Today I want to talk about the benefits of High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT for short. In my opinion, HIIT is a type of exercise that will give you the highest amount of health benefits in the shortest amount of time. It gives you the standard benefits of a cardio training plus the added benefits of resistance training.
First of all, what is HIIT?
HIIT is not a type of exercise but more of a way to perform the exercise. The key here is that you can execute various high intensity interval training techniques by doing different types of exercises as long as they satisfy the general rules. The main objective is to have a short period of high intensity followed by a longer period of rest.
How to perform a HIIT routine
There are 2 general rules you need to follow when choosing the type and length of the exercise:
The first one is that the exercise should include major muscle groups such as leg or back muscles and as much of your body as possible. Doing biceps curls, for example, does not fit this description as you only work your biceps, and biceps are a small muscle group. The exercise should include your legs as much as possible and if you can add some other body part, even better.
Sprints, for example, are the perfect exercise for HIIT. When you sprint for 100m or 200m, you work your legs and upper body as well. If you push yourself to the max, you will be completely out of breath and you won’t be able to do anything for at least 1 minute. Performing 6 to 10 sprints in a row with breaks in between is a perfect example of high intensity interval training. It is important to take breaks because otherwise you will hurt yourself, and your body actually reacts better when you take the break – it gives your muscle groups time to have a minor recovery before you begin again.
You can substitute sprints with sprint-like exercises performed on a bicycle, stationary bike or some type of elliptical machine. You could also do burpees, squats, rope skipping and any similar exercise that works multiple muscles in your body. Anything that gets your heart rate up is a good exercise for HIIT workouts.
Consider adding handweights or dumbells to your HIIT workout for an even more effective session.
The second part is the intensity. By high intensity, I mean doing something with such intensity that you can’t do it longer than 30-120 seconds. You can ride a bike for hours if you are pedalling slow but you should increase the speed and resistance until you can’t do it longer than the mentioned time frame. If you can do it for longer than you are probably not doing it intense enough.
Once you have your exercise and you do it with high intensity, the only thing remaining is that you repeat the cycle of high intensity (including a rest in between) at least 4 times. The more intervals you do, the better the exercise will be.
Recent studies have confirmed the benefits of short, intense workouts. One recent study from McMaster University found that a 10 minute workout that included one minute of maximum intensity split into three 20 second sprints followed by 2 minutes of low pace activity, was just as effective for overall health as a 45 minute moderate workout. “Additionally, shorter, more intense workouts will place less overuse strain on your joints, avoiding some of the long term injuries that can result from longer sessions over time,” says Vosburg.
Let’s dive deeper into the benefits of HIIT.
Top 5 benefits of High Intensity Interval Training
#1 Burn more calories in shorter amount of time
As this is a high intensity type of exercise, you will burn more calories in a shorter period of time compared to low intensity workouts. You can burn the same amount of calories in 20 minutes than you would in 30-35 minute aerobic type of exercise session.
#2 Increased fat burning rate after training
It has been proven that anaerobic exercises increase your metabolic rate for hours after you finished your workout. This means that you will be burning more fat after a HIIT workout even when you are resting. This means that HIIT gives you 2 benefits for burning fat, you burn more fat during the exercise and you also burn more fat for hours after the exercise.
You can find this study along with some other interesting details about this in the exercise research if you want.
#3 Anti-aging benefits
Studies have confirmed that HIIT increases the production of growth hormone which is a hormone that triggers cell regeneration and has many other health benefits. Don’t worry, you will not start growing suddenly, as this is determined by other factors.
#4 Healthier heart
As this type of exercise increases your heart rate for short periods of time it has many benefits in your general cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that prolonged increased heart rate can have some negative side effects but short periods of increased heart rate didn’t show the same negative side effects.
Especially for obese people, intense interval training workouts also provides the benefits of lowering high blood pressure.
#5 Increased testosterone levels
The same as this exercise increases the growth hormone production it also increases the Testosterone production. Testosterone is a anabolic hormone that increases your regeneration, energy levels and fat burning capability of your body. If you are a woman you might be asking yourself some of the next questions “Isn’t this a male hormone?”, “Will this make me grow a moustache?” and so on. You really don’t need to be worried as this causes a natural increase within normal ranges for your gender so you wont wake up as a harry hulk all of a sudden. If it would be that simple bodybuilders would need to take anabolic steroids.
As it is with everything else in life, a HIIT workout also comes with some pros and cons. You need to be aware that this type of exercise is not ideal for everyone. If you have any type of heart condition or some other medical issues then High Intensity Interval Training is not ideal for you.
As this is a high intensity exercise you really should be in good health if you don’t want to take any risks. I would strongly advise you to consult your doctor, even if you think you are in perfect health as he is the only one who can give you a professional opinion about you health.
And even once you get the green light from your doctor your should start slowly so your body can adjust and get used to this type of exercise.
Be sure to fuel up with a great BCAA after your workout to ensure maximum muscle growth results!
High Intensity Interval Training offers many great benefits. I hope you take it slow and make the most out of it. Remember we should exercise to improve our wellbeing and health so the goal should be to enjoy your workout and everything else will follow.
About the Author:
Hi my name is Ales and I am the owner and content writer on BlogGuru.Net. My passion is health, fitness and personal growth and as a result I like to share my findings about things I have discovered for myself. Everything I write about comes from personal experience. I believe that we can achieve so much more if we truly work on it.