High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is an ideal workout for people who have busy schedules. Research shows you can achieve more progress in a fifteen minute interval training session, three times per week, than you could by just jogging on the treadmill for an hour. It allows for muscle building and fat loss in a short amount of time, which is why it’s becoming such a popular exercise.
What is HIIT?
HIIT is a workout that alternates between intense bursts of high intensity intervals and fixed periods of moderate to low intensity intervals, or even complete rest. It’s considered to be much more effective than regular cardio because the intensity is higher and you’re able to increase both your anaerobic and aerobic endurance while burning more fat.
In a 2001 study from East Tennessee State University, two groups were used in an eight week study. One group followed a HIIT program, while the other group followed a steady-state workout program. HIIT proved to be the better fat-burner as subjects dropped 2% body fat over the course of the experiment. Meanwhile, those who were on the steady program lost no bodyfat.
The anaerobic zone, which refers to a heart-rate zone using 80%-90% of your maximum heart rate (MHR), isn’t always reached during regular workouts. With HIIT, your goal is to reach that zone by exerting all of your energy for a short time.
"Aerobic or cardiovascular training is designed to develop a healthier heart and circulatory system," says Howard Knuttgen, research associate in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine. "Some regimen of aerobic training is really essential to good health."
Burn More Fat
A study performed by Jeffrey W. King of East Tennessee State University showed that HIIT increases the resting metabolic rate for the following 24 hours after a workout. Not only do you burn more calories during the exercise, but the effect of the high intensity exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into high gear afterwards. This means you burn more fat and calories long after a HIIT workout as compared to a steady workout.
No Equipment Needed
The great thing about HIIT is that you don’t need fancy equipment to reap the benefits. High knees, fast feet, or anything plyometric like lunges and squats work just as well as treadmills or bicycles to increase your heart rate quickly. In fact, some equipment like heavy weights can actually make HIIT less effective because the main focus should be on your heart, not your muscles.
You Won’t Lose Muscle
Anyone who’s on a weight loss regimen knows that it's hard to lose fat without losing muscle mass too. While regular cardio is an essential tool for fat loss, it shouldn’t be the only workout performed.
A recent study compared the impact of HIIT versus steady-state workouts in regards to body fat and muscle metabolism. The results showed that the HIIT program produced more fat loss than steady-state exercise did overall. Also, the study concluded that while the HIIT workout helped to build muscle, the steady-state workouts actually broke muscle down. Not only does HIIT burn more fat over the duration of the day, but it also builds more muscle and improves metabolic function.
You Can Increase Your Metabolism
In addition to increased fat burning and muscle retention, HIIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. The human growth hormone is a testosterone booster naturally produced in the pituitary gland and plays a vital role in cell regeneration, increased caloric burn, growth, and maintaining healthy human tissue.
HIIT workouts are increasing in popularity everyday because of how effective they are for gaining muscle, increasing heart health and losing fat. Try a HIIT workout today and see if you can withstand the intensity!