How to Avoid Weight Gain with HIIT

The human body is at its peak, physiologically speaking, between the ages of about 18-29 years old. Changes occur thereafter, such as a loss in strength and aerobic capacity coupled with changes in bodyweight and body composition. There is a significant, yet preventable, downward shift with each of these variables after the third decade of life. How to avoid weight gain becomes a central focus for the majority of our population following the third decade.

5 Ways to Avoid Weight Gain: Focus on Lifestyle Changes

The following suggestions need to be implemented on a weekly basis in order to change the way you look and feel. It’s not some type of quick fix!

  • Never Stop Strength Training! This one is a must for everyone of us, especially as we age. The key is building a strong base during the early years (teenage through 20’s) and then maintain that strength with a few weekly strength training sessions. Yes, for the rest of your life. Look at all the older people you know who don’t exercise and lead an un-active lifestyle. How are they doing with that?
  • Increase Activity. I’m not talking about long, slow, aerobic exercise here. The goal is to turn off and put down all screens each day. Then, work a little harder and find creative ways to increase your activity level each day. A good definition of physical activity is “all activities, at any intensity, performed during any time of day or night. It includes exercise and incidental activity integrated into daily activity.” Personally, it’s about making sure I’m active enough throughout the day to walk 5-7 miles a day (about 10-14,000/steps) on top of exercise. Recent research has shown people under age 60 require about 7-10,000 daily steps. Individuals over age 60 require about 6-8,000 steps a day in order to lower risk of disease.
  • HIIT it Hard. HIIT refers to high-intensity interval training. It can have a positive effect on fat-loss, prevent weight gain, help with diabetes, and improve VO2 max. There is a great deal of research on the benefits on cardiometabolic health (blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol level). Try a minimum of 1-2 HIIT sessions a week with multiple days of rest in between bouts to take advantage of the health benefits. This could be the key to how you avoid weight gain.
  • Watch What Goes into Your Mouth. It can all come down to being that simple. Start to think of food as fuel for your body. Don’t eat it unless it’s high octane fuel that can help your body. We all know fad diets don’t work, long-term. Eating real, unprocessed food, similar to the Mediterranean Diet, is a good goal.
  • Reduce Added Sugar. We know it’s in everything. So a little is not a big deal. But try to eat less than 38 grams of added sugar/day for men and 25 grams of added sugar/day for women. Making this one change can add years to your life, not to mention, keep unwanted weight off, especially around the abdominal (men) and hip (women) areas.

How HIIT Improves Overall Health

One of the leading researchers on the benefits of HIIT is Martin Gibala, PhD from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. One of his many research studies (2014) looked at the effects of short-term interval training using a 10-minute protocol with only 1-minute of hard exercise. The results were various health improvements in overweight adults. In summary, the study showed 3-minutes of all out exercise performed within a 30-minute routine (includes warm-up & cool-down), 3x/week, improved cardiometabolic health. This study included 18 supervised training sessions over a 6-week period. As a result, improvements in the oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle, blood pressure and VO2 max were some of the outcomes.

How HIIT Improves Body Composition

A second study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2019), compared the effects moderate-intensity (MOD) exercise with HIIT. The research groups looked at 786 studies before choosing 36 that met their meta-analysis study criteria. Interval training and MOD both reduce body fat percentage. Interval training, however, provided a 28.5 percent greater reduction in total absolute fat mass compared to MOD. Other research has shown that HIIT is superior to MOD in many other areas. HIIT promotes greater increases in VO2max, ventricular function, improvements in insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, lower ratings of perceived exertion, higher levels of enjoyment and higher adherence than MOD.

Jefit Compliments HIIT

Adding weekly HIIT sessions with Jefit strength training is suggested if weight-loss and other cardiometabolic health benefits are a goal. Many of the Jefit home circuit-based training programs pair nicely with HIIT sessions. The first is Advanced Bodyweight Circuit and a second option is called Total Body Circuit. Enjoy and Stay Strong!

Suggested Reading

The One-Minute Workout, Martin Gibala, PhD, 2017.

Stay Strong Together with Jefit

Jefit, named best strength app by Men’s Health, Greatest, Forbes Health, Men’s Journal and many others, has a community responsible for 92,000,000 workouts to date! The app, which recently passed 10 million downloads, comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio coaching cues, and can share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. #staystrongtogether

Michael Wood, CSCS