What is HIIT Training?
HIIT Training is simply ‘High Intensity Interval Training’ that consists of short intense bursts of exercise with incorporated rest periods, which can also include active recovery time for those that want a more intense session – not for the faint hearted!
HIIT can be perfectly tailored to the individual’s goals and needs as both strength and cardio exercises can be performed within the routine. Workouts usually last for an average of just 20 minutes, which is ideal in the fast paced, time limiting world that we live in, where going to the gym is easily replaced by the daily school run, family food shop and cooking for a table of four.
Some evenings if business email responses are essential, and late night conference calls are unavoidable, then a 20minute workout may not even be realistic, but luckily with HIIT training there is something for everyone. By opting for Tabata-style methods, which use a work:rest ratio of 20:10, training sessions can even last for as little as 4 minutes (20second blast + 10second rest x 8 = 4minutes).
Although most will be enjoying the sound of reduced gym time, I’m sure the question will be raised as to how effective this method is in increasing the metabolism and burning calories. A 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, proved that 2 weeks of HIIT, improves aerobic capacity by the same amount as 6–8 weeks of pure endurance training; this suggests that 15minutes of interval training, completed 3 times per week, will aid progress more than jogging on the treadmill for an hour a day.
As well as being efficient and ideal for those with a busy schedule, there are many other benefits to this type of training…
- HIIT improves the health of your heart by using high intensity periods to push the body into the anaerobic work zone, where the heart works overtime and breathlessness is experienced; this improves our aerobic capacity and allows us to last longer next time we undergo the same activity.
- HIIT enables us to lose body fat…not muscle!!! It is extremely difficult to lose body fat without losing muscle mass and becomes a daily challenge that most gym users/dieters face in order to avoid becoming ‘skinny fat’, which steady state cardio appears to encourage. By incorporating strength and CV training into HIIT workouts, it has been proven to allow the body to preserve hard-earned muscle mass so that most of the energy we expend and weight that we lose comes from our fat stores.
- HIIT increases our metabolism by stimulating the production of HGH (Human Growth Hormone) by up to an impressive 450%!!! This effect lasts for up to 24hours post workout and is responsible for the heightened calorific burn. Other benefits of HGH include slowing down the aging process, building stronger bones, improving the quality and duration of our heart and kidneys, enabling the body to produce more energy, aiding sexual performance, promoting and increasing the synthesis of new protein tissues needed for muscle repair and recovery, and finally improving sleeping patterns to allow for a better quality of REM-stage sleep and reduced unintended awakenings.
HIIT can be performed anywhere and doesn’t require any specific equipment!!!
This style of training can include cardio exercise such as cycling, swimming, skipping etc but is not essential; anything plyometric (jumping lunges, sprints, fast feet, squat jumps, burpees etc) are just as effective in quickly elevating your heart rate. In fact, when equipment is used it can often reduce the quality of the session, as the focus should be on pushing your heart to its higher threshold and not your muscles. For example, if dumbbells were used for bicep curls then it would prove challenging to experience breathlessness over a burn in your muscles. Due to the versatility of HIIT it can be adapted to whatever time and space constraints are present, meaning that it can be performed anywhere, at any time.
HIIT is challenging, addictive and never boring, as workouts are so short that it doesn’t allow us time to become distracted and therefore makes it easier for us to focus on the task at hand. This encourages great work ethic and allows us to progress quickly with noticeable results. It may be uncomfortable, it may hurt, it may even reduce you to tears at times but the transformation that you will experience will leave you wanting more and looking forward to the next challenge that awaits…but when should the next challenge be?