There are a lot of great benefits to incorporating high-intensity interval training into your routine. As the name suggests, this type of workout uses a lot of energy in small bursts. It can be an excellent addition to your workout schedule if you’re a regular exerciser.
HIIT workouts offer a lot of bang for your buck. It is easy to start, can cost as little as nothing (depending on the type of activity you choose), and you see results quickly. You can incorporate the high-intensity interval training model to any typical circuit or “cardio” workout. For example, you can do a HIIT workout on an elliptical or treadmill, running, swimming, or lifting weights.
What Exactly Is High-Intensity Interval Training?
With HIIT, your workout routine is done in short bursts of very high-intensity movement, followed by rest periods or low-intensity intervals. For instance, repeating 15-second sprints, then resting for one minute is a HIIT workout! With HIIT, you push your body to work as hard and as fast as possible. If you’re working maximally, this type of work won’t last for more than a few minutes at a time!
HIIT is a form of anaerobic exercise: it taps into energy stores that are available “on hand and ready to go.” This is different from aerobic exercise, where our bodies need to tap into and break down more substantial energy stores (e.g., fat).
You might be thinking, “But wait! I want to breakdown my fat! Should I not work out at such a high-intensity?”
At first glance, this seems to be the case. However, anaerobic exercises like HIIT eventually turn to those fat stores after the “on hand and ready to go” stores of energy have been depleted.
HIIT can add spice to your workout life not only physiologically, but mentally as well! You can increase/decrease the duration of work/rest intervals, choose to perform different exercises and use various equipment. Another plus is that your workouts will be much shorter since you’re working at a higher intensity. For instance, a typical aerobic or “cardio” routine lasts 20 to 40 minutes; a good HIIT workout anywhere from 4-12 minutes. Using an anaerobic or HIIT strategy will let you complete your workout in a fraction of the time and can also bring on results sooner than a lower-intensity aerobic exercise.
Other Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training has become one of the most highly recommended types of exercise. Health-wise, any activity is better than none at all. But HIIT helps people see better health and body results faster, which often encourages them to keep going.
Here are a few of the benefits people see with high-intensity interval training:
- Increases Energy Levels. HIIT workouts will give you a boost of endorphins, and the addition of exercise will help raise your energy levels overall, not just directly after the workout.
- Helps Build Stamina. If you’re just starting a workout routine, you can go at your own pace so that HIIT is perfect for every fitness level. Over time, you’ll find that your body builds stamina, and you can increase the duration of your intervals and the intensity.
- Helps Decrease Stress. Exercise helps you lower and manage stress, which improves your emotional and physical well-being.
- Helps Manage Health Metrics. Regular exercise, such as HIIT, will help improve the overall functions of the body. For people with chronic health conditions, such as blood sugar issues and high cholesterol, a regular regimen helps keep them within healthy levels.
- Builds Muscle. HIIT builds muscle faster than some other types of exercise so that you’ll see results much quicker.
- Decreases Weight. People who use high-intensity interval training report higher weight loss during a shorter period than people who use other types of physical activity.
Some Considerations Before Starting HIIT…
High-intensity interval training is widely considered a good exercise option. However, you should always check with your physician before starting an exercise or diet plan, especially if you have other health issues.
By its nature, HIIT makes your heart work hard, so those with heart conditions should consult with their cardiologist. Women who are pregnant may also want to discuss this exercise option with their OB/GYN before beginning.