Want to stay in shape, but don’t have time? Bored with your usual routine? Shake it up with some high intensity intervals and get more results for less time in the gym. Sound too good to be true?
Recent research has shown that you can get many of the same physiological effects from high intensity interval training (HIIT) as you can from more time-consuming, moderate endurance workouts. These effects include fat loss, improved muscle cell function, increased oxygen consumption and improved anaerobic capacity–all for a fraction of the time spent.
What is HIIT?
High intensity interval training is any activity that alternates short bursts of maximal activity with brief periods of low to moderate intensity exercise. For example, a brief interval of fast running followed by an interval of walking, or brief interval of fast cycling alternated with an interval of slower cycling at a recovery pace. The aim is to push yourself beyond upper end of your aerobic zone, which trains both your aerobic and your anaerobic energy systems. On a scale of 1-10 of perceived exertion, high intensity can be considered anything over an effort level of 7.
What are the benefits of HIIT?
Burns more fat. The effect of the brief, intense exertion causes a significant afterburn. That means that your body will continue to burn more calories in the hours following your high intensity workout.
Doesn’t require equipment. HIIT doesn’t require any special equipment. Just put on your running shoes. Even simpler, you can do any plyometric exercise like jumping lunges or jumping jacks.
Saves time. For example, one study showed that 20 minutes of HIIT three times a week was found to be comparable to multiple, hour-long sessions of moderate endurance exercise, even though the HIIT workouts involved about 90% less exercise time. In both cases, exercise performance was increased. (Little, 2010)
How to do HIIT