4 Great Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training
For the past couple of years, HIIT or high intensity interval training has become popular. So what is it exactly and why is it such a hot trend?
High-intensity interval training, is an interval cardio workout. You start with a short bursts of intense effort, like sprinting as fast as you can, followed by an active recovery interval, such as walking. Intensity during the high intensity interval should be somewhere around 80% of your estimated maximal heart rate. You perform the intervals in a sequence, of say, 10 repetitions. The total workout time is short yet intense and provides a host of benefits. Here are a few of the many pluses.
1. It’s Efficient!
I used to spend hours weekly on cardio machines. I found it boring and inefficient. Truth be told, I hated it, I’d much rather spend the time lifting weights! I only did it because I thought I needed it to keep my body fat percentage down. At the time, what I didn’t know is that I was burning not only some fat but some of my hard earned muscle tissue as well…
According to exercise physiologist and trainer Scott Weiss, C.S.C.S.,
“HIIT burns more calories during and after a workout than continuous aerobic training. The bursts of increased intensity simply increase the caloric expenditure, thus, more total calories are burned aiding in better body composition.”
If you are overweight, HIIT is the way to lose fat. According to the Journal of Obesity:
‘Emerging research examining high-intensity intermittent exercise indicates that it may be more effective at reducing subcutaneous and abdominal body fat than other types of exercise.’
In 2013, the Journal of Physiology conducted a six-week study on 16 young, sedentary men. One group of these guys did 40 – 60 minutes of cycling at about 65% of their maximal heart rate, five times per week. Another group did sprint interval training for about 12 minutes, three times per week. The two groups had similar results at the end of the study.
So, you don’t have to spend hours on the treadmill hating the wasted time. You can do 15 minutes of sprint training, get a killer workout AND burn fat.
2. High Intensity Training is Anti-Aging
Yes, you read that right! There have been a few interesting studies documenting the anti-aging effects of HIIT.
One such study was done at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. K Sreekumaran Nair, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues assigned groups of people to three months of interval training, weight lifting or a combination of the two. There were two age groups in the study: a group of 18 – 30 year olds and a group of 65 – 80 year olds.Both groups took muscle biopsies, before and after, to measure the impact the workouts on their cells. Interval training raised the ability of the mitochondria within the cells to generate energy. The percentages were pretty astounding!
•69% increase in the older group
•49% increase in the younger group
Mitochondrial activity declines with age. Lowered mitochondrial activity may provoke fatigue. It also reduces the size and the ability of muscles to burn excess blood sugar, a risk factor for diabetes.
The interval training group also saw big improvements in lung, heart and circulatory health! The amount of oxygen that they could consume rose by 28% in the younger group and 17% in the older group. The older group that did a combination of weight training and HIIT rose oxygen consumption by 21%. There was no change in oxygen consumption in the folks only doing weight training. Dr. Nair said that the great benefit for the weight training group was the addition of muscle mass.
Can you imagine how much better the oder group of participants in this study felt? By adding HIIT to your workout week, you can FEEL younger!
3. HIIT Boosts Metabolism
While speaking at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual health and fitness summit, Michael Bracko, Ed.D., FACSM, said:
HIIT can boost metabolism and speed up weight loss. Research shows that one session of HIIT can burn calories 1 1/2 – 24 hours after exercise! During high intensity intervals, a person consumes more oxygen than slower distance training. That increases post-exercise metabolism.
The real advantage of HIIT versus distance training is that you can get the same benefits – such as fat loss, improved muscle cell function, increased oxygen consumption and improved anaerobic capacity – but you don’t have to exercise as long.
Workout fans seeking a greater bang for their workout buck should consider HIIT. It can be a great addition to help build muscle and lose fat.
4. No Fancy Equipment Needed
No barbells or dumbbells and no need to buy anything! You can do HIIT using your own body weight.
A fun HIIT routine could be:
Give it your all for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds. Make sure you warm up before starting your routine. There are lots of free workout timers that you can get for your phone. I use one daily in all my workouts; it keeps me on track!
You can also do sprints outdoors. Michael Bracko, Ed.D., FACSM shared his favorite sprint interval tip with the American College of Sports Medicine:
I do sprint intervals with my dog,” said Bracko. “I throw a stuffed duck, she chases it, and I chase her. It’s a blast!
This is a great idea for dog owners – both owner and pet get great exercise and fun is had by all!
To do HIIT, you don’t need anything except your own will.
•High intensity interval training is a fast, efficient way to burn fat without losing your hard earned muscle.
•High intensity interval training has anti-aging effects.
•High intensity interval training boosts your metabolism. It can continue burning calories for hours after the workout.
•High intensity interval training doesn’t need any fancy equipment.