In recent years - pretty much since the birth of Instagram - personal trainers the world over have been introducing HIIT workouts to the world. HIIT stands for ‘high intensity interval training’, and it refers to a very specific type of training. There is a lot of misinformation out there about HIIT and it can lead people to believe that they will be ripped and shredded without putting in the work. The thing is, HIIT is probably one of the most effective ways that you can work every muscle group in your body to get the body composition and results that you want.
What Is HIIT?
Intensity is the most important thing about a HIIT workout, and you have to be prepared to push your body and work hard. HIIT is a cardio session which is arranged in short, sharp bursts of exercise. The whole idea is to work as hard as possible for 30 seconds to a minute at a time.
To truly call your workout a HIIT session you need to push yourself to your limit with every set, which is why each set lasts only 30 seconds on average. It’s the longest 30 seconds you’ll ever feel when you’re doing burpees or jump squats, but it works differently from a sustained run where you do the activity for as long as your body allows.
Working your hardest in shorter bursts achieves a lot of things, including:
- Torched calories
- Increased metabolism
- Boosted endurance
- Regulated insulin levels
- Lost body fat
If you’re burning calories in any exercise, you’ll be burning fat. The difference is that HIIT helps you to get that more intense burn, reducing fat faster and building up your fitness at the same time. Compared to other cardio sessions, HIIT is the most effective way of getting ripped. You can increase your effectiveness during your HIIT workout by adding weights to the mix, such as kettlebells and dumbbells. You can tone the muscles at the same time as spiking the heart rate, which will improve your endurance.
The Benefits Of A HIIT Workout
HIIT has some of the most unique health benefits out there. If you were a long distance runner, you wouldn’t have the same benefits with your exercise as you would with HIIT workouts. So, what ARE some of the key values of a HIIT session?
- You can burn a lot more calories in a shorter amount of time. HIIT is designed to push you to the max, meaning that you can burn 30% more calories in a HIIT session compared to the same time taken to ride a bike. That’s a huge difference!
- Your metabolic rate is far higher for hours after you finish the workout. For example, two minute of HIIT sprints can increase your metabolism over a day compared to half an hour of running.
- Fat loss is possible. HIIT has the power to reduce your waist circumference, reduce visceral fat and decrease body fat - and all with three 20 minute sessions every week.
- HIIT workouts help you to increase muscle mass. The increase in resting metabolism not only burns fat, it also boosts hypertrophy or muscle growth.
- Improvement in your oxygen consumption when working out is important, and HIIT has the ability to increase this massively. Fitness pros refer to this increase as EPOC—excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.
- You are able to reduce your heart rate and your blood pressure with good HIIT workouts. Interval training increases your endurance, which in turn will normalise your blood pressure if you are overweight.
HIIT VS Steady State Cardio
It doesn’t matter whether your long-term goals are to lose weight or get fit, cardio has to feature in your workout program. It’s where you burn the most calories and encourage the most fat loss. Steady state cardio is something most of us are used to; consistent speed and intensity for the duration of the workout. For some people, this is an effective way to work out, and it has its proven benefits. It really is down to your personal opinion and what you feel works best for you.
When it comes down to it, though, the choice will depend on your fitness levels and your goals. HIIT should only be practiced two to three times a week, but if you want to encourage fat loss and toning, HIIT could be the best choice for you.