In recent times, there has been a lot of speculation surrounding the benefits of HIIT, also known as high intensity interval training. To begin with, HIIT refers to continuous bouts of both low and high intensity exercise done for a set period of time. The entire training session usually lasts no more than 20 minutes.
Example of HIIT
An example of a HIIT workout would be to start off with a 3 to 4 minute warm-up. This warm-up would be followed by 30 seconds of running hard at the fastest pace you can attain and then 60 – 90 seconds of light jogging or walking for recovery. This is called the interval. The interval is repeated for an average of 6 – 10 times (depending on your level of fitness). The workout ends with a 3 to 4 minute cool-down.
Maximum Cardio Benefit in Minimal Time
Several studies have found that the benefits of HIIT are far reaching and long lasting when compared to other cardio workouts, including long distance sprinting. According to one study, 2.5 hours of rigorous HIIT training extends the same benefits that are found after 10.5 hours of long distance training.
Turn Your Body Into a Fat Burning Furnace
In a study done at the University of Guelph in Canada, participants were monitored over a 2 week period to determine the affect of high intensity interval training (HIIT) on the body’s ability to burn fat. The study found that this sort of training dramatically improved the fat and carbohydrate burning process within the body. Results were seen during and after exercising. This has a direct impact on your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is a measurement of how many calories your body burns while you are resting. In other words, HIIT significantly increases your metabolism. Compared to steady paced cardio, your body will burn more fat during a HIIT session and will continue burning at this high rate for up to 24 hours afterwards. So, in the hours following your workout, while you are watching your favorite reality television show, your body will still be in fat burning overdrive. This is one of my favorite benefits of HIIT.
Improve Your Endurance and Stamina
A HIIT (high intensity interval training) session also significantly improves your endurance and stamina. The maximum oxygen amount that one can take in during an exercise session or during sports is called the VO2 max. High intensity interval training (HIIT) has the ability to drastically increase an individual’s VO2 peak, which enables the person to perform all sorts of physical activities for a longer span of time. Someone who may struggle to run on a treadmill for more than 5 minutes will notice a huge improvement after engaging in HIIT for a few weeks. In a study published by the Journal of Applied Physiology, participants doubled their endurance after just 2 weeks of engaging in HIIT. When one of my nephews first tried running, he was convinced that he could last for at least 15 minutes. After 5 minutes, he was ready to collapse. After a few months of high intensity interval training, whereby he alternated sprinting and walking on the treadmill, he can now run for approx. 20 minutes straight. This is another one of the key benefits of HIIT.
No More Boring Steady Paced Cardio
Another one of the core benefits of HIIT is that it breaks the monotony of typical, steady-paced cardio workouts. Some of us struggle to workout on a regular basis. When we finally drag ourselves into the gym to squeeze in a workout, we read, listen to music, cover the timer with a towel, or find other creative ways to help those agonizing and boring 30 minutes pass. High intensity interval training sessions require you to spend much less time exercising. Additionally, there is an element of excitement that is introduced when you are going back and forth between running and walking or jumping jacks and squat thrusts, or whatever combination you choose. You are also constantly pushing and challenging yourself throughout the workout so that you make it through the various intervals. Before you know it, you are done. Upon finishing, you feel a strong sense of pride because you have just completed the kind of workout that some hardcore athletes perform. Your body will love you for this.
Whether you want to lose weight, maintain your existing weight, or improve your cardiovascular fitness, high intensity interval training will definitely get you closer to your goals. The benefits of HIIT are many and have long term desirable effects. Be sure to consult a physician before beginning any exercise program.
You can view more examples of HIIT sessions here.