If you’ve been around the fitness industry in the past several years, you’ve likely experienced a lot of hype about HIIT training. It’s taken the fitness world by storm over the past several years - but does it really work? What are the benefits of HIIT training? What is HIIT? What are the benefits outside of the gym? We’re answering all those questions and more right here.
HIIT is a workout regimen designed to burn calories and fat, while raising your metabolism. The workouts are set up by combining short bursts of high energy exercises with low intensity exercises or periods of rest. For example, working out as hard as you can for a set amount of time (our workout program uses 7 minute intervals), and then taking 2-3 minutes of rest is HIIT. Or, if you run a quarter of a mile, then walk a quarter of a mile, that is an example of HIIT.
A study conducted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM), conducted in 2015, found a range of benefits for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). In the short term, the study found that HIIT significantly improved maximal oxygen uptake, diastolic blood pressure, and fasting glucose. In the long term, HIIT significantly improved waist circumference, % body fat, VO2 max, resting heart rate, systolic blood pressure and DBP.
Precision Nutrition teaches us about how HIIT utilizes aerobic and anaerobic metabolic systems to help us “have our cake and eat it too”. When your body works at a low intensity (for example, walking), you utilize your aerobic capacity. This allows your body to break down energy sources like carbohydrates and fat to use during your workout, which is beneficial for recovery periods. This system is more efficient, but doesn’t allow your body to perform at full capacity. When your body works at a high intensity, it uses a process called anaerobic metabolism. Your body can’t get oxygen to where it needs to quickly enough, which is highly effective for increasing your overall metabolism and cardiovascular fitness and long-term fat loss. By combining both high and low intensity workouts, HIIT lets you get the benefits of both systems.
So what does that mean for you? Well, since HIIT requires significantly less time than other methods of working out such as weightlifting, low intensity cardio and strength training, etc., the return on your time investment is higher, the strain on your joints is lower, and the results are efficient. A 20-30 minute HIIT session several times per week WILL get you results, assuming your diet is generally healthy. It also takes away the ability for you to get sucked into the idea that staying healthy, fit, and toned requires a lot of your time. HIIT workouts, conducted 3 times a week, is a sufficient workout and can significantly improve your overall health and energy levels. That’s right, no excuses! ;)
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