”Virginia, what do you know about HIIT (high intensity interval training)? It is a popular way to workout, and offers many benefits compared to other forms of exercise. This week's article explains exactly what HIIT is, in addition to explaining the effects it has on our health. We hope this helps you make an informed decision on whether HIIT is right for you.
Reading time: 10 Minutes
- Find out what a HIIT workout is
- Understand why lots of people are sharing their success with this methodology
- HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. Typically these workouts do not last longer than 30 minutes.
- Five benefits of HIIT training include:
- Burns fat efficiently and even after the workout is finished.
- Boosts your metabolism.
- Time efficient.
- Improves cardiovascular heart health and oxygen consumption.
- Can be done anywhere, anytime. HIIT workouts do not require much equipment.
Why should you try HIIT, you might ask? First of all, what even is HIIT? High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been around for a few years and proved to be extremely popular for a number of reasons. HIIT workouts are preferred by people who can’t justify spending hours on end in the gym but would like to reap the benefits of exercising nevertheless.
Although an average HIIT exercise lasts under 30 minutes, research shown that following a HIIT workout routine can reduce fat mass significantly in people. HIIT workouts consist of short bursts of very high-intensity exercises – these bring the heart rate up to 90% of your max heart rate – followed by slightly longer ‘rest’ periods when your heart rate is brought down to 60-70%.
Talking about heart rates: probably the best way to keep track of your heart rate levels during HIIT workouts is to wear a fitness smartwatch, often just called a running watch, a wearable that often provides real-time heart rate tracking feature. By monitoring your heart rate (and other body metrics), you’ll get a better understanding of the impact of your workout sessions on your cardio-system. Not to mention, it is also super motivating to see how many calories you burned.
HIIT workouts are fast, but it doesn’t mean you should skip the warm-up. Although you don’t want to max out your heart rate warming up, you also don’t want to go into a high-intensity training cold turkey either. Do some lunges or a couple of minutes of jump ropes to get your heart – and muscles – ready for the workout.
After the workout, you’ll need to do two things: have some protein and stretch your muscles. The most convenient way to sort out the former is to have a protein shake, a mix of protein powder and water, or milk/milk substitute. You can also opt in to have a protein bar instead.
As for stretching, get a foam roller or another massage tool, they are fairly inexpensive but work great nevertheless.
Also, during and after your HIIT workouts, drink some water to replace the water that left your body through sweating. You can consider getting a reusable water bottle too because we don’t want to further pollute the environment with single-use plastics.
1. HIIT TORCHES FAT FOR LONGER
If you want to burn fat quicker and haven’t got the time to go for runs or spend ages on cross trainers, HIIT is the answer. This type of workout has proven to burn fat efficiently, even visceral fat, the one that surrounds organs and therefore can have a very serious negative effect on your long term health.
2. HIIT WILL BOOST YOUR METABOLISM
An improved rate of metabolism can help you in a lot of ways. Not only it is less likely for you to gain weight if your metabolism is working correctly, but a healthy metabolic system can rid toxins from your body more efficiently and also, as mentioned above, burn calories even after you finished with your HIIT session.
In some studies, HIIT has been shown to force your body to use energy from fat as opposed to carbs, helping losing fat even more efficiently. Basically, doing a HIIT workout kick starts your body’s metabolism to a level that the fat burning effects last hours after the session have finished.
In essence, you can torch fat for hours with just a few minutes of exercising a day, using HIIT.
3. HIIT IS TIME EFFICIENT
HIIT workouts are quick. Some, like the Tabata regimen, only last for 4-5 minutes at a time. Even the longer sessions tend to last no longer than half an hour, which makes HIIT the perfect workout for busy people.
For the same reason, HIIT workouts work well with other types of workouts. In some cases, people who did HIIT workout gained muscle mass, mainly on their legs. Combining resistance training with HIIT sessions can build muscle mass and burn fat quicker than just doing either.
4. HIIT CAN IMPROVE CARDIOVASCULAR HEART HEALTH AND OXYGEN CONSUMPTION
In case the above benefits were not enough to convince you, here is another no-brainer: HIIT can significantly improve your muscles’ oxygen consumption in a matter of weeks. Most usually, you would have to do long sessions of cycling or running at a moderate intensity to improve VO2 max levels over time, but with HIIT, you only have to do 20 sessions, four-five times a week to significantly increase muscle oxygen consumption in five to six weeks.
Also, especially obese and overweight people, doing HIIT workouts regularly can reduce blood pressure and heart rate, too. It has also been shown that a HIIT workout routine can reduce blood sugar levels as well.
Important: If you have issues with obesity, please consult a medical professional before you start your new HIIT regime. What works for most might not work for you personally and it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to health-related issues.
5. YOU CAN DO HIIT ANYWHERE, ANYTIME
Probably the best thing about HIIT is that it doesn’t require much – or any – equipment at all. Also, it can be adopted to many different disciplines: if you have a treadmill or an indoor exercise bike already, you can have a HIIT session in either of those.
But in general, doing burpees, jumping jacks or mountain climbers don’t require any equipment. You can do them in your living room, in a hotel room or on the street at any time.
More about the Expert:
Matt is T3’s very own fitness and nutrition writer. He is training hard for his first Ironman 70.3 which will be in September 2020. In his free time, he swims, runs, cycles, and tries various resistance training workouts so he can ramble about them to people who aren’t really interested in fitness.