High intensity interval training—commonly referred to as HIIT—continues to rise in popularity largely due to its effectiveness, flexibility, accessibility, and short time requirements.
Because time is one of the most valuable and irreplaceable resources we have, and people want to get results in the fastest way possible, HIIT is a great workout solution that allows people to achieve maximal health benefits in minimal time.
What is High Intensity Interval Training?
HIIT is a broad term to describe a form of exercise that’s defined by its workout format—a short burst of high intensity exercise alternated with a recovery period of rest or low intensity exercise.
The fundamental concept of HIIT is pretty basic—you can do anything for 30 seconds, or even a few minutes, right? And, after having a chance to catch your breath, you can do it again.
HIIT sessions typically last between 10-30 minutes. The specific exercises vary, but can include cycling, sprinting, jumping rope or doing jumping jacks.
Examples of a high intensity interval training:
- Run as fast as you can for one 1 minute, and then walk for two 2 minutes. Repeat the 3-minute cycle five times, for a total of 15 minutes.
- Cycle as quickly as possible against high resistance for 30 seconds, followed by 1- 2 minutes of cycling at a slow pace with low resistance. Complete as many repetitions as you can in 30 minutes.
- Do burpees for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest. Do squats for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest. Run for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest. Do jumping jacks for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest. Do lunges for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest. Repeat this cycle three more times.
What are the health benefits of High Intensity Interval Training?
The beauty of HIIT is that it’s meant to be quick and time efficient. And despite the short duration, HIIT workouts can actually be a more effective way to burn calories and lose body fat (and in less time) than traditional steady-state exercise.
In addition to promoting weight loss, HIIT offers a number of other health benefits, including:
- Improve heart health
HIIT can improve health by reducing your heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. One study found that a group who did HIIT sessions three times a week for 20 minutes a day saw the same benefits to their blood pressure as a group who completed endurance training for four days a week and 30 minutes a day—despite spending half as much time exercising than the endurance training group.
- Increase VO2 max
Your VO2 max—also referred to as maximal aerobic capacity, maximal oxygen uptake or maximal oxygen consumption—is a metric to describe your personal cardiorespiratory and aerobic fitness levels. Your VO2 max is the amount of oxygen your body is able to use during exercise. The greater your VO2 max, the better your body is able to use oxygen to generate energy and power—and the better you’ll be at working out and exercising.
- Boost your metabolism
A healthy metabolism can help your body rid toxins more effectively, and help you burn calories even after your workout is finished.Some studies have shown that HIIT sessions force your body to use energy from fat as opposed to carbs,promoting more efficient weight loss.
- Improve mental health
Countless studies have documented the correlation between exercise and improved mental health, and HIIT is no different. In addition to releasing endorphins, improving sleep, and reducing tension, the authors of a 2019 review suggest that HIIT can provide a range of benefits for people with mental illnesses, including reducing the severity of depression.
HIIT workouts are a time efficient way to burn calories, lose body fat, and improve endurance and stamina—but be prepared, they are intense. One of the best things about HIIT is you can do it anywhere, at any time, and without any equipment.
And because it’s such a broad concept, you can modify your HIIT sessions based on your personal time and space constraints. Just follow the format—short bursts of high intensity exercise, followed by a brief recovery period. Repeat the repetitions until you reach your desired length of workout.
For more fitness, sports and facility management insights, click here to check out our other blogs.