High intensity interval training (HIIT) refers to aerobic workouts that alternate between high and medium-intensity exercise alternating with periods of low-intensity recovery. Oftentimes, HIIT includes a mix of all three intensity levels. Short bursts of high-intensity activity have been proven to increase athletic performance, aerobic capacity and increase overall health. If you are thinking about experimenting with HIIT for your next workout regimen, here’s a brief summary of the most common benefits of high intensity interval training.
1. Burn More Fat- Not only do you burn more calories by using HIIT, the high exertion of energy spent using high-intensity interval training puts your body repair cycle in overdrive. This means your body will continue to burn calories for 24 hours after your workout. By using HIIT in your exercise schedule, you will continue to burn calories throughout the week.
2. Save Time- According to a 2011 study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, two weeks of HIIT improves your aerobic capacity as much as six to eight weeks of endurance training. Research has shown that 15 minutes of high interval training can aid in athletic progress more so than one hour of medium intensity workouts. This means that HIIT is perfect for individuals that have time restraint issues.
3. Healthy Heart- HIIT has been proven to help the blood vessels and arteries of the heart. Although it may sound counter-intuitive that an exercise method so intense would be healthy, instead of dangerous, for the heart, but according to doctors at McMaster University, during a trial of cardiac patients using HIIT, the doctors found that the heart is actually insulated from over-exertion because of the brief time of the intensity, but with the benefits of exerting the heart.
4. No Equipment- Although jumping rope, bicycling and rowing are good HIIT exercises, equipment is not a necessity; you can use running, jumping and plyometrics for your high- intensity interval training. Using weights is usually not suggested, because the goal of HIIT is to increase heart rate and aerobic capacity.
5. Do It Anywhere- Just as equipment is not necessary for high intensity interval training, location is not much of an issue either. With the right imagination, you can adjust to your location to perform a variety of exercises. Although you may prefer a gym or an area you like working out, it is not, by any means, necessary.
6. Retain Muscle- Although steady state cardio can bring about both weight loss and muscle loss, HIIT coupled with occasional weight training can encourage weight loss while retaining muscle mass. The increased endurance and aerobic capacity in HIIT promotes muscle growth and enhanced weight training performance.
7. Challenging- High-intensity interval training is perfect for seasoned exercisers that may have become bored with their exercise regiments. It's also ideal if you have met a plateau and are trying to break through to a new level of health. More so than other methods, high-intensity interval training is also challenging enough to see fast results.
8. Increase Metabolism - In addition to the fat burning and muscle retention that HIIT can offer, it also heightens levels of the human growth hormone (HGH) in the body considerably for the 24 hours after a workout. HGH plays a significant role in the caloric burning process, meaning your metabolism is greatly increased for that period of time.
High-intensity interval training regimens are often extremely challenging, but the numerous benefits you can realize using this exercise method makes it well worth the effort. For many, the challenges and rewards of HIIT represent a new and exciting way to improve your health considerably.
Are you up for the challenge?
Have you incorporated high-intensity interval training into your workout regimen? If so, tell us about your experience, the good, the bad, and the ugly!