HIIT training and the ‘fat burning zone’

OK, so let’s talk about this ‘fat burning zone’. We see it on treadmills, it’s talked about in the press, magazines, even when you get an induction into the gym it’s there. So I want to help clear a few questions up about this.

There are lots of training types, but I want to talk to you about LSSC and HITT. LSSC is just the short hand for ‘long steady state cardio’, you might also hear it being called LIIS or ‘Low intensity interval training’. HIIT just means High intensity interval training. LISS is where you workout at a steady low intensity pace, such as Yoga or light jogging, walking and so on. HIIT is where it’s quite intense and you workout for a period of time say 30 seconds, with a very very short rest period in between the sets of 30 seconds, so you’re working out for more time than you are resting.

Some of you might have done both, some just one, and some none! But I’m sure quite a few of you might have heard about HIIT as there does tend to be a great deal in the media pointing to HIIT training claiming that is ‘strips fat’. What I would like to explain to you is HOW this can work in your favour but also, why having a program that only includes HIIT isn’t going to help you ‘strip fat’, or feel energetic!

First, let’s talk about that fat burning zone. During a long steady state workout you are in fact working into a fat burning zone, or let’s change that to call it your metabolic rate, so the rate that your body burn calories. During your LISS session, what happen is you raise your metabolic rate during the session, and for a little time post workout. Great. Now, with HIIT training, which is often an overall shorter session than a LISS session, but often more intense and feels a great deal harder, what happens to your metabolic rate is it elevates during your session just like LISS, but the difference is that it is elevated for a lot longer post workout than it is with LISS.

If you are looking to work towards a goal of fat loss and weight loss, adding one or two HIIT training sessions into your weekly routine, will allow you to elevate your metabolic rate to a higher, longer level post workout and work a few short but more intense workout into your week. HIIT training because of this has been seen a great deal in the media as your go to workout. However, as I mentioned at the beginning, for long term consistency and to get fat loss and weight loss results, you do need to mix your training method up a little and not just concentrate on HIIT training. And here’s why…

HIIT training has its benefits and but does long steady state cardio or low interval steady state workouts.

When  you are working towards weight loss, fat loss and better energy, we need to make sure our body is in a more balanced state to be able to achieve this.

There are two systems that is it beneficial for you to become aware of…the first one is your sympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as your fight or flight mode, and the other one is your parasympathetic nervous system, which is your rest and relaxation mode. When I talk about balance, I mean balance between these too systems, they are you key to getting what it is that you want, which for most of you is weight loss, fat loss, better energy or even being and feeling less bloated.

The more we ride into our fight and flight mode, the more our body lives on an elevated level of cortisol (this is your stress hormone). When you are living more so into your fight or flight system your stress hormone levels get elevated more, and your digestive tract switches down it’s effectivity. Excess cortisol levels can appear as body fat around the tummy area, and without optimal digestive systems, we can get bloated among a few other things that can happen when our digestive system isn’t working well. Things that elevate our fight or flight system are going to work, exercising HIIT, heavy weight training, watching TV or doing screen work, travelling, the list goes on.

In order for you to achieve results such as fat loss, weight loss, better fitness, more energy, less bloated-ness, it is a big helper for your body to live less into its fight and flight mode and have a little more balance between this and your rest and relaxation system. Our rest and relaxation system actually switches on our digestive system and lowers our cortisol levels. The complete opposite of what our fight or flight system does. LISS training or forms of exercise such as walking, Yoga (not power yoga – yoga like yin or hatha) which do not push you too much can help work into this rest and relaxation system more so, but still allowing you to workout. For some people slow running can also be a form of LISS as it doesn’t cause too much energy for them, that’s not me though, running is like dragging along an elephant behind me so for me LISS is core work or Yoga.

So, in order for our digestive tract to be as optional as possible, and to manage how much cortisol hormone is being produced, we want to work into our week with one to two high intensity workouts and one or two lower intensity workouts. This will give you the opportunity to gain all the benefits of working out without creating an unbalanced body.

The more balanced we can make our bodies, the more energy we will have, the more we will be able to achieve fat loss, and get fitter. I know the mindset often is if it’s not heavy and hard it’s not working, but when you think this, or you think you should be going out running, or doing more HIIT training, think back to these reasons.


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