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Fat Burning Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Fat Burning Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)


Author: Kate Headrick, Master Trainer’s Academy CPT Student

The United States has seen a dramatic rise in obesity over the past few decades and research has shown obesity’s alarming effects on the body. Exercise is a top recommendation, but with the demands of our busy lives, finding time to exercise can be difficult. High intensity interval training (HIIT) has emerged as a time saving strategy to reduce body fat and improve cardiovascular function, while reducing the time required for exercise. HIIT protocols involve short bursts of maximal effort, followed by longer periods of recovery, which is repeated for a prescribed number of repetitions. HIIT is an effective method for fat reduction and a valid strategy for reducing metabolic risk factors in overweight and obese populations.

HIIT training requires very little time and for that reason is becoming more popular. According to Zang, Tong, Qui, Nie, and He (2017), HIIT cardio of just 28 minutes 3 times per week was just as effective in burning abdominal fat as 60 minutes of moderate intensity steady state of the same frequency (p 3). Previous protocols have always linked volume and fat reduction increasing together in a linear fashion, relying on short periods of maximal effort followed by longer active recovery periods; and it is in these recovery periods that HIIT’s fat burning potential shines. The sheer intensity of HIIT extends our body’s excess post exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC (Trapp, Chisholm, & Boutcher, 2007). EPOC is the state in which the body’s metabolism is elevated after exercise (Clark, Lucett, McGill, Montel & Sutton, 2018)  Alahmadi (2014) found that the larger EPOC response from HIIT may have a role in elevating post-exercise fat oxidation due to increasing levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine generated during acute HIIT. It is during this extended EPOC period that fat is used as the primary energy source; and fat expenditure is correlated to the intensity of the previous exercise, making HIIT a front runner as opposed to low or moderate intensity exercise. It was also found that the elevated catecholamine levels increased overall fat oxidation during and after HIIT (Alahmadi, 2014).

HIIT is also effective for fat oxidation during exercise. A recent study performed at the College of Sports Sciences and Physical Science examined this link in obese and overweight men over a four week period. They found HIIT training improved fat oxidation by 31% in just 3 sessions per week for 4 weeks. The exact mechanism behind the fat oxidation was beyond the scope of this study, but their findings suggested that HIIT boosting the skeletal muscle’s capability to oxidize lipids, which could have an enormous impact in obese populations (Alahmadi, 2014). By improving the body’s ability to use skeletal muscle to oxidize fat we are potentially able to increase their ability to burn fat at rest and during other activities throughout the day. As trainers, this could be an incredible advantage in our tool box to help our clients achieve good health and reduce their risk of disease. Based on the information available and the data from numerous studies HIIT has proven to be a safe and effective method to burn fat. Additionally, because of the intensity of the exercise, it also improves skeletal muscles ability to metabolically adapt and extend the body’s fat burning window beyond the length of the exercise itself.  By utilizing HIIT protocols with our clients we can maximize their results and improve their quality of life.



  1. Zang, H., Tong, T.K., Qui, W., Nie, J., and He, Y. (2015). Effect of high intensity interval training protocol on abdominal fat reduction in overweight chinese women: randomized controlled trial. Kinesiology.
  2. Trapp, E. G., Chisholm, D. J., and  Boutcher, S.H. (2007). Metabolic response of trained and untrained women during high- intensity intermittent cycle exercise. Am J PhysiolRegulIntergr Comp Physiol, 293, R2370-2375.
  3. Alahmmadi, M.A. (2014) High-intensity Interval Training and Obesity. J Nov Physiother      4(2111). Doi: 10.4172/2165-7025.1000211
  4. Clark, M. A, Lucett, S. C., McGill, E., Montel, I., and Sutton, B. (Eds.) (2018). NASM essentials of personal fitness training (6th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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5 Ways To Achieve A Safer Yoga Practice

5 Ways To Achieve A Safer Yoga Practice


Author: Dean Woehrle, NASM-CPT

Practicing yoga provides many health benefits not limited to flexibility, stress relief and enhanced fitness. However, like any physical activity, there are risks involved if not practiced safely. With yoga increasing in popularity within the United States, it is more important than ever to practice yoga safely. The number of yoga injuries treated in emergency rooms or doctors’ offices rose to 5,500 in 2007 according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. According to a 2016 “Yoga in America” studies, conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance: It is estimated that the number of American yoga practitioners has increased to over 36 million in 2016, up from 20.4 million in 2012. With the dramatic increase in the number yoga practitioners, injuries are on the rise as well.


Here are 5 ways to achieve a safer yoga practice:

1.) WARM UP:

Make sure you warm up before you jump into a yoga class. Yoga poses can be challenging for your body. If your body is unprepared, it may be too quick of a challenge for your tissues. Your body needs to be gently mobilized to lubricate the joints and warm the muscles to avoid injury. For example if you perform a deep forward fold before warming the hamstrings and mobilizing the spine you could cause an injury to the hamstring, the lower back and/or spine.


You wouldn’t find yourself taking an advanced martial arts class or an advanced group class on your first attempt, so why would yoga be any different? While yoga may look simple, it can be more complicated than would seem at first glance. Look for a beginner class and allow yourself to learn the basics of yoga and your body’s limitations to build a solid foundation and knowledge of alignment, before you try a more challenging class.


If you ease into a pose and it doesn’t feel right, stop! There is no advantage to pushing yourself through pain. Ask your instructor how the pose can be modified to increase comfort and/or reduce risk of injury. Your instructor should be able to walk you through the pose, describe the correct feeling, and make any corrections necessary to ensure you have proper form. This will help to avoid any discomfort you may feel.


Avoid forcing yourself into a pose to match your neighbor. Everyone has their own muscular imbalances and individual joint ranges of motion. While it is good to challenge your physical limits, respect those limits and do not over challenge them. If you stick with your practice, your flexibility, stability, and strength will increase with time.


The way you breathe affects your movements, posture, coordination and changes within the muscles. Holding your breath will lead to more tension in the body, which in turn will deny you the ability to deepen your stretch and achieve relaxation. Not only does your breath relieve tension in the body, deep breathing through the diaphragm, such as in yoga, can provide the same cardiovascular benefits as other moderate exercise.

In conclusion take what the body will give you and know your body’s limits. Your stretch is your stretch. Remember yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self. Maintain a safe practice and remember to have fun!

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Staying Motivated!

Staying Motivated!

Author: Achieve Wellness Staff

Do you have a desire to lose weight? Improve your figure? Keep heart disease, cancer or diabetes at bay? Lower your blood pressure or cholesterol? Protect your bones? Or are you just trying to live to a healthy old age?

This might sound like an uninspired script for an infomercial, but of course you know these are all reasons people turn to exercise. And while these are all great reasons to exercise, recent research has shown that if you’re looking for the best motivation for exercising, it’s none of the above!

It turns out your biggest motivator is: exercise makes you feel great! Yep, it’s as simple as that: you should exercise because it feels good—now. The health benefits that you will eventually reap on top of that are just the icing on the cake.

A recent study at the University of Wales found that while many people begin to exercise as way to lose weight and improve their appearance, these motivations did not keep them exercising in the long term. For that reason, the suggestion is that experts take a different approach when talking to the public about exercise. “The well-being and enjoyment benefits of exercise should be emphasized,” the researchers concluded.

Dr. Michelle Segar, a research investigator at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan, recommends that we need to change the way exercise is marketed. “Physical activity is an elixir of life, but we’re not teaching people that. We’re telling them it’s a pill to take or a punishment for bad numbers on the scale. Sustaining physical activity is a motivational and emotional issue, not a medical one.”

If you’re already an “exerciser”, you know this too well. If you’re not already an “exerciser”, maybe the simple promise of feeling great—immediately—is enough to get you started—immediately!

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