What are HIIT Workouts and Its Benefits
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a type of cardio that alternates between high-intensity bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. It is a form of exercise characterized by periods of hard work followed by brief periods of recovery or rest. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time.
HIIT workouts typically last about 15 to 20 minutes, which is relatively short compared to other forms of exercise. After completing a HIIT workout, you will continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours, which is known as the afterburn effect.
The intensity of the workout depends on your fitness level and goals. For example, a beginner might start with walking for two minutes followed by one minute of running. A more advanced person might do jumping jacks for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of squats and so on.
The difference between HIIT and steady-state cardio workouts is how you alternate between low and high intensities. During the high-intensity intervals, you should be working hard enough that you couldn’t keep up a conversation without huffing and puffing.
High-intensity interval training is a great way to maximize a workout in a short amount of time. The definition of high-intensity intervals will vary based on your fitness level. With HIIT, you can burn more fat in less time than with other types of exercise, but you won’t be able to sustain these intense movements for very long. That’s why the work intervals are short and the recovery periods are just long enough for you to get ready for the next round, but not so long that your heart rate drops significantly.
Some people think of HITT as an alternative to running, but you don’t have to substitute HIIT for runs – it can be done as a complement to running!
HIIT is great for all fitness levels, from beginner to advanced. There are many variations of HIIT workouts that you can try. Examples include:
- Jump rope HIIT
- Circuit training HIIT
- Running or sprinting HIIT
- Swimming HIIT
- Biking HIIT
- Elliptical machine HIIT
- Bodyweight HIIT
The benefits of HIIT are numerous. They include;
- Burns more fat in less time
According to studies, six weeks of performing HIIT 3 times weekly for 15 minutes each session can result in a reduction in total body fat percentage and visceral adipose tissue. Also, the amount of oxygen used during the high-intensity portion increased significantly – showing greater aerobic adaptation after six weeks than with steady-state training at 60% VO2max.
- Improves aerobic capacity
HIIT can boost your aerobic capacity, which is the amount of oxygen you can take in during exercise. Researchers have found that HIIT can improve oxygen consumption more than traditional cardio workouts such as running or cycling.
- Improves insulin sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that carries glucose from your bloodstream into your cells to be used for energy. Insulin resistance occurs when muscle and fat cells become less sensitive to insulin, causing blood sugar levels to rise. A 2010 study published in Metabolism compared insulin sensitivity after six weeks of HIIT with six weeks of continuous endurance training. Researchers found that insulin sensitivity increased by 28% after HIIT, whereas it only increased by 4% after endurance training. HIIT helps your body regulate blood sugar levels after eating carbohydrates. This has been shown to help lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- Increases metabolism for hours after you finish exercising
The idea is to alternate short periods of intense exercise with recovery periods. For example, a typical HIIT workout has you jog at a moderate pace for two minutes, then sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds, then repeat. The theory behind HIIT workouts is that the body repairs itself and builds muscle when it recovers from strenuous exercise. This leads to greater cardiovascular fitness and more muscle mass than if you had done the same amount of exercise in a longer period.
HIIT workouts have been proven to improve cardiovascular health and help people lose weight more quickly than other forms of exercise. They also increase metabolism for hours after you finish exercising, which helps your body burn fat even while you sleep.
- Doesn’t require a gym membership or special equipment
A HIIT session can be done using any mode of exercise and doesn’t require a gym membership or special equipment. The only requirements are that it’s intense and that your recovery periods are active (meaning you keep moving).
- Can be paired with strength training
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is a workout technique that intersperses short, intense bursts of exercise with less-intense recovery periods. The result is a quick and effective workout that improves cardiovascular fitness, increases fat burning, and strengthens and tones muscles – all in less time than a traditional workout. HIIT can be paired with strength training or cardio to increase metabolism and exercise endurance while toning muscles.