The Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (AKA HIIT)

The Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (AKA HIIT)

HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, has been a buzzword in the fitness industry for the last few years, and given the results of HIIT, it’s proven to be more than just a passing fitness trend. More and more women are turning to HIIT and enjoying the awesome results.

First, let’s take a look at what HIIT is.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a system of organizing cardiorespiratory training which calls for repeated bouts of short duration, high-intensity exercise intervals intermingled with periods of lower intensity intervals of active recovery.

It’s the perfect workout for busy people. HIIT programs can be easily slotted into your everyday life. You can do as little as 15 minutes of exercise 3 times a week and see results. Let’s take a closer look at the specific benefits of HIIT workouts and why you should incorporate them into your regular fitness program.

Burn More Calories

HIIT programs are super intense (hence the name ‘high intensity’) and because you kick your body into hyperdrive, you’ll burn more calories in short, hard bursts. When it comes to efficiency in burning calories, high-intensity training is far ahead of steady-state cardio. HIIT constantly forces your heart to adjust to changing conditions: sprints, jogging, sprints, jogging, up hills, down hills, etc. Your heart learns to operate outside of its norm, and your body learns to adapt to these changes.

Continue Burning Calories throughout the Day

HIIT workouts continue to work even after you’re done sweating your pants off. Because they’re such a high intensity, you continue burning calories for up to 24-hours after your HIIT workout – amazing, right? Essentially, when you do high-intensity interval training (HIIT), your body and metabolism function at a higher rate of burned calories for hours and hours afterwards.

Want to test it out for yourself? Wear a Fitbit during and after your HIIT session and see the numbers rise consistently throughout the day.

Improve your Heart Health

It’s no secret that this type of intense exercise improves your heart’s health. Yes, you take your heartrate up higher than you’re used to in other exercise formats but that’s part of the beauty of HIIT! Build up your cardio capacity in as little as 8 weeks – a 2006 study found that after a group did just 8 weeks of HIIT, they were able to cycle twice the distance they previously could.

Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

Not only is HIIT good for the heart, interval training may also help control your blood sugar.

New research reveals that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) increases glucose metabolism in muscles as well as insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes. In a recent study, researchers found that glucose uptake in thigh muscles returned to a normal level after a two-week training period.

“Before the training started, the glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity of the insulin resistant persons were significantly reduced compared to the group of healthy individuals. However, already after two weeks of high intensity training, which amounted to six training sessions, the glucose metabolism in the thigh muscles achieved the starting level of the healthy control group,” says Doctoral Candidate Tanja Sjöros.

Reduce Muscle Loss

Steady-state cardio, such as running or aerobics, is often associated with losing muscle. HIIT workouts, however, combine weight training with cardio and effectively allows people to preserve their muscle gain while still shedding fat.

Weight training continues to be the “gold standard” form of exercise to increase muscle mass, but high-intensity intervals could support a small amount of muscle growth.

Boost your Metabolism

HIIT allows you to not only burn fat and preserve muscle, but also stimulate the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) by a whopping 450% over a 24-hour period. HGH also has other advantages besides boosting metabolism with the most attractive one being that it helps slow down the aging process. You’ll be able to be younger both inside and out! Who needs a million anti-aging products when you’ve got HIIT?

Train Anywhere 

The beauty of HIIT is that it doesn’t require any special equipment and you can do this type of exercise anywhere, anytime. Here’s a beginner’s 20-minute HIIT workout with no equipment:

3 rounds, 45 seconds work, 15 seconds rest

  1. Push-ups
  2. Squats
  3. Butt kicks
  4. Triceps dips
  5. Side lunges

 

For more ideas and exercise descriptions, check out this link!

Tailor your HIIT to You and Your Fitness Level

Girl, if you hate running, you don’t have to run. There are plenty more options you can do…that’s the benefit of HIIT: choose and adjust your own HIIT workouts and tailor them to your fitness level. Bike, bunny hop, ski jump…basically, you can choose any combination of cardio and strength exercises and turn them into an intense interval workout.

In fact, any combination of the exercises we recently discussed in our cardio blog and strength blog would work great!

If it Doesn’t Challenge You, It Doesn’t Change You

Because a HIIT workout is relatively short AND intense, you’re working your body to the max the entire time. Additionally, you’re constantly challenging your body with different exercises and routines – no HIIT program is the same.

If you’re looking for a program that will never bore you, constantly challenges you, doesn’t require special equipment or a gym membership, and provides a hefty number of proven health benefits, then give HIIT a try!