Why HIIT May Not Be The Best Workout To Lose Weight

For you at least.

HIIT, lose weight, weight loss workouts, Nike Women, Nike Training
Image: @nikewomen

Fifteen minutes of brutal punishment or an hour of hard slog? It’s the dilemma we all face when choosing how to break a sweat. For most of us, a brisk walk on the beach is preferable to a HIIT circuit and yet, we go for the latter because we’re told it’s more effective. I mean, you only have to endure hell for fifteen minutes to reap hours of fat burning rewards … right?

Advertisement

Well, what if HIIT wasn’t always the best option (cue rejoice). Jordan Ponder, founder of Transform Health and Transform Kitchen, who’s trained the likes of Jessica Gomes, Nicole Trunfio and Samantha Harris, says “The best workout for weight loss is not the same as the best way for you to work out to lose weight.” Confused? Hear him out.

“The best workouts for weight loss revolve around causing the most physiological change in the body. Progressive overloading, causing periodic stress to the body, builds lean muscle mass, which consumes more energy. Cells use energy (carbs and fat) as well as amino acids (protein) to repair themselves. The more intense the workout, the more damage done, the more energy burnt. The more energy burnt, the more fat likely to be used over a prolonged period. Simple! High intensity, interval based training is best for weight loss.”

That being said, Jordan says it’s not that simple. The problem with this concept is that it’s based on the health-touting professionals who are already fit and healthy as opposed to the majority of the population who are 30% obese and 60% overweight. This group, who have weight to lose, are likely to be relatively inactive, unfit, have various muscle asymmetries and weaknesses, all of which need to be considered. “HIIT will pose a number of barriers to those needing a lifestyle change and wanting to shift weight long term.”

First and foremost, if you are new to HIIT, chances are you will experience sore muscles and excessive tiredness post exercise. Not only will this require prolonged recovery time, it also tends to discourage those trying to fit exercise into their busy lives.

“Niggling injuries when we’re young are common from a lifestyle of activity. As age increases, so too does time in the chair … niggling injuries grow into chronic pain, muscle weakness and asymmetry. Our ability to perform intense workouts becomes limited … a change of routine specific to our needs is required for long-term health.

No one workout will help you lose weight long term, you don’t put on five kilograms from one meal and you don’t lose five kgs from one workout. You need consistency for results. The best workout for weightloss is a workout, not sitting on the sideline due to injury one out of every four weeks.”

So what is the most effective way to exercise to lose weight?


“If you have time for recovery, are self-motivated, are able to balance your lifestyle-related stresses and know your body and what it needs, high intensity interval based workouts are best to shed a few extra kilograms. If however, your lifestyle, body and priorities present barriers to maximising output during your sessions, you need to find out what your body needs, balance these needs with social, enjoyable exercise, as well as your schedule and ensure you are being held accountable to a progressive program.

We need to be moving an hour a day to get change. 7 hours a week is only 4.1% of your time. Your perfect week of exercise shouldn’t feel like 7-10 hours in a gym that will leave you craving time at the pub with mates. It should empower you through representing the person you want to become.”

So, if you struggle to incorporate exercise into your daily routine or go to bed dreading your AM HIIT session, maybe it’s not right for you. Don’t push yourself through an intense workout on a Friday when you’ve slept five hours the night before as it’ll only send you seeking food and alcohol in response. Not sure what workout works for you? Experiment. Grab a friend and try strength training, barre or give one of these at-home dance classes a go. No one doesn’t like breaking it down to Beyonce.