How Can A HIIT Help You Get Fit?
You like to work out (well, maybe like is a bit strong). At least you think you’re pretty knowledgeable of the current fitness trends. But while you’re out there cycling, boxing, running, and rowing, you’re hearing about how others are HIIT’ing it hard. So just what does this mean? And how can you join in on the action?
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. A hot fitness trend for some years now, the technique has so many proven benefits that you’ll likely want to make it part of your own regular workout routine.
HIIT is a fitness training technique that alternates between fast, intense bursts of exercise —where you give 100% effort — followed by short, active recovery periods. For example, you might sprint as fast as you can for one minute followed by a two minute jog or walk, then repeat. This keeps your heart rate racing and burns more fat in less time. That’s right, HIIT gets your body to burn more fat and calories than traditional workouts, even if they are twice as long!
Don’t be intimidated. Even if you’re a fitness newbie, HIIT can eventually be right for you. Women (and men) in good health and who exercise regularly are good candidates for HIIT training, but beginners should aspire to HIIT only after establishing a good base level of fitness. Without spending hours in the gym, HIIT’ers will be able to increase both their aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) endurance while burning more fat. But know that you won’t receive any of the benefits of HIIT if you don’t go all out. This isn’t a workout technique where you can pace yourself. Results come from the intensity of each burst of activity.
One of the best reasons to try HIIT is its continued high calorie burn. The intense exertion causes your body’s repair cycle to kick into high gear, so you’ll not only burn more calories in less time, but you’ll keep burning those higher amounts of fat and calories in the 24 hours following your workout. A Colorado State University study found that just over two minutes of intense exercise can burn as many as 200 calories over the course of the next 24 hours thanks to a boosted resting metabolic rate.
Further studies of the training technique have proven other major benefits as well. HIIT may stimulate production of human growth hormone, build a healthier heart (see the aforementioned aerobic and anaerobic endurance increase), encourage weight loss, increase metabolism, and help you to see results from a workout that truly challenges you.
To top it off, HIIT might even make you smarter! A Montreal Heart Institute study found that, after doing two HIIT workouts a week for four months, participants had boosted their brain oxygenation and scored significantly higher on cognition tests.
With so many potential significant benefits — not to mention its ease on the budget with no special equipment necessary — there’s no reason not to incorporate HIIT into your regular workout regimen. Just be aware that pushing too hard or too fast can cause injuries, so listen to your body and modify your HIIT routine as necessary. We suggest planning on about three sessions of HIIT per week, keeping each workout short to maximize effectiveness, and making sure that you’re having fun!
Check out this video from FitnessBlender for some HIIT inspiration:
Sevits KJ, Melanson EL, Swibas T, Binns SE, Klochak AL, Lonac MC, Peltonen GL, Scalzo RL, Schweder MM, Smith AM, Wood LM, Melby CL, Bell C. (2013). Total daily energy expenditure is increased following a single bout of sprint interval training. Physiological Reports, 5, e00131