HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training): The “No Time to Exercise” Excuse Buster
High-intensity interval training is a great way to quickly fit in a day’s workout. HIIT is defined as alternations between time periods of less intense activity, and shorter duration, 100% effort, intense bursts of activity. This switch-up makes your body work harder and burn more calories faster than at a constant, mediocre pace. These maximum capacity intervals provide many health benefits. Just take a look at fit, healthy kids. They’re exerting themselves then recovering, unknowingly doing a variation of HIIT as they play!
Benefits of HIIT training stretch far and wide, including:
Efficiency. YES, you can benefit your body in 20 minutes rather than 45 minutes to an hour! Research shows 15-20 minutes of HIIT can help you better achieve your weight and fitness goals than an hour on the treadmill or elliptical. According to a study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, “Just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training.”
Increased fat burned. The body better oxidizes fats. Hyper-exertion stimulates hyper-repair. For this reason, you can burn more fat and calories in the whole day after a HIIT session than you could after a steady-paced cardio session.
HIIT for a healthier heart! During full-capacity bursts, your heart is pumping at full capacity, forcing your cardiovascular system to its limits while strengthening it in the process.
There is no exercise equipment necessary. This means you can bring HIIT with you anywhere you go! Exercises like high knees, fast feet, plyometrics and jumping lunges all raise heart rate and simultaneously give you that hard-working muscle burn.
You will burn more fat, NOT lose muscle. HIIT allows you to preserve muscle mass while burning fat.
Increased metabolism. HIIT stimulates human growth hormone “by up to 450% during the 24 hours after you finish your workout,” which is responsible for increased calories burned and a slowed aging process.
Stay challenged, not bored. HIIT requires 100% effort and engagement. The workout is short but you will be working the whole time.
Enhanced endurance follows an improved ability to intake and transport oxygen.
However, because HIIT requires bursts of 100% effort, HIIT is not the optimal exercise for everyone. If done too often, or in combination with other high-intensity exercises, HIIT may lead to over-training or injury. Low to moderate physical activity is recommended for everyone, however, some wish to challenge themselves with HIIT. Those who are eager to incorporate HIIT should be sure to properly fuel and recover, and ensure they are not over-training, putting their bodies in danger of injury.
Here are a few good ways you can engage in a HIIT work out:
- Running full-speed on a treadmill for a minute, followed by two minutes of walking. This three-minute circuit can be repeated five times to total a 15-minute, fat-burning cardio work out.
- Complete a 10-minute warm up, walking or jogging at a slow pace to stimulate blood flow to muscles. Follow this low-intensity with a minute or two of barely-sustainable intensity. Follow this burst with 1 to 2 minutes of brisk walking or light jogging, making the recovery time equal to the maximum intensity segment. This 1 to 2 minute alternation can be repeated for 20 or more minutes.
- Shoot for HIIT workouts two to three times a week, not on consecutive days, as your muscles need 48 hours opportunity for repair, rest and growth.
Spending hours at the gym or on a boring cardio machine is simply not necessary. Always be sure to listen to your body’s signals however, as high intensity interval training can be grueling and should push you to your limits, but not past them. Lastly, check with your doctor first before starting any new fitness program to see if HIIT is right for you.
Is HIIT part of your regular workout routine? If not, are you going to start? I’d love to know, comment and share!