Why High-Intensity Interval Training is so Good for You

You might have noticed that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – a workout that involves short bursts of intense activity with rest periods in-between – is insanely popular. According to scientific research, high-intensity interval training isn’t just a passing fad. A study found just one minute of HIIT got the same results as 45 minutes of endurance training, while another found high-intensity interval training keeps us younger at a cellular level. So why is HIIT so good?

You get a more effective workout in less time

Not having the time, or not enjoying exercise, are a couple of the main reasons we’re likely to skip a workout. But an effective HIIT session can be as short as 15 minutes and still get results, making it hard to justify not making like Nike and just doing it.

“HIIT is a training technique where the individual gives 100 percent effort through quick, intense bursts of activity,” Beth Sheehan, a professional practice advisor from Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA), explained to Coach.

“While other forms of exercise increase your heart rate, HIIT allows you to maintain your heart rate at a higher level throughout the session.”

The work-rest-work-rest formula of a HIIT workout pushes the body to burn more fat and build more lean muscle mass than when exercising at a steady pace.

“Studies have shown that with HIIT there is a dramatic improvement in exercise performance despite the low training volume. Many people report significant health benefits such as weight loss, improved muscular strength and overall improvement in aerobic fitness compared to longer sustained workouts” Sheehan revealed.

From a mental perspective, many find a HIIT workout less challenging than going at a steady pace for a longer time, because it only requires short periods of going full-ball with plenty of chances to recharge, catch your breath and get ready to go again.

Your body keeps burning long after the workout

The idea that you can sit on the couch watching Netflix and burn a significant amount of calories sounds too good to be true, but that’s what the “after burn effect” is.

The intense level of training performed during a HIIT session means your body has to draw in more oxygen afterwards to repair itself, forcing the metabolism to work harder for hours, even up to a couple of days after a high-intensity interval workout.

This means it’s not necessary to do a HIIT workout every day: you’ll get just as good results by alternating between a HIIT one day and a LISS (low-intensity sustained state) the next.

LISS workouts, which typically entail 30 to 60 minutes of activity such as walking, cycling or swimming at about 60 percent of maximum heart rate, also contribute to weight loss and efficient fat burning because oxygen is more easily delivered to the body during this style of exercise, and oxygen is needed to break down fat.

LISS sessions also help the body to recover and be at an optimal state for maximum performance at the next HIIT session.

You don’t need fancy equipment or a gym membership

Joining a gym or having a personal trainer are both great ways to keep you accountable, and less likely to hit the snooze button and skip a workout. Plus the social element can turn exercising into something fun, not a grueling chore.

But if you don’t have the funds for an F45 membership or PT, you can easily do HIIT on your own at home or in the park, because all you need is exercise clothing.

“HIIT programs can include nothing but body weight exercises,” Sheehan says.

“Box jumps, step-ups, star jumps, skipping, boxing, hill runs, push-ups, tuck jumps and mountain climbers are just a few of the moves a person could use to do an effective HIIT workout.”

If you’re a runner, turn a normal run to a HIIT session by sprinting for two minutes and walking for two minutes, or sprinting for 30 seconds and jogging for 90 seconds.

Sheehan does warn, however, that HIIT may not be for everyone.

“If you’re new to exercising some one-on-one sessions or coaching around the ballistic and fast paced nature of HIIT would be wise to assist in preventing injuries.

“If you are someone with a history of musculoskeletal injuries like lower back pain, knee or ankle injuries or shoulder dislocations, for example, consult an accredited exercise professional to ensure you are ready for the exercises, or discuss how HIIT can be modified for your specific needs.”


Read more at Coach.Nine.com.