People make many mistakes when they start any exercise regime. One of these mistakes is they either do too much or very little exercise. By doing so, they find it difficult to achieve their fitness or health goals.
If it is becoming a challenge to achieve your exercise goals, then a HIIT workout might be what you need.
High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT workout works by alternating the intensity of your exercises.
Interval Training combines very high-intensity bursts of exercise within a short period. It is, then, followed by a similar period of rest. The cycle of alternated fast and slow paces is followed throughout the workout
An example of a HIIT workout could be 30 seconds of sprinting, followed by 30-seconds or so of jogging or walking. Repeat the cycle for 10 minutes, and you would have completed a HIIT workout.
The key to the success of any HIIT workout is how fast you can get your heart rate to beat and how it recovers.
The success of a HIIT workout does not depend on what you do. It is on how hard you do it that is important. According to experts, increasing the intensity of your workout will more than make up for the shorter workout sessions.
Why is a HIIT workout very effective?
The science behind the effectiveness of a HIIT workout is quite simple. When you alternate the intensity of your workout, it forces your body to exert more effort than it would in a steady-paced exercise.
Here are 9 reasons you should spend less time exercising by adopting a routine HIIT workout. You will get great results and help you to improve your fitness and health in less time.
Can help you burn more calories
Various studies have shown that you can burn more calories in a HIIT workout than you will do in a steady-paced aerobic workout.(1)
A HIIT workout can help increase your basal metabolic rate or BMR. (2, 3, 4) The BMR measures the number of calories you need to burn to make it possible for you to survive when your body is at rest. The calories you burn include what you need to help you breathe in and out, digest the food you eat, and circulate or pump blood around your body.
Studies have shown that the very intensive nature of a HIIT workout raises your metabolism during the exercises. And your metabolism will stay at a high level long after exercising.
The higher metabolism will make it possible for your body to continue to burn more calories after your workout.
Thus, with a HIIT workout, your body will metabolize fat for fuel during the time you are exercising.
Your body will then use some of the fat stored in your body for the energy you will need for the post-exercise recovery.
A HIIT workout can engage muscles that you don’t usually use. This can help your body to burn more calories during and after your workout. And by switching things up you will maximize your efforts during the HIIT exercises
Thus, it will make sense to include a HIIT workout in your weight loss plans if you are trying to lose weight. Doing so can help you burn more fat to help you achieve your goals.
Can boost your aerobic capacity
Aerobic capacity is the highest amount of oxygen that your body can use when you are doing an intensive exercise. It is the point at which your body uses as much oxygen as it can in the best possible, or most efficient way.
During a HIIT workout, your body uses energy that your muscles draw from various sources in your body. Such energy comes from oxygen. Thus, the more oxygen you can consume, the more physical work you can do
According to some studies, a HIIT workout can challenge your body to help push your aerobic capacity to higher levels.
Studies show that a HIIT workout can help your heart to pump oxygen to various parts of the body much better than workouts that go at a steady rate
Can enhance your level of endurance and muscle strength
Studies have shown that a regular HIIT workout can help increase your skeletal muscle and boost muscle strength. With strong muscles, you can perform many day-day activities, such as lifting heavy luggage.
High-intensity training can also help you build endurance. That will make it possible for you to perform various activities for many minutes or hours. Such activities include walking and gardening.
One study found that a HIIT workout can benefit those in many sporting activities, including tennis. According to the study, you can improve your athletic performance by doing two or three HIIT sessions every week.
Thus, if you are into such long-distance sports as the 10K, marathon, or triathlon, you would benefit by including a HIIT workout in your endurance training sessions.
Thus, a regular HIIT workout can help improve muscle mass
A HIIT workout can be fun
It gets boring if you keep doing the same exercises all the time. Your body also gets used to the routines.
That makes the exercises less effective after a while.
The above does not happen when your fitness routine includes a HIIT workout. With HIIT, you can vary the exercises without losing their impact on your fitness goals.
HIIT exercises are very flexible, and you can adapt them to suit your plans and lifestyle. Because you can change the type and time you do the exercises with ease, you keep your body guessing whenever you are doing your HIIT workout.
Thus, it becomes difficult for your body to get used to the exercises. That can help make the HIIT workout more effective. It can also help you to get the results you want.
Can help improve and strengthen your cardiovascular system
A HIIT workout is one of the most efficient ways to make your cardiovascular system stronger
Studies have shown that a routine HIIT workout can improve resting blood pressure and heart rate reserve. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a high-intensity exercise takes you in and out of an anaerobic state.(8)
An anaerobic state is a stage at which your body can produce energy without oxygen when exercising at a high intensity. That can help improve cardiovascular health.
It is widely accepted that extreme exercises can produce extreme results for your body and brain. It could damage your heart and arteries and lead to injuries.
Most people find it quite hard to push themselves to an anaerobic zone when doing exercises of moderate intensity. That is not the case when doing a HIIT workout.
With interval training, it is much easier to push yourself to the anaerobic zone. The reason is the resting intervals built into the workout. With time, it that can lead to a lower resting heart rate and eventually reduce the possibility of developing a heart condition.
Can save you money
A HIIT workout can be made up of bodyweight exercises. Thus, you do not need any equipment to help you reap the many benefits of a high-intensive training regimen
You do not need a gym membership either. You can do most of the exercise within the confines of your home, in your living room, garage, yard, office, or even in your hotel room
Thus, adopting a HIIT workout will not cost you any money. You only need time and dedication
Can help manage glucose levels in diabetic patients
According to research, a regular HIIT workout can help manage your blood glucose levels.
A recent study examined the levels of blood glucose in some type 2 diabetes patients who did HIIT exercises for two weeks. The study found that the blood glucose levels of the patients who took part in the study fell considerably.
Another research came to a similar conclusion. That study found that doing a regular HIIT workout can help increase the glucose metabolism in your muscles.
A routine HIIT workout can also help increase insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes. The study also found that the glucose uptake in thigh muscles returned to normal within the two weeks the participants took part in the study.
A further study concluded that a low-volume HIIT workout, undertaken regularly, could be a time-efficient way to use exercises to help treat type 2 diabetes.
Several short exercises come together to make up a HIIT workout. This makes it convenient for those suffering from diabetes. This is because longer exercise sessions can be risky for such people.
Thus, you can enjoy the benefits of regular exercises without the worry of causing your blood sugar levels to spike or drop if you are in that category.
A very efficient way to meet your fitness goals
HIIT workout has become quite popular for many reasons
Studies show that the benefits you get from a HIIT workout are like what you get from exercising with moderate intensity. But you can achieve those benefits within a shorter workout time (6).
That makes it possible for many exercisers to squeeze a HIIT workout into their lifestyle, no matter how tight their schedules are.
You can change the exercises to make it possible for any person to do it, no matter their fitness levels. That is because the exercise routines are very flexible. You can make changes to the exercises to suit different situations and conditions.
Thus, people from different age groups can benefit from incorporating a regular HIIT workout into their lifestyles.
Interval training is also suitable for both experienced and novice exercisers. Also, people who are overweight or suffering from such illnesses as diabetes can all benefit.
The composition of a HIIT workout can vary greatly. Exercises can range from walking, cycling, swimming, squatting, elliptical cross-training, aqua training, etc.
Within the short period of a HIIT workout, you can burn twice the number of calories you will burn in a traditional workout over the same period.
Thus, no matter your lifestyle, you will be able to squeeze in a HIIT workout and reap its benefits.
High-Intensity Training may have anti-aging benefits
A study by Mayo Clinic highlighted the anti-aging benefits of a routine HIIT workout. The study noted that older people who performed high-intensity exercises were able to stimulate muscle growth hormones. That can help such people to maintain lean muscle and energy.
Other studies have found that high-intensity training can help boost brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BNDF can help your brain to develop new connections, and repair cells that are failing. A boost in BDNF can help protect your brain from neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
Final Words from LiveLife
Adding a HIIT workout to your fitness plans will make it possible for you to reap some of its many benefits.
But interval training may not be suitable for everyone.
High-intensive training may be good for most people. But I would strongly suggest you discuss it with your doctor before doing any HIIT exercises. This is very important, especially if you have not been exercising for a while or have a chronic health condition.
It is also good to keep in mind that your body must be ready before you start exercises of such a strenuous nature. This will help you avoid or reduce any risk of injury.
It is good to start slowly, if necessary. Then, increase your pace as you build up stamina and condition your body. You will marvel at the results if you take the HIIT workout seriously.
With a routine HIIT workout, you do not need to spend hours exercising. You do not need to fork out a fortune on a gym membership or expensive equipment either.
High-intensity training can be a smarter way to achieve your fitness and health goals
- Cassidy S, Thoma C, Houghton D, Trenell MI. High-intensity interval training: a review of its impact on glucose control and cardiometabolic health. Diabetologia. 2017;60(1):7-23. doi:10.1007/s00125-016-4106-1
- Greer B, Sirithienthad P, Moffatt R, Marcello R, Panton L. EPOC comparison between isocaloric bouts of steady-state aerobic, intermittent aerobic, and resistance training. Res Quarterly Exerc Sport. 2015;86(2). doi:10.1080/02701367.2014.999190
- Amaro-Gahete F, De-le-O A, Jurado-Fasoli L, Sanchez-Delgado G, Ruiz J, Castillo M. Metabolic rate in sedentary adults, following different exercise training interventions: the FIT-AGEING randomized controlled trial. Clin Nutr. 2020;39(11):3230-40. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2020.02.001
- Grace F, Herbert P, Elliott A, Richards J, Beaumont A, Sculthorpe N. High intensity interval training (HIIT) improves resting blood pressure, metabolic (MET) capacity and heart rate reserve without compromising cardiac function in sedentary aging men. Experiment Gerentol. 2018;109:75-81. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2017.05.010
- Alcaron-Gomez J, Calatayud J, Chulvi-Medrano I, Martin-Rivera R. Effects of a HIIT protocol on cardiovascular risk factors in a type 1 diabetes mellitus population. Intl J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(3):1262. doi:10.3390/ijerph18031262
- Colberg S, Sigal R, Yardley J, et al. Physical activity/exercise and diabetes: a position statement of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2016;39(11):2065-2079. doi:10.2337/dc16-1728
- Buckley S, Knapp K, Lackie A, et al. Multimodal high-intensity interval training increases muscle function and metabolic performance in females. App Physiol Nutr Metab. 2015. doi:10.1139/apnm-2015-0238
- Dolci F, Kilding A, Chivers P, Piggott B, Hart N. High-intensity interval training shock microcycle for enhancing sport performance: a brief review. J Strength Cond Res. 2020;34(4):1188-96. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000003499
- Cheilleachair N, Harrison A, Warrington G. HIIT enhances endurance performance and aerobic characteristics more than high-volume training in trained rowers. J Sports Sci. 2017;35(11):1052-8. doi:10.1080/02640414.2016.1209539
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Published Dec 2015.
- Cao M, Quan M, Zhuang J. Effect of high-intensity interval training versus moderate-intensity continuous training on cardiorespiratory fitness in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(9). doi:10.3390/ijerph16091533
- Low-volume high-intensity interval training reduces hyperglycemia and increases muscle mitochondrial capacity in patients with type 2 diabetes – Jonathan P. Little, Jenna B. Gille, Michael E. Percival, Adeel Safdar1, Mark A. Tarnopolsky, Zubin Punthakee, Mary E. Jung, and Martin J. Gibala. Journal of Applied Physiology December 1, 2011 vol. 111 no. 6 1554-1560.
- Masuki S, et al. Interval walking training can increase physical fitness in middle-aged and older people. Exercise and Sport Science Reviews. 2017;45:154.
- Villelabeitia-Jaureguizar K, et al. Effects of high-intensity interval versus continuous exercise training on post-exercise heart rate recovery in coronary heart-disease patients. International Journal of Cardiology. 2017;244:17.
- Fit facts: High-intensity interval training. American Council on Exercise.