out vigorously for no more than one hour per week) were assigned to take up a moderate-intensity training program or a high-intensity interval regimen three times a week for six weeks.
Those in the HIIT group plowed through 10 bouts of one-minute intervals (in which they got their heart rates up to about 90-95% of their peak), followed by a one-minute recovery interval at 30% of their peak for a total of 20 minutes. The moderate-intensity group did a continuous bout of exercise that got their heart rate up to 70-75% of their peak for nearly 30 minutes, in order to mirror the amount of calories burned during HIIT.
Workload, heart rate, and self-reported perceived exertion were recorded throughout each exercise session—every minute for HIIT and every other minute for MCT. And, as participants grew stronger and more fit, researchers adjusted the workload so the men and women always hit the target heart rate.
At the beginning of the workout plans, men and women from both groups reported comparable levels of enjoyment. But, as the training progressed folks who did the intense, short-burst HIIT protocol began to enjoy their workouts more and more, while levels for the moderate group remained constant (and lower).
"For sedentary individuals, a key barrier to starting an exercise program is the preconceived notion that exercising is not enjoyable," lead study author Jennifer Heisz said in a press release. "Failing to find enjoyment from exercise can make it more difficult to stick to an exercise program over time," she adds. Conversely: "Enjoyment during these first weeks of adopting a new exercise program may be especially important for preventing dropouts."
So, if you're searching for a better way to drop lbs than slogging away on the treadmill or the elliptical, give HIIT a go. You'll see better results in half the time and no doubt enjoy yourself a hell of a lot more.