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Can Fat or Obese People Do HIIT Safely?
If you're fat, overweight or obese, should you do HIIT for weight loss? HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, and it has been proven by science, in one study after another, that HIIT is the best way to melt off fat.
There are several reasons why it's virtually unheard of for very overweight people to do HIIT. I'm a certified personal trainer, and quite frankly, it's not all that common to see thinner people doing HIIT, either. If you know what high intensity interval training is about, how many people do you ever see performing this type of exercise during your health club's most crowded times?
For obese or fat people who know about HIIT, many will feel that it's too difficult for them, and won't even consider trying it. Another obstacle is that the overweight individual (as well as thinner folks) might believe that HIIT pertains only to super fast running (sprinting). THIS IS NOT TRUE. High intensity interval training can be applied to ANY mode of movement, including swimming.
Fat or obese men and women may also fear that HIIT is not safe to perform. However, if an overweight person is concerned about the safety of intense exercise, they should get clearance from a cardiologist.
On "The Biggest Loser," the very overweight contestants engage in HIIT. Essentially, HIIT consists of very brief bursts of maximal effort, alternating with a minute to several minutes of easy pacing. Thus, high intensity interval training can be applied to strength training, not just cardio, as well as routines like jumping jacks, jumping, stair climbing, high-knee marching, hitting a heavy bag, etc.
Fat people can hit a heavy bag. They can jump rope, do jumping jacks, stair climb and walk up hills. I know what you're thinking: That a very heavy person wouldn't last long doing any of these routines. But that's the whole idea! The "work interval" in HIIT should last only about 30 seconds.
So if you're obese, go up and down that staircase till you're ready to drop, which may be within 30 seconds, then walk around slowly for several minutes. Then go at the stairs again. Alternate for 20 minutes like this.
If you're fat, get on the elliptical machine and pedal as hard as you can for 30 seconds; get really whipped; then pedal slowly at light tension for a few minutes. Alternate this way for 20 minutes. Do the same thing with a treadmill: Walk your fastest for 30-60 seconds, then walk very easily for a few minutes. Alternate for 20 minutes.
Work intervals can be done on a stationary bike (your fastest pedaling at various pedal tensions); and by walking briskly about a track holding dumbbells, then walking very slowly without the dumbbells. Use your imagination: HIIT means alternating rigorous but very brief routines with "rest intervals" or very easy segments, for a minimal duration of 20 minutes (excluding warm-up and warm-down). Go for 30 minutes if you're up to it.
Build up to strenuous intervals gradually. Ease into HIIT. Fat or obese people can start out with the stationary bike, fast walking, incline walking, or swimming. When using a treadmill, swing the arms naturally at your sides. Holding on is major cheating (here's why). Fat or obese men and women can reap the same benefits of HIIT that smaller people do: increased production of human growth hormone, which is a potent fat-burner.