Get more out of your workout with High-Intensity Interval Training!
To be honest, I wasn’t the most active kid growing up. However, later on I learned why it’s important to stay fit and active. It really made a huge difference in my life.
You see, there are times I’d get so busy I don’t have enough time to hit the gym. I’d squeeze in 10 to 20-minutes of exercise at home, but I’d still feel guilty for not working out longer.
Then, my friend introduced me to High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Apparently, doing 10 to 20 minutes of HIIT exercises can work your entire body and burn a lot of calories in a short period of time. I thought, what an awesome way to exercise even with a tight schedule!
What exactly is High-Intensity Interval Training? Here’s what I learned about this great workout!
What is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), also called High-Intensity Intermittent Exercises, is a cardiovascular workout strategy that alternates brief and very intense exercises with short or slightly longer periods of rest. You can do ‘active rests’ in between intense workouts such as jogging in place or walking, which are lower impact moves.
HIIT is an extremely efficient exercise style. In fact, it packs the same training benefits as long endurance workouts.
It’s great because it helps you lose body fat while retaining a lean body mass. It improves heart health and even lowers blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Moreover, compared to a 40-minute run, a 10-minute HIIT workout can be a lot easier on your joints.
To give you an idea, here’s a simple example of a HIIT workout:
- Do a 30 second sprint followed by 30 seconds of slow jogging or brisk walking.
- Repeat this exercise cycle for 10 minutes and you’ll complete a HIIT workout.
How Can HIIT Have a Big Impact In a Short Time?
When we do very intense workouts, our heart can’t pump enough blood to send oxygen to all our muscles. This signals our organs to work double-time, resulting in a greater training response compared to long, moderate workouts.
Doing short bouts of intense exercise can also activate genes that increase growth in the mitochondria—the power generators of our cells. This triggers essential biological changes that actually enhance our physical fitness.
You can also gain exercise-specific benefits when you do HIIT. For instance, if you do squats and jump lunges, you’ll get better at squats and jump lunges. Depending on your workout, it will help you develop strength in specific muscle groups that you choose to work on.
Engaging in bursts of intense exercise also increases your maximal aerobic capacity (V02 max), which is one of the best indicators of an athlete’s cardiovascular fitness and overall endurance.
Can HIIT Really Help with Weight Loss?
When it comes to fat loss, HIIT can actually be better than traditional cardio exercises. Doing HIIT increases your body’s growth hormone levels, which also increases your metabolism. Intense exercise actually switches your body’s repair cycle on hyperdrive, making you burn more fat.
Even after your workout, HIIT amps your body’s fat burning capability up to 24 hours .
How Do I Start Doing HIIT?
When you’re new to HIIT, your workout will largely depend on your current fitness level. Generally, beginners are advised to go for shorter high-intensity exercises and longer periods of active rest.
As for the exercise, you can do any cardio workout. You can also incorporate weight lifting exercises into your routine for added intensity. Just do anything to get your heart rate up: jumping jacks, running, cycling, or intense dance routines. To learn more about HIIT exercises, check out our 5 Great HIIT Workouts post!
Take note: make sure you get your heart rate up to its maximum capacity.
If your heartbeat is racing and you’re feeling out of breath, then you’ve likely reached your maximum heart rate.
However, if you want to check your heart rate during exercise, here’s a way to calculate it: subtract your age from 220. For instance, if you’re 40, subtract 40 from 220, and you’ll get your maximum heart rate at 180.
When it comes to the length of your routine, fitness experts say you can do up to 45 minutes of HIIT. However, 15 to 20 minutes of HIIT can do just as well. Some fitness coaches also recommend limiting HIIT sessions to no more than three days per week to avoid overtraining. This allows enough time for your muscles to recover from intense workouts.
Since you’re doing highly intense exercises, don’t forget to stretch before and after every HIIT routine. It’s important to keep yourself well hydrated too.
I know doing HIIT can be hard when you’re starting. But don’t worry! You’ll get better in time. It worked for me, so I hope it works for you too. Just keep pushing yourself and pretty soon you’ll reach your fitness goals!
What do you think of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? Have you tried it?
Let us know in the comments below!