Just hype or genuine hit (lols)? Many people struggle to find the time for exercise but with high-intensity interval training, it’s about maximum effort in a short space time. In this article, we’ll break down the trend that is HIIT and why it’s still one of our favourites and worth a go if if you havn’e tried it.
What Is High-Intensity Interval Training?
HIIT or high-intensity interval training is a workout technique in which you give everything you’ve got during intense bursts of exercise, followed by short (sometimes active) recovery periods. It gets your heart rate up and keeps it there, burning more fat in less time.
A standard HIIT workout is only around 15 to 30 minutes but can give you twice the results of more traditional (moderate) exercise. This is because it increases your body’s need for oxygen during and after the workout, resulting in the “afterburn effect”. This helps burn more calories and fat than your run-of-the-mill treadmill sesh. There are some studies that have demonstrated HIIT’s ability to increase your metabolic rate for HOURS after you’ve worked out.
Research also shows that high-intensity training increases your metabolism more so than weight training and jogging, shifting the body’s metabolism toward using fat supplies to produce energy instead of carbs.
Here’s the Deal with Acid
High-intensity exercises cause an increase in lactic acid and your muscles begin to “burn” and fatigue. Glycogen and glucose produce lactic acid when there is not enough oxygen available. The muscles release this teeny tiny molecule and eventually, the liver turns it back into glucose and glycogen.
This may leave you shook, but it seems that lactic acid is not what causes the muscular burning sensation you feel after intense exercise. Currently, the exact cause of that burning sensation remains unknown. There are studies that actually show lactic acid may even be beneficial in helping muscles perform better during training.
HIIT: The Fat Fighter
Studies have shown that HIIT workouts can reduce body fat and waist circumference. It found that people performing high-intensity workouts at least three times a week for an average of 20 minutes per session, lost 2 kgs of body fat within 12 weeks – without any changes to their diet. More importantly was the reduction in visceral (not good) fat of up to 17%.
Several other studies have also indicated that body fat can be reduced with HIIT training despite the fairly low commitment time. Like with other forms of exercise, high-intensity interval training, may be even more effective at fat loss in those who are already considered overweight in terms of the BMI scale.
You Lose Some, You Win Some
A HIIT program could help increase your muscle mass but the gain in muscle is mostly to those muscles that are more frequently being used, such as your legs. It’s also important to know that increases in muscle mass are more likely to occur in individuals who were less active to begin with.
Weight training continues to be the benchmark of exercise used to increase your muscle mass, however, high-intensity training could support a small amount of muscle growth and is often recommended to supplement a weight lifting regime.
Get More Bang For Your Breathe
This refers to your muscles ability to use oxygen. Endurance training is typically used to boost oxygen consumption. This generally consists of long sessions of continuous running or cycling at a steady rate but it appears that HIIT workouts can produce the same benefits with an even shorter turnaround time.
A study found that five weeks of performing HIIT workouts over four days a week for 20 minutes a session, improved oxygen consumption by 9%. This percentage was almost the same in another group which took part in the study. This group cycled continuously for a 40 minute period a day, over four days per week. Another study, found eight weeks of exercising using standard exercise or high-intensity interval training, increased oxygen consumption by around 25%. The total time exercising was again much different between the groups, 120 minutes per week for the traditional exercise compared to only 60 minutes per week of high-intensity workouts.
Happy Healthy Hearts
High intensity workouts are linked to important health benefits and there are large amounts of research to indicate that it can reduce heart rate and blood pressure in overweight persons, who often tend to have high blood pressure. Studies found that eight weeks of HIIT using a stationary bike, decreased blood pressure as much as standard endurance training for adults with high blood pressure.
HIIT’ing It Off
It isn’t hard to get started, there are many different ways you can add high-intensity intervals into your exercise routine. Choose an activity like running, cycling or even squat jumps, and then play around with different durations of exercise and recovery, how long you perform the intense exercise and then how long you spend recovering.
Here are a few basic beginner HIIT programs, because we think you are great:
- With a stationary bike, pedal as fast and hard as possible for a 30 second duration. Then pedal at a slower pace for 2-4 minutes. Repeat this anything from 15 to 30 minutes.
- After a warm up jog, run as fast as you can for 15 seconds and then walk or jog at a slow pace for 1 or 2 minutes. Repeat this 10 to 20 minutes.
- Perform squat jumps as fast as you can for 30 – 90 seconds and then stand rest or walk for 30 to 90 seconds. Do this on repeat for around 10 to 20 minutes.
These are just some examples to get you started but you should modify your own routine based on your own preferences and limits. Check yourself before you wreck yourself! However, if you want to cut out the decision fatigue, you can choose to join a HIIT class at your gym and have a trainer show you the ropes. We’ve got a handy class finder tool just for you so you can find the perfect group training class for your exercise needs. You can find it right here.