HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a type of workout becoming more and more widespread through gym classes and exercise videos such as P90X and Insanity. This way of exercising yields great results because they combine high intensity movements with very little rest in between. As a result, you can fit in a fantastic fat-burning workout in a short amount of time.
HIIT workouts can be combined with dumbbell, kettlebell, or resistance band exercises, however most of the time they use movements that can be performed with the weight of your own body. Bodyweight exercises are fantastic to include with any workout routine. They provide the opportunity for you to perform a very effective workout just about anywhere, free from additional equipment.
But are bodyweight exercises really enough when you're trying to maximize weight loss and burn fat?
The answer is: yes and no. When starting a new exercise program, especially HIIT, it is good to ramp up to heavier weights rather than jump right into the big stuff in order to prevent injury. Using bodyweight alone is often more than enough when first getting started to create an effective workout.
After training with bodyweight exercises for a month or so, you will definitely notice your body beginning to change. You'll become stronger and begin to bounce back from those workouts more easily than before. However, weight loss doesn't come from exercise alone.
Combining your workouts with a diet including a wide variety of nutritious foods will ensure your body is functioning optimally. Controlling portion sizes will also not only help you reach your weight loss goals faster, but keep that weight off long-term.
So where does that "no" answer come in? Right around the time when you start feeling stronger. This is the time to start gradually adding weight to your workouts*.
Sure you can stick with just using bodyweight, but keep in mind that those workouts will no longer have the dramatic effect that they did when you first started. You can also increase the time you spend doing exercises (and longevity with training each muscle group) to build muscle mass.
As you get better at bodyweight or HIIT workouts, it is a good idea to either gradually increase weight or exercise duration as you get stronger to maximize your results. Building muscle helps your body to become more efficient at burning fat even when at rest. This means that when you begin gaining strength and muscle mass, you will lose weight more quickly when you combine exercise with a healthy balanced diet.
*With professional guidance. Ask for help from the person teaching your workout class, or talk to your gym about getting a free consultation with a personal trainer.
[Credit: Bornstein, Adam. Bodyweight Workouts for Fat Loss: Do They Work? Born Fitness.]