Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
by Kathleen Parker
How many of us convince ourselves that we would love to work out regularly, if only we had more time? Enter HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (or HIIT).
HIIT training involves repeated bouts of all-out high intensity effort followed by varied recovery times. The intense work periods may range from 10 seconds to 8 minutes long, and are performed at 85 to 95% of a person’s estimated maximal heart rate, the maximum number of times your heart will beat in a minute. “Using HIIT you’re going to burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time,” says Tom Holland, Exercise Physiologist. “Mixing CARDIO AND STRENGTH TRAINING at a high intensity gives you the ULTIMATE FULL-BODY WORKOUT”.
HIIT training can easily be modified for people of all fitness levels and special conditions. HIIT workouts can be performed on all exercise modes, including cycling, swimming, running, and of course our group exercise classes! Of course, my personal favorite HIIT workout is hill sprints and burpees.-a total body workout in 20 minutes!
Benefits of HIIT Training:
INCREASED METABOLISM: HIIT can give you a day-long metabolism boost. This is due to the fact that we consume more oxygen during intense activity than in slower, steady state exercise. This in itself can increase post-exercise metabolism, and means that we continue to burn calories long after exercising.
BURN MORE FAT: We burn both fat and carbohydrates when we exercise, but the proportion varies according to the INTENSITY of the exercise. Many studies have proven that shorter high-intensity workouts result in greater fat loss than steady-state cardio sessions. This means you get a whole lot more bang for your buck when you sweat it out in a HIIT session, rather than spending TWICE as much time jogging.
YOU LOSE WEIGHT, NOT MUSCLE: While steady state cardio seems to encourage muscle loss, studies show that both weight training and HIIT workouts allow dieters to preserve their hard-earned muscles while ensuring most of the weight loss comes from fat stores—a win/win!!
YOU BUILD A HEALTHIER HEART: Most people are not used to pushing into the anaerobic zone (that lovely place where you cannot breathe and you feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest). But in this case, extreme training produces extreme results! One 2006 study found that after only 8 weeks of doing HIIT workouts, subjects could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, and maintain the same pace!!!
NO EQUIPMENT NEEDED: One of the real advantages of HIIT is that you can work out without the need of weights or cardio equipment. When I am on vacation I always slip in a 30 minute HIIT workout whenever I can. Beach sprints are an amazing HIIT vacation workout! Anything PLYOMETRIC (exercises based around having muscles exert maximum force in short intervals) will get the job done—accelerating your heart rate and increasing your speed and power. This can include squat jumps, burpees, or jump lunges.
IT IS QUICK: HIIT is an extremely efficient way of squeezing in a great workout into a short space of time. The fact that maximum results can even be achieved from a session that lasts less than 30 minutes means that HIIT is the ideal type of workout if you are on a tight schedule. Due to the extreme level of intensity of HIIT, you can get all the benefits of a rigorous gym session in a mere fraction of the time!
Examples of HIIT workouts we do in our iGnite classes consist of hill sprint repeats,
Tabatas, explosive medicine ball and sand bell circuits, Plyometric circuits, and stair repeats. There are endless possibilities!
One final message — due to the high intensity of HIIT training, it should only be done 3 times a week. All fitness levels can benefit from this type of training!
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