Written by Nevil Hunter.
If you’re like most fitness enthusiasts, then you’ve no doubt heard more than a little bit about the wonders of high intensity interval training. Sometimes also known as HIIT for short, high intensity interval training is one of the most enduring and promising fitness trends to come along in quite some time.
However, it’s one thing to hear the buzz about a trend and wonder whether or not it might be what’s missing as far as your own exercise routine goes. It’s another to actually understand the facts of what it can do for you. Let’s take a closer look at HIIT and its many benefits, the better to help you answer all of your questions and more.
What Is High Intensity Interval Training Anyway?
High intensity interval training is a type of systematic training that shoots for the maximum amount of fat loss in a relatively short amount of time. It is also technically a hybrid of two other types of training:
Training that alternates periods of moderate intensity exercise with periods of low-intensity exercise. Interval training is prized for its ability to send the metabolism soaring through the roof while simultaneously building plenty of lean muscle mass. The alternating periods are what make this type of training more effective at both than the steady-state cardio workouts most people are used to.
High Intensity Training
Exercising or working out at one’s maximum possible effort with the aim of reaching VO2 max. The state of VO2 max is what’s responsible for triggering the famous “afterburn state”. Afterburn is when the body burns calories at an elevated rate for up to 48 additional hours after you’re finished working out.
Putting the two together gives you HIIT, a fitness regimen that is capable of maximizing your body’s fat burning capacity and minimizing the amount of time you need to spend working out to see such results. In fact, running intervals at the gym for 30-45 minutes is capable of eliminating fat more quickly than walking 3-4 hours on a treadmill.
What Are the Major Benefits of HIIT?
As touched on above, high intensity interval training is so popular these days because of the way it helps you make the most of your workout time in a big way. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most notable benefits of making HIIT your workout of choice.
Higher Metabolic Rate
Although there are many different reasons why people work out, most people are have the improvement of their metabolism in mind as a major goal. HIIT is one of the most effective training regimens out there when it comes to supercharging your metabolism and keeping it higher overall, even when you’re at rest, but especially in the day or two following a workout.
Extended Calorie Burning Effect
When you add the magic of intervals to your workout, you don’t just burn more calories while you’re actually exercising. You experience an afterburn effect that means your body continues to burns calories at an accelerated rate for up to two days.
Better Mitochondrial Function
HIIT helps your body become more efficient on a cellular level as well. It helps boost the function of your cells’ mitochondria, resulting in more overall energy and more efficient use of energy produced.
Save Valuable Time
We all know people who make the excuse that they don’t have time to work out, but the fact of the matter is, most of us don’t have as much free time as we’d really like. HIIT helps you get more value out of even a short workout. Just 27 minutes of HIIT up to three times a week packs the same punch that 60-minute state-steady cardio 4-5 time per week can. Who couldn’t use a little more time in their life?
For those who really prefer to know which noted authorities approve of something before giving it a try for themselves, it’s good to know that quite a few back HIIT as a highly effective fitness solution. For instance, Jillian Michaels leverages the principles behind HIIT in all of her hit fitness videos.
HIIT is also endorsed by Dr. Mark Hymen, the author of the much-respected The Blood Sugar Solution. He has even gone on record on the Doctor Oz Show saying as much.
How Should I Approach HIIT?
If you think HIIT just might be the fitness solution you’ve been looking for, you have a few options as to how to approach it. For instance you can:
Just Jump In
If you’re a self-starter, you can always just take the basic fitness logic behind HIIT and jump right in. Push yourself as hard as you possibly can until you can’t anymore, do something lower in intensity for a while (like simple walking) until you recover, and then repeat. This approach isn’t as structured, so it’s not as much of a sure thing, but for some people it definitely gets the job done.
Choose an Out-of-the-Box System
With HIIT becoming so popular these days, there’s an abundance of good quality HIIT videos, apps, and established routines out there to choose from. Select one that works for you and stick with it.
Create a Structured Routine
Some people prefer to simply choose types of HIIT exercises, combine them into routines, and then time the intervals to make sure things stay consistent. Consider starting with a 3-minute warm-up followed by 20 seconds of all-out sprinting. Follow that up with 10 seconds of light, casual walking. Repeat this sequence for a total of eight cycles.
Ask an Expert
Contact or visit your local trusted fitness equipment retailer and a trained consultant can get you started in the blink of an eye.